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Pianist/Keyboard Players, I need your advice

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by TheLowDown33, Jan 2, 2020.

  1. TheLowDown33

    TheLowDown33 Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2009
    In my cover band we have been doing more and more Pop and Top 40 music that's very synth-centric. As a result, the keyboard player and myself have been splitting duties as far as covering the most important parts of these songs with me usually taking the bass parts for obvious reasons.

    I understand music theory at a higher intermediate level and know my way around a keyboard from using it as a teaching tool. I also am fairly into synths, so I've also spent time with a keyboard because of that. I can play (monophonic) synth bass pretty well, and certainly well enough for the material we've been playing. The problem I foresee is that my lack of technique will make it difficult to multitask parts in the future.

    Are there any resources that you all can recommend to me as far as the technical side of piano. For example, more on how to play scales/chords efficiently and effectively rather than what makes a scale/chord. Thanks in advance!
  2. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Jazz Hanon?
    SasquatchDude, nbsipics and dkelley like this.
  3. TheLowDown33

    TheLowDown33 Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2009
    Yes! Books and resources similar to this are definitely what I'm looking for. Thank you.
  4. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Suspended Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Piano is one of the most difficult instruments to learn. Get a good teacher.
    JRA likes this.
  5. TheLowDown33

    TheLowDown33 Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2009
    I guess this is kind of always the best case answer. Can you tell me why it's the most difficult?
  6. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    IMO, piano is difficult initially and gets much easier, but a teacher is very useful.

  7. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Dear OP,


    I realize you already understand this stuff, but I am placing it here for others.


    Encyclopedia of Left-Hand Jazz Piano Voicings - Learn Jazz Standards


    KelliB, Leo Smith and tradernick like this.
  8. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Suspended Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Coordinating when and when to place 10 fingers at one time. Now of course you aren’t using all 10 fingers all the time, but compared to bass, where you usually are playing single note lines, it a big adjustment.

    I was a music major in college and had a basic knowledge of keyboards, but 2 years ago when I studied jazz keyboards for about 6 months, I was still surprised how difficult it was.

    A good teacher will help you make progress exponentially quicker than YouTube videos.
    nbsipics likes this.
  9. TheLowDown33

    TheLowDown33 Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2009
    Gotcha. The coordination of parts seems like the obvious difficultly. Granted I'm not aiming to be able to play jazz standards or classical rep, but helpful to keep in mind nonetheless.
  10. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Learning classical piano builds finger independence.
  11. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    getting a good teacher is always the best strategy. and no one has found a good substitute for practicing. good luck with your keyboard duties! :thumbsup:
    TheLowDown33 likes this.
  12. TheLowDown33

    TheLowDown33 Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2009
    Thank you, and agreed! A teacher would be ideal and I'll probably end up taking some introductory lessons just to make sure the fundamentals are covered and I'm playing safely. I just have a very DIY attitude and I'm always curious to see how much I can get away with learning on my own. Ironically, practicing is the easy part. What to practice on the other hand...
    JRA likes this.
  13. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    you could probably take your band miles ahead if you just practiced the fingerings/licks the ensemble needed! a teacher would/could help you to 'economize' the practicing effort while helping to avoid strain(s).

    i regularly advise folks to tell their teachers what it is they want to accomplish with any lessons (most teachers ask, especially if the player is older with some experience). and: you don't have to take lessons forever: take few, let it 'cure', take a few more, let it 'cure'.....

    all the good teachers i've ever consulted said as much, i.e., "i'm just going to teach you how (or what) to practice!"
  14. By all means a competent established teacher is money well spent. Fine motor control, independence without strain or stress, posture, wrist angle, pedal technique, will all become second nature as well as practicing drills, sight reading, transposition, and timing once you have established yourself with a teacher.
    Also, find the most beat up, nastiest, and unforgiving acoustic piano to practice on. Besides learning velocity and dynamics, the physical action of all those hammers, keys, and dampers will build your chops up so when you play a synth action your fingers will fly..........

  15. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    The Beat-up piano worked for Glenn Gould. Maybe a really low stool to go with it. Perhaps you will be able to find the most beat up, nastiest, and unforgiving piano instructor to go with it. In Russia, the way you move your hands/wrists over the keys is a big deal as is playing scales. My instructors were always very nice.
  16. Firstly, yes, I agree.

    Secondly, despite that, you can get pretty far without help these days:

    Even though I'm a former music teacher, one of my teenage daughters is teaching herself piano from scratch without any music knowledge, just raw talent and dedication. She's learning from youtube. Not saying it's ideal, but with occasional pointers from me (good teacher, only involved 5% of the time), she's doing all the real work herself.

    She's very picky about matching hand position from the youtube videos etc.... but scales/exercises are of course where she's missing out quite a bit.

    However I don't have a good suggestion on book other than jazz hannon - I'm more used to teaching little kids to start in standard fare, not an adult how to learn as a second instrument who can already make music on the instrument. I'd be more hands on in your case, but I guarantee there are useful youtube videos out there which, along with something like jazz hannon or similar, would get you there.
  17. Chrisk-K


    Jan 20, 2010
    AZ, USA
    Take a formal lesson. Thanks to my mom, I took classical piano lessons for ten years when I was a kid. That was one of the best thing that ever happened to me.
  18. Holdsg

    Holdsg Talkbass > Work Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Alta Loma, CA
    piano was my first instrument, and spent age 8-18 with the same, very patient teacher.
    I realize you don't have that advantage, so if I was wanting to learn more as an adult, I think you have no choice but to work with a teacher. A good teacher will talk to you about your goals and adopt his/her teaching style accordingly. If you don't get that in the first visit, find a different teacher.
  19. nbsipics

    nbsipics Ours' is the only Reality of Consequence Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2016
    Like “bend at the knuckles and not at the wrist”. Funny, fighting in the burbs of Chicago taught me the same thing - more quickly. And if you read my posts you know why.
    Nashrakh and baddarryl like this.
  20. Rip Van Dan

    Rip Van Dan DNA Endorsing Artist Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Duvall, WA
    Although I took piano at a young age and again in college as part of my music major, I would never solo a song with it outside of the Doors' "Break on Through", which I had to figure out and play for a group I was in about 12 years ago. I can also play the intro to the Doors "Light My Fire" for the same reason. I had to get the sheet music so I could play it correctly, but I did that. I do have an old Yamaha DX7s, so I did have my own keyboard to use back then. That DX7s was the last DX7 model that Yamaha made and instead of having a max of 8 voices it has 16. So I can run 8 voices via midi and still play chords in real time with two hands.

    What I primarily do is play chords on the keys. Since I've always been one of those who is looking for the easiest way to play something, I'll always play around with inversions of the chords to see which ones are the easiest to put together and to judge whether or not they sound good in those inversions. It often makes the difference between moving just a finger or two, or moving the entire hand to another section of the keys.

    For instance on the Doors "Light my Fire" the chords in the verse are Am and F#m. I'll play the Am in root position with my thumb on the A, middle finger on the C, and little finger on the E. Then just move to the first inversion of the F#m chord keeping my thumb on the A and moving my other fingers to the C# (first finger) and the F# (little finger). This chord change is really easy and it sounds good too. Sometimes using the second inversion with the thumb on the 5th, index finger on the root, and little finger on the third works for other songs. Just spend a few moments going through the inversions to see what comes together most easily. Then at least the rhythm part of it becomes pretty simple.

    It was something that I learned in college. I don't recall if there was a specific book that had that info, but I found that info invaluable when playing keys.
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