Key signature finder

I found this great key signature finder at about.com.

This is a really useful tool for not just piano players but for all musicians. It shows you exactly how many sharps or flats there are for each different key signature whether it be major or minor.

You search for your key signature by name… when you click on the key then you get confronted with a different page showing you exactly how many sharps or flats that particular key has. You also get shown which is the relative minor (or relative major) along with a list of the most common chords for that key signature.

As well as showing you how many sharps or flats it will also show you which they are listing them on the musical stave as well as in writing.

You will find this resource extremely useful if you are starting to read music and are now playing in several different keys. It will quickly serve as a reference to show you exactly how you should be playing each song.

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How many keys should a piano have

One of the most common questions I get asked on my Youtube channel is ‘how many keys should my piano have?’.

This question might come from one of the videos I have where I explain about the basic notes on the keyboard. I explain how the keyboard is split up into repeating groups of twelve notes. In essence you only really need 12 notes but obviously to have more octaves is useful.

In my video I explain how a full sized piano will have 88 keys and that many electronic keyboards will have significantly less.

This somehow is confusing confusing for those who want to learn piano who immediately go to their keyboard and start counting the keys. They think that they will not have enough keys to be able to learn the piano properly.

As I stated before in a flippant way, the minimum number of keys you will require is 12 but even my 1970’s mini moog had more than that.

The average ‘small’ keyboard these-days has some 49 keys (just over 4 octaves) This is more than enough to learn the piano with. Most pop songs and rock songs will not need half of that.

There are some classical pieces that will need access to high registers and there are some which need you to play down low. There are even a few that call for both in the same piece but they are few and far between. There are in fact a very few number of pieces that require the absolute top note of the piano and the bottom note of the 88 keys. I know there are such pieces but I con’t remember what they are at the moment. If anyone does know then please send me an email and I will publish it here.

 

Chooka Parker – Farmhand Shows how to play the piano

This is an amazing talent that has been found by the Australian television show, Austraila’s Got Talent.
This 16 year old farmhand from a small backwater town in the Australian outback has been completely self taught. He went onto the nationally televised talent show and simply sat down and played, making up as he went along.
His performance was moving to say the least. Starting off in a rock like style he soon transformed the piece into an almost classical mixture of sound. The performance was somewhat reminiscent of the great Kieth Jarret and in the end brought all of the judges to their feet for a rousing standing ovation.
It will be interesting to follow the progress that Chooka makes and to see if he has the luck to be able to break out of the Australian music scene and make it as an international star.
This 16 year old certainly does have talent…. never had a piano lesson in his life and goes out in front of a television audience of millions and makes up a piece on the spot, His laid back attitude and nievety all go towards making this young lad a future star of the piano. Keep an eye out for him in years to come.

Extensive collection of piano tutorials

Here is a great piano site I found that has a really comprehensive collection of piano tutorials. 

Videos | PianoTutorOnline

I was astounded when I took a deeper look into the collection they have up here. There are a staggering 300 tutorials showing you how to play many of the classic piano based songs from John Lennon’s Imagine to Bruce Hornsby’s that’s just the way that it is.

In fact any song you can imagine is probably here in this collection of tutorials.

The tutorials don’t appear to be in any logical order which is a shame and it makes finding a song more of a pot luck event. There are some really advanced pieces and some really simple ones and there is no distiction as to playing level in the list. 

All of this is however totally excusable as this has to be THE most comprehensive list of piano tutorial available at the moment. 

I hope you get a chance to check it out and learn some of the all time classic piano pieces. The more you learn from others the more different styles you will be practiciing. All of that will make it a lot easier to progress in your piano playing even though you might feel you are making little progress and simply copying other people’s piano parts. 

Extensive collection of piano tutorials

Here is a great piano site I found that has a really comprehensive collection of piano tutorials.

Videos | PianoTutorOnline

I was astounded when I took a deeper look into the collection they have up here. There are a staggering 300 tutorials showing you how to play many of the classic piano based songs from John Lennon’s Imagine to Bruce Hornsby’s that’s just the way that it is.

In fact any song you can imagine is probably here in this collection of tutorials.

The tutorials don’t appear to be in any logical order which is a shame and it makes finding a song more of a pot luck event. There are some really advanced pieces and some really simple ones and there is no distinction as to playing level in the list.

All of this is however totally excusable as this has to be THE most comprehensive list of piano tutorials available at the moment.

I hope you get a chance to check it out and learn some of the all time classic piano pieces. The more you learn from others the more different styles you will be practicing. All of that will make it a lot easier to progress in your piano playing even though you might feel you are making little progress and simply copying other people’s piano parts.

How to play Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen

Bohemian Rhapsody is one of the all time classic pop/rock pieces. This was composed by Freddie Mercury on the the piano and although the original recoding features heavily the voices in close harmony and the timeless guitar sound we can only associate with queen, the song is in fact based around the piano part.

There are quite a few piano tutorials on you tube showing you how to play this piece, some are better than others.

I have included a couple of the better ones here with this post.

It might seem quite a daunting task at first to learn this masterpiece but once you split the song down into small sections you will see that it will not be all that difficult to get to grips with it.

The most thorough tutorial I found is this one by Joe Raciti

This is in three parts and can be quite difficult to follow. If you are prepared to do a lot of pausing and continuing however it will be well worth while learning from this one.

 

There are many other tutorials for this song and there is noting stopping you from going through each and getting little bits from each one.

Then to put it all together here is an excellent non stop live performance piano part which is almost exactly as it appears on the original track.

 

And finally you must not miss this interpertation.

Piano Care 101

Here is a link to a great set of articles on basic piano care.

Piano Care and Maintenance – Inside Tips on Piano Care and Maintenance

Piano Care & Maintenance

The article is aimed at newcomers to the piano but there will also be one or two gems for the seasoned player as well. 

There are lots of tips and useful information covering the following topics.

  1. Cleaning Your Piano
  2. Caring for Your Piano Keys
  3. Piano Tuning
  4. Detecting and Preventing Piano Damage
  5. Consult a Professional Piano Technician

 

 

 

 

To most the piano is a huge piece of furnature that at first seems to be strong and almost indestructable. This is far from the truth, your piano needs a lot of care and regular maintainence both on the outside and on the inside. This article will guide you through all that you need to know coving such topics as,

Cleaning the outside of the piano.

How to take care of the keys.

Getting the piano in tune and keeping it that way.

How to prevent further damage.

Deciding the best time to call in a professional.

 

If you don’t follow the advice in this article the beware….  your piano could end up looking like this!

 

Garden Piano

Learn Piano

rocketpiano_box How to Teach Yourself Piano

Every beginner can use advice on how to Teach Yourself Piano. There are many different methods of teaching yourself how to play the piano. Some people use an instructor and others teach themselves. No matter how you learn to play the piano, some things will be the same. The basics of playing the piano are never going to change. With that in mind here are some tips and great advice to help you as you learn to play the piano.

Visit the Rocket Piano Video review page



Start with the Basics
No matter how you decide to learn, you will always start with the basics. You will learn about the piano, the keys and where the notes are on the piano. You will also learn some basic music theory, including how to read music. These basics are where everyone starts. It can sometimes be easy to think that you don’t need to go over the basics, but even if you already know how to read music and you already know about the piano keyboard, going over the basics is always a nice refresher and should be where you start.


Choose Easy and Short Pieces to Start
Your first pieces should be introductory pieces that test you ability to read music and play that music on the piano. These pieces should be short and easy enough for you to memorize. You should aim to perfect them, which should not take too long.
Also do one or two pieces that you play by ear. This means that you hear them and then try to play them on the piano. You can learn a lot by just trying to duplicate what you hear on the piano. This is great ear training that will come in handy as you advance through your piano lessons.


Understand It Will Get Harder
Too often the beginner student feels like things get too hard and they quit. However, advancing to harder pieces is the only way that you will learn and improve. You have to accept that there will come a time when you will really struggle with a piece and you will have to practice over and over to perfect it. This is just you becoming a better piano player and every player goes through this. If you never play pieces that challenge you then you will never get better.

Make It Your Own
Have you ever heard the same song sang by two different singers? Did it sound exactly the same? Probably not. The reason is that each singer made the song their own. That is what you need to do with the music you play. One of the secrets to becoming a good piano player is learning to make music your own. Start playing from the heart. Be adventurous and willing to try new things. It will only help you grow as a piano player.

When you first begin to seek how to learn the piano you will probably feel it is very structured. You will have set lessons and you will be learning the basic things that you need to know to become a good piano player. Do not let yourself give up in these early stages. They really do progress quickly and soon you will be moving on to playing harder pieces that sound beautiful. The key is to just follow the advice above and to stick with it.

 

There is a list of home study courses to help you teach yourself piano on the piano for beginners page

Piano Lessons For Beginners

There are a lot of people looking for piano lessons for beginners who believe that they are really too old to learn piano. This cannot be further from the truth. The fact is that the older you are the more thoroughly you will learn and the less likely you will be to give it up.
I have written extensively on this subject before and will not go into it here (Am I Too Old To Learn The Piano) but if you are looking for a complete home study course that will serve as piano lessons for beginners then there are at least two that I can highly recommend. I have done a couple of extensive reviews on these piano learning products including a video sneak peek into the products. I have used both of these courses personally and apart form having hours of fun I improved my playing and learned to play in multiple styles.
Here is a quick review of the top two home study courses offering piano lessons for beginners.

The Basics of How to ReadPiano Coach Pro Piano Sheet Music

When you are learning to play piano you must learn how to read piano sheet music. Many people learn to read music in elementary school, however, if you are not in the band or choir, you can easily dismiss all that you learned. It can help to get familiar with at least the basics of sheet music before you get into your piano lessons.

The Staff
When you look at a piece of music there are different parts or elements that make up that sheet music. The first of those elements is the staff. This is the five line, fours space area where the actual notes sit. It is basically what the music is written on. It is the lines and spaces of the staff that tell you what note to play. At the beginning of the staff you will see a clef sign, either a treble or bass. There is a key signature and then a time signature. Each of these things help you to know how to play the music.

Clefs
The treble and bass clefs tell you the octave you are playing in. Generally in piano the treble clef is the right hand and the bass clef is the left hand. The clef sign will also tell you what notes each line and space of the staff represent.
In the treble clef staff the lines, from bottom to top, represent the notes E-G-B-D-F and the spaces are F-A-C-E. In the bass clef staff the lines, from bottom to top, represent the notes G-B-D-F-A and the spaces are A-C-E-G.

 

Key Signature
The key signature tells what notes, if any, are flat or sharp. The marking for flat is an odd “b” and the marking for sharp is “#”. In the key signature the marking will be on the line or space of the note that is to be played flat or sharp.

Time Signature
The time signature tells you the number of notes in each measure. Measures are marked by a straight vertical line and they are used to break up the music. It looks like a fraction.

Notes
The last part of the sheet music are the actual notes. There are many different types of notes and each note has a specific length of time in which it is played. Here are some examples of notes you will see:
Whole note: Looks like an “o” Played for 4 beats.
Half note: Looks like a backwards “b”. Played for 2 beats.
Quarter note: Looks like the half notes but is filled in to make the “o” solid black. Played for one beat.
Where the notes are placed on the staff tell you what note to play. For example a whole note on the first line up from the bottom would be a G played for 4 beats.
There are many more complexities that go into sheet music, but these basics should get you started with learning how to read sheet music proficiently. Once you know these basics you can then begin to learn the more complex aspects of reading sheet music.


Piano Lessons For Beginners – Best Piano Courses

This is my list of the top piano courses of the many I have checked out and tested personally.

Rocket Piano - Teach Yourself Piano


Rocket Piano – The Top Beginners Piano Course Average User Rating: stars-4-5* (Click Here For The VIDEO REVIEW)

This product consists of  7 books all with their associated audio and video files. They will teach you right from the very beginning how to play the piano or the keyboards and will go on to teaching you Gospel for beginners, Jazz for beginners and there are also some general technique books. You will get access to a load of software for MAC or for PC which includes several music learning games and a very useful metronome application. This course seems to be the current market leader for piano lessons for beginners. It is an extremely complete course which contains over a years worth of piano lessons. Great for complete beginners and intermediate level players too.

 


Piano for All

Piano For All – Best Course For Beginners and Intermediate

Average User Rating: stars-5-0

*(Special VIDEO REVIEW of the Course)

This really complete package comes with 10 books which all have audio and video embedded. You get taught how to read music and how to play by ear at the same time. Right from the outset you will be playing authentic sounding music. The course contains Innovative teaching methods which will hold the interest of most students and will have you playing great sounding music very quickly. The overall presentation of this product is not quite as smooth and professional looking as some of its competitors but the content is without a doubt far superior.


For a more complete list see the piano for beginners home study page.

Both of the above products come with a 60 day no questions asked guarantee in case you are not completely satisfied with your purchase. They are both suitable for adults or young people though not really geared for small children to use. They are both a great way of getting piano lessons for beginners in your own home.

 

If you are someone who is looking for beginner piano lessons, you’ll find that there are a number of different options open to you.  Piano is a beautiful instrument, and if you are in the right mindset, you will find that it is a real pleasure to learn.  One of the most important parts of getting the piano instruction that you want is to make sure that you get the right instruction that you need.  When you are thinking about getting started with piano, make sure that you keep some of the basic parts of piano instruction in mind.

1. What kind of time can I devote?
When you are looking at learning piano, remember that the real learning occurs on your own while you practice.  The best piano teacher in the world won’t be able to do a single thing with you if you don’t have the time to practice.  Remember that you should think about how much time you are willing to budget every week to practice your lessons.  Think about when you can practice and when you are going to be in the right mood to practice.

2. Where can I practice?
When it comes to beginner’s piano, you’ll find that you might not be willing to put out the money for a good keyboard or piano, but keep in mind that it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to play and to figure out if this is the instrument for you.  In the first place, you will find that in many cases, a piano teacher can provide you with a piano during lessons, but even for practice sessions, you will find that you can often rent practice space from your local music shop, piano store or university.  Where there is a will, there is a way, so think about what you are after.

3. What do I want to play?
When learning piano, you will find that at the very beginning that you are going to get a very basic level of instruction, but that sooner than you think, you will need to consider what kind of style that you are interested in playing.  Finding an instructor who enjoys the music that you are going to be playing is quite important, so make your goals plain and let your teacher know where your interests lie.

4. Where should I start?
If you are planning to learn piano, you need to think about where you are going to start.  In the first place, think about what kind of experience that you have had.  If you can read music, you’ll find that you can skip that part of instruction.  Remember that most piano instructors will be happy to start you from scratch and that if you need to, you can start from the very beginning.  Take some time and assess where you are starting from and what you are going to need to think about working on. For more information check out the Piano Basics page.

When you are looking to get started with your beginner piano lessons, take some time and make sure that you know where you want to go, and that you take the time to practice as much as you can.

How To Play The Piano

Learn to Play Piano Blues Style

When you play piano blues style you are calling upon some strong music.

The blues is something that is filled with emotion. It is a genre of music that seems to have its very own style that so unique from any other genre. When you play blues on the piano there are a few things you have to know so you can really get this style right.

The Blues Scale
Playing the blues on the piano starts with learning the blues scale. The scale is played with the right hand and the first four notes are C – E flat – F – F sharp. Practice playing that over and over until you have the four notes memorized. Adding in the left hand, you will play a C and G together as a chord.

Knowing the first four notes of the scale and the basic chord will allow you to start playing around a bit with creating your own blues sound. See the Piano Lessons For Beginners page for more info.

Check out the ‘How to Play The Blues’ book in the Piano For All course.

Improvising a Song
Playing the blues is all about reaching inside yourself and creating music that reflects what you feel. You may not have a lot to work with, but what you have learned with the scale and the C-G chord will give you a great start.
Try messing around with the notes. Unlike just sitting down and playing whatever notes your fingers hit, having guidance of what notes to play will actually make it sound like a real song. No matter what notes you play they will harmonize nicely. Just try to stick to scale order by not skipping notes.

The Complete Blues Scale
After you have gotten to know the first part of the scale you can add in the remaining three notes. This will give you the complete blues scale. The scale is C – B flat – G – F sharp – F – E flat – C. Again, practice the scale until you know it well and then begin to improvise again. You can add in some more notes for the left hand. You can use a C chord and/or a G chord. You now have a very good basis to start playing some amazing blues sound.


Creating Music
You now know the basics for playing the blues on the piano. You now can experiment and try all different rhythms and combinations to create your own blues music. You may want to get some sheet music that reflects the blues style or even just listen to some blues music to give you inspiration.
Remember that blues music is all from the heart. No matter what you do with the music, make it yours. Be free and let yourself go. Follow your ear and if something doesn’t sound right then change it up. Don’t forget to record as you play so you don’t forget the music you have created. After a while, you will find your skills grow and you begin to add your own style to the music. That is why you can be sure that you have mastered how to play piano blues style.

 

Advice on How to Play Rock Piano

When you want to learn how to play rock piano, it helps to get some advice to get you started. Rock piano is simply a style of playing. There is no real secret to it except learning the basic rock style and being able to turn out rock style music from your piano. Learning to play piano in a rock style is something that you may wish to do once you have learned the basics of playing piano.

Energy is Key
The main key to playing rock piano is energy. Rock music is driven by the energy of the performers. The music flows quickly and it can be challenging if you don’t have the energy to keep up with the pace of the music. You must go into learning rock piano with energy, ready to rock and roll. See the Piano Lessons For Beginners page for more info.

Rock Piano Skills
When playing rock piano there are some certain skills that are specific to this style of music. Knowing these specific skills will help you to play rock style easier. There are two main skills: glissandos and fast chords.
Glissandos: This is where you slide your fingers across the keyboard. While it looks simple, it is actually something that can be a bit tricky until you have practiced at it quite a bit.

Fast chords
All piano music includes chords, but in rock music the chords move fast. You have to really know your chords so you can play them fast without mistakes. You may need to spend some time practicing moving through chords over and over in order to get up to speed for rock music.

Basic Elements
Rock music is all about passion and speed. Rock music flows fast and it is played loud. Even the slower rock songs move at a rapid pace compared to classical pieces. Most people learn to play piano using classical pieces so the transformation to playing rock music can be rather challenging at first for some piano players.

Your basic piano skills will really dictate how you can proceed with learning rock piano. If you are a seasoned piano player, who knows all the chords and who can play quick tempos then you may be able to start out with a faster piece than someone who is a relative beginner piano player.

Choosing the Right Piece
For your first rock piece you should probably choose something slow. You want to really be able to work on your styling and grasp the basic flow of rock music before you move into hard, fast pieces.
Learning how to play rock piano is all about practice. You have to get your basic skills perfected before you can move onto real classic rock pieces that move at super fast tempos. You need to really play with all your energy and throw yourself into the music for a rock piece to really come off sounding good.

Even though the guitar is the instrument most people associate with rock music, the piano can also be a great way to rock out.