Learning musical instruments

ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
Is anyone learning a musical instrument?

Or has, and has pearls of wisdom, or tales of abject failure :naughty: , to share?

I'm 95% sure, after a visit to the music shop today, that I am going to go back tomorrow and place down my money for a term of digital piano lessons. I was considering the guitar, but it does not appeal greatly to me, despite me liking the sound. If the teacher starts wearing noise-cancelling headphones from week 6 I might go over to guitar, but I do like the sound of a piano and I think it would be a challenge for me.
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Comments

  • BroJamesBroJames Shipmate
    Good for you! There will be ups and downs and plateaux, but persistence and practice pays off.
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, 8th Day Host
    Go for it!
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    If you haven't bought your digital piano yet, shop around. Be sure to select one that has a responsive realistic piano touch and a full set of pedals (damper, sostenuto, una corda). Realistic tone is important too. I have a Roland MP500 and am very satisfied with it.
  • Lily PadLily Pad Shipmate
    If there is anyone else in the house, get earphones. They will give you many hours of pleasure.
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    Thank you all for the advice and encouragement; much appreciated.

    Lily Pad: I live alone thankfully. But in an apartment, so perhaps I can give the neighbours ear muffs in case I start singing or humming loudly as I play!

    Amanda: not as yet...thanks for the advice. I'll talk about it with the shop owner [the lessons are through the music store] when I go back today.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Here's my MP500. I obtained a matching bench on Ebay.
  • The best advice I can give is to pick a piece of music that you really love and to which you aspire. Then using everything you learn from lessons, experimenting and if possible watching a professional play it, keep bashing away at it like one of those people polishing a crumpled ball of tinfoil. I learned more about the guitar from attempting to play Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb than I ever did from endless scale and spanning exercises.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    I'd say, go for the instrument you really want to play and stick at it. You aren't a child. Don't try to learn something else because a music teacher says 'O but you should start with the recorder/violin/piano or whatever'. If it's the piano that grips you, get a piano and learn. If it's a sax, get a sax and learn. If it's the highland pipes, get a set and learn - though best out of doors and in a large open space.

    And find someone who can show you how to get started, and can tell you what beginner's book to use. That's particularly important with something that it's not that obvious how to get the notes to come out.
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited April 27
    Here's my MP500. I obtained a matching bench on Ebay.
    We bought a Kawai digital piano (not a "keyboard"!) last year. Although it's one of their cheapest (around £750) we've been pleased with it. One advantage of an electronic piano is indeed that you can listen through headphones and not annoy the neighbours, though people downstairs may still hear you depressing the keys.

  • PriscillaPriscilla Shipmate
    Darllenwr got the same model electric piano as in our church - a Dexibell.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    ... One advantage of an electronic piano is indeed that you can listen through headphones and not annoy the neighbours, though people downstairs may still hear you depressing the keys.
    Wow. How hard are you pressing them?
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    My thought precisely.

    Digital pianos also are always in tune. There's nothing worse than an out-of-tune piano.
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    Most importantly, whenever you play a wrong note call it jazz.
  • Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host, 8th Day Host
    Buy a good instrument - as others have said. Take advice based on what you want to play for.

    And practice all the time. Every day. Whatever instrument, it takes a lot of time, and practicing every day gets the muscle memory working, and gives you a chance ot perfect things (as much as you want).

    And it is painful for a while, because you are using muscles you don't normally use. So work through the pain, just enough to push yourself a little further. And it will sound terrible at times - especially in the early months. And that is the way it is. Don't worry about it.

    Keep practicing. You need to like the instrument and the music, because you will hate it sometimes. But the 10K hours rule does apply - 10K hours to be able to play an instrument. Not to play brilliantly, just to be able to play it reasonably.
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, 8th Day Host
    ...There's nothing worse than an out-of-tune piano.

    Oh, yes, there is, said the mother of a onetime beginning violinist.



  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    ...There's nothing worse than an out-of-tune piano.

    Oh, yes, there is, said the mother of a onetime beginning violinist.



    We could argue about this but reed instruments played ineptly all sound like something dreadful is being done to a goose.

    On the positive side I hope to have some more time to myself soon, so I may take up an instrument. Possibly bass guitar but piano if I want to learn a musical instrument.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    However, the one big advantage that violins, saxes and even highland pipes have over the piano, and for that matter the guitar if played at all properly, is that you only have to read one line of music and only play one note at a time.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Enoch wrote: »
    However, the one big advantage that violins . . . is that you only have to read one line of music and only play one note at a time.
    J.S. Bach must not have known this when he wrote his partitas for unaccompanied violin.
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    ...There's nothing worse than an out-of-tune piano.
    Oh, yes, there is, said the mother of a onetime beginning violinist.

    Touché
  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    However, the one big advantage that violins, saxes and even highland pipes have over the piano, and for that matter the guitar if played at all properly, is that you only have to read one line of music and only play one note at a time.
    Which is why I wish I had learned piano before playing (or attempting to play) other instruments. If you can simultaneously read and play ten notes in two different clefs, a one-note-at-a-time instrument should be a breeze. (And, of course, organists also have to play another line with their feet!)
  • jedijudyjedijudy Heaven Host
    Good for you, Climacus!!
    ... keep bashing away at it like one of those people polishing a crumpled ball of tinfoil.
    Amen!!
    Also, some people think it's most ideal to learn an instrument as a child. True, children learn things pretty quickly as they are in that stage of being learning sponges. However, sometimes adults can learn more rapidly than children, because adults want to study an instrument!

    A story of encouragement: A great grandmother came very shyly to me, saying she had always wanted to learn to play hymns on the piano. Her parents had told her as a child that she had no musical talent. So, her siblings learned instruments, and she envied their supposed talent. Well, long story short, within a year she was playing from the hymnal (as long as they were in the keys of C, G or F!) The moral of this story...if you want to play an instrument (and resolve to keep bashing away) you will!
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Pigwidgeon wrote: »
    Enoch wrote: »
    However, the one big advantage that violins, saxes and even highland pipes have over the piano, and for that matter the guitar if played at all properly, is that you only have to read one line of music and only play one note at a time.
    Which is why I wish I had learned piano before playing (or attempting to play) other instruments. If you can simultaneously read and play ten notes in two different clefs, a one-note-at-a-time instrument should be a breeze. (And, of course, organists also have to play another line with their feet!)

    You'd think, but I found that playing fast flowing lead lines on electric guitar can be every bit as challenging as the pipe organ.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    However, the one big advantage that violins, saxes and even highland pipes have over the piano, and for that matter the guitar if played at all properly, is that you only have to read one line of music and only play one note at a time.

    Did you know that the French Horn, and for all I know other brass instruments as well, can play chords?
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    KarlLB wrote: »
    Did you know that the French Horn, and for all I know other brass instruments as well, can play chords?
    No, I didn't. That's interesting. How do they do it?
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    KarlLB wrote: »
    Did you know that the French Horn, and for all I know other brass instruments as well, can play chords?
    No, I didn't. That's interesting. How do they do it?

    You play the tonic and at the same time hum the fifth. A major third comes in through sympathetic vibration. Other chords are possible, but the major triad was the one I had demonstrated by my horn tutor.
  • Go for it Ian.

    Choose the instrument you really want to play. It's much more motivating.

    I think the reason it's supposedly easier for children to learn instruments is that they get less frustrated by not being able to get something right straight away. Learning an instrument is a process of failing upwards - you repeat the same gesture over and over and over and your muscles gradually learn how to get it right.

    This is also the reason why it's better to practice for fifteen minutes every day than two hours once a week - it's a much more successful way of reinforcing the circuits in your brain.
  • Lily PadLily Pad Shipmate
    JediJudi's post reminded me of how enjoyable it is to play hymns from the hymn book. Once you have been studying for a little bit, ask your teacher to show you how to tell which hymns have no sharps or flats and then you'll be able to pick out many hymns. You will progress quite a bit just by playing tunes that you already know. It will help you become more automatic at things too.
  • Pigwidgeon wrote: »
    Enoch wrote: »
    However, the one big advantage that violins, saxes and even highland pipes have over the piano, and for that matter the guitar if played at all properly, is that you only have to read one line of music and only play one note at a time.
    Which is why I wish I had learned piano before playing (or attempting to play) other instruments. If you can simultaneously read and play ten notes in two different clefs, a one-note-at-a-time instrument should be a breeze. (And, of course, organists also have to play another line with their feet!)

    Not necessarily. My mental model defaults to "one note, one finger", which on many instruments is not true. You can need, say, 2, 4, and 7 fingers to play a run that on a keyboard instrument you might be able to play with the same finger for each note.
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    Thank you all for both the encouragement and the information. And all great suggestions on practising too.

    I signed up for piano lessons, starting this Thursday after work. Very much looking forward to it. Quite excited.

    Here's hoping I'm not kicked out due to being a talentless hack after lesson 1... :wink:
  • Climacus wrote: »
    Thank you all for both the encouragement and the information. And all great suggestions on practising too.

    I signed up for piano lessons, starting this Thursday after work. Very much looking forward to it. Quite excited.

    Here's hoping I'm not kicked out due to being a talentless hack after lesson 1... :wink:

    Just three things to remember: practice, practice and practice and don't have the illusion that you will be playing a concerto after one lesson!

    As someone has already said 15 mins a day is good. I tend to play something while waiting for the kettle to boil, or if I have a few mins to kill before going out etc even a few scales.

    Good luck and do keep us informed of your progress
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    Sorry?!?! You mean after a 30 min lesson I won't be ready for the Opera House???
    :disappointed:

    Good advice. I live alone so time should not be a problem. I like the idea of practising as the kettle boils, or perhaps as dinner cooks (as long as I remember and don't turn it to charcoal). Smart thinking, thanks.
  • edited April 28
    Hey Climacus - I don't know about your budget, but I bought a 2nd hand Yamaha P80 'stage piano' for about £200. My kids have been learning on it for a couple of years, and they're doing ok - grades 2 and 3 coming up, respectively.

    Myself - I bought a bass a while back on the basis that it was in a music shop, cheap and 2nd hand, and no-one has ever got one so I thought it would come in handy (I'm a guitarist, usually). This weekend I'm halfway through being bassist in the praise band at Catholic spring harvest, which is unlikely on just about all levels, but despite myself I'm really enjoying it, and so (more importantly) are my kids. It turns out I don't mind it when nice people pray or sing in tongues, and they don't mind it that my Mission Praise chops are a bit obsolete for the latest charismatic repertoire.
  • blackbeardblackbeard Shipmate
    Many thanks for this thread, which is a great encouragement. I have, since forever, been trying to learn to play classic guitar, but about 10 minutes practice per week isn't showing great results, now trying to devote a bit more time - we shall see if that works but I don't expect to become Segovia. But there's the hope that, if I keep this up, I might be able to play bits of Bach and Dowland moderately well.
    I have been told that anyone wishing to sing should also learn to play an instrument of some description. Singing (bass) seems to be somewhat more successful than playing, but I could easily be convinced that the playing does indeed help.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    There have been well known and highly successful professional singers who couldn't read a note of music (Kate Smith springs to mind, and I think Frank Sinatra). However, personally I have found it very helpful to my singing to be able to read music, if not necessarily to play an instrument.
  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    There have been well known and highly successful professional singers who couldn't read a note of music (Kate Smith springs to mind, and I think Frank Sinatra).

    Apparently Luciano Pavarotti did not read music, and I think we might consider him to have been "well known and highly successful."
    :wink:
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    Can I display my ignorance and ask about a classic guitar? Is it different from a "standard" one (if such a beast exists?).

    Id love to hear about your progress, blackbeard.

    Thank you all for the great advice and suggestions. The stores nearest me are Yamaha shops so I got a full size digital piano from them, P-125 on suggestion of another teacher. With headphones for my apartment neighbours. First lesson this afternoon. Quite excited.

  • Climacus wrote: »
    Can I display my ignorance and ask about a classic guitar? Is it different from a "standard" one (if such a beast exists?).

    In my opinion, and I will stand corrected if need be, the difference between the guitars is the style in which they are played.

    Good luck for this afternoon. Please let us all know how it went.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Climacus wrote: »
    I got a full size digital piano from them, P-125 . . . . Quite excited.

    Very good choice. Enjoy!
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    Well, Thursday 15:30 may be my new favourite time of the week.

    I really enjoyed this first lesson. A great teacher (very young...or I'm just old!) with a good sense of humour.

    We started off learning the notes on the treble clef on a music sheet. Then we looked at the base clef. Then we numbered my fingers. Then I put my right-hand on. Then my left.

    And that was where the fun began. My fingers refused to move independently -- tried to depress my middle finger and down came the ring finger too. Tried a bit more. The right hand sometimes behaved but I lost track of my left (we played right first then left; not at the same time!) I was playing 4-8 bars at a time (if bars is the right term). There was much stopping and restarting.

    He then introduced me to a book he has from the 1800s on finger exercises and announced we'd be using that a bit given my performance.

    It was then on to intervals and me attempting to depress 2 keys at once. It was not a success. E and G became F and G and D and F became E and G... But it's practice. And second time round I was a bit better.

    In a generous spirit he told me I did well reading the notes. That's a start I'm happy with.

    Time to practice remembering how to read the notes - Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit ... F A C E .... All Cows Eat Grass ... What did you learn for the lines on the Bass Clef?: I was given Great Big Dreams For Australia -- I guess that does not travel.
  • Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host, 8th Day Host
    Climacus wrote: »
    Can I display my ignorance and ask about a classic guitar? Is it different from a "standard" one (if such a beast exists?).

    A classical guitar would usually be strung with plastic strings, and not have a scratch board. A folk guitar ("standard" if you want) has a scratch board and has metal strings. A Spanish guitar is similar, but usually has two scratch boards.

    An electric guitar needs to have metal strings to work - the sound is picked up directly from the strings vibrating over pickups. A semi-acoustic can have pickups, but also can have a microphone in (or attached to) the body, so can use any strings as the sound is picked up from the vibations of the body, not the strings.
  • Climacus wrote: »
    Well, Thursday 15:30 may be my new favourite time of the week.

    Time to practice remembering how to read the notes - Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit ... F A C E .... All Cows Eat Grass ... What did you learn for the lines on the Bass Clef?: I was given Great Big Dreams For Australia -- I guess that does not travel.


    For the bass I learnt Good Boys Do Fine Always and All Cows Eat Grass
  • Climacus wrote: »
    Well, Thursday 15:30 may be my new favourite time of the week.

    I really enjoyed this first lesson. A great teacher (very young...or I'm just old!) with a good sense of humour.


    Sounds like a great teacher. I had an older lady whose sense of humour had escaped her and lessons at times were quite tedious and uninspiring. My mother would keep me focused when I became 'browned off' with the old dear. I called on her some years ago before she passed away and it was great to see her and yes, she made me play while she prepared some wine and cheese and was thrilled that I had kept up playing.
  • BroJamesBroJames Shipmate
    Notes on the bass clef lines are Green Buses Drive Faster Always (or at least that’s how I remember them). [tangent]In my south London childhood red buses were the everyday usual buses. Green (Greenline) buses went longer distances out into the country.)[\tangent]
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited May 3
    Is Outrage! "Good Boys Deserve Fruit Always"!!! See: http://www.countrybus.org/rf/RF113c.jpg
  • jedijudyjedijudy Heaven Host
    I'm so glad you enjoyed your first lesson, Climacus! It sounds like you have a wonderful teacher!

    All Cars Eat Gas
    George Burns Died Friday Afternoon

    My students came up with some funny phrases to remember the lines and spaces. I should have written them down!
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Yes to All Cars Eat Gas for the bass clef spaces.
    But the lines are Good Burritos Don't Fall Apart!
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Climacus wrote: »
    Well, Thursday 15:30 may be my new favourite time of the week.

    Time to practice remembering how to read the notes - Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit ... F A C E .... All Cows Eat Grass ... What did you learn for the lines on the Bass Clef?: I was given Great Big Dreams For Australia -- I guess that does not travel.


    For the bass I learnt Good Boys Do Fine Always and All Cows Eat Grass
    This. And for the treble clef, we learned Every Good Boy Does Fine.

    So glad you enjoyed the first lesson, Cyprian!

  • Lily PadLily Pad Shipmate
    In Canada, we are not as healthy as you are. Forget "fruit" as a reward. We use "All good boys deserve fudge."

    "All cows eat grass" and "Good boys deserve fudge always" were also used.
  • BroJamesBroJames Shipmate
    Lily Pad wrote: »
    In Canada, we are not as healthy… We use "All good boys deserve fudge."
    I think that needs to be “Every good boy deserves fudge."
  • WildHaggisWildHaggis Shipmate
    Doesn't matter what sentence you use, so long as you remember it.
    Secret of learning the piano (or any instrument, and I play several) is not to run before you can walk and keep practicing. Half an hour a day to begin with. A good teacher will choose appropriate music for your age group and level. Just enjoy yourself. If you get fed up with wrong notes one day - give it a rest and come back the next day. You'll get there.

    Classical guitar has nylon or gut strings, not plastic and doesn't have a finger board - I play one!
    Classical guitar can be difficult unless you have an excellent teacher. It is different from picking out a tune or a 6 stringer.

    If you have steel string guitar use a pick or harden your fingers first by using surgical spirit (but not when you have a cut or you will hit the ceiling - or maybe the moon). I speak from experience!! When I was 17 I decided to teach myself folk guitar ( I already played renaissance recorders and some percussion) and shreaded my fingers on 6 string steel model. Ouch - blood everywhere. Soon ditched it and bought a nylon strung guitar!!!!

    Good luck all you new instrumentalists. Enjoy it. It's worth the practice. If it ceases to be fun, give up and choose a different instrument or play at chess!
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Slight tangent, but did anyone learn mnemonics to identify the order of sharps and flats on the staff?

    For sharps: "Fat cats go down alleys eating bagels."
    For flats: "Bagel eaters always do great creating flatulence."

    Actually, rather more vulgar slang for "creating flatulence" but this is a Christian website after all.
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