In this piano video I demonstrate a couple fairly unusual chord progressions for the old Christmas Carol “Jingle Bells”. The chord progression makes use of both a different rhythm and a different chord sequence. Watch:
If you or a family member are planning to take piano lessons, you’re going to need an instrument at home in order to practice. Like every big purchase, you must be armed with a lot of research before you purchase an instrument.
Should I purchase an electric or electronic keyboard?
Maybe, but probably not. Electric keyboards, any instrument with a traditional piano keyboard but plugs in to an outlet and has no strings is what we will call an electric keyboard. The ideal answer to this question is, no, you cannot.
These keyboards or synthesizers are incredible instruments and should not be looked at as the black sheep of the piano family but there are limitations with these instruments. First, unless you purchase a professional grade acoustic model, you probably won’t have the 88 keys that come on a traditional piano. At the beginning of your piano lessons you won’t need all of these keys but soon enough, you’ll run out of keys on that synthesizer.
Second, without a professional level acoustic piano, the keys won’t feel the same as a traditional piano and this will cause problems as you become a better player. In order to purchase an electric piano that closely simulates the feel of a real piano, you’ll pay as much as the cost of buying a new or quality used piano.
Of course, if you find a synthesizer that works well at an incredible price, you could use that until you start playing more complex music but at some point you will probably need a real piano. Having a real piano is ideal but if your only option is a synthesizer, that will be just fine for the beginning stages.
How much should I pay for a piano?
You’ve probably noticed that pianos range from affordable to more money than even the nicest home. If money weren’t an issue (wouldn’t that be nice) you would be best served to purchase an intermediate model piano that would last you as long as you played. If you get a beginning model, it may require a lot of tuning or break after a few years. You don’t need a luxury, professional line piano unless you play for a long time and decide that you want to make a career of piano or have the financial means to do it.
Remember, some people purchase pianos for their children and when they grow older and move out, moms and dads want the piano to go with them. You can find great used pianos for bargain prices in your community. Before purchasing, pay a piano technician to check the condition of the sound board and keys.
What brands should I focus on?
Like most products, this is largely a matter of opinion. Most musical instruments in the intermediate category are handmade so there can be beautiful sounding instruments as well as musical lemons in every brand. Most people buying a musical instrument will play multiple instruments from the same make and model before deciding on one. Brand names like Steinway and Baldwin and Yamaha and Kawaii are commonly considered trusted names but others may be just as good. If I could afford a Bosendorfer, that would be my first choice, but certainly not for a beginner. This is another one of those times were a piano technician can help you and paying them a little bit of money to evaluate the instrument is money well spent.
How often should I have my piano tuned?
Tuning not only makes the piano sound good, it keeps the strings properly tensioned. Consistent tension not only keeps the strings sounding good but it also keeps the proper and even tension on the soundboard which helps to keep it from cracking. When you tune a piano once every 6 months to a year, it will stay in tune longer and the tone of the piano will improve. (By the way, you cannot tune a piano yourself. If you have a DIY type of person in the house, don’t let them touch the piano.)
Keep reading. Before heading out to purchase an instrument, learn everything you can about what to look for in a quality piano. There are plenty of resources on this site as well as piano manufacturer sites, consumer sites, blogs, and forums.
If you want to play hymns straight out of the hymnbook as is, go to it. But most hymnbooks are written for 4-part voices — not for piano — and it’s a shame to waste all those 10 fingers of yours on just 4 part harmony when you could be getting such a much bigger and more flavorful sound! When sopranos, altos, tenors and basses sing those four parts, it sounds great. But you as a pianist have a MUCH bigger range. You have 88 keys, from the lowest A to the highest C. So why not use many of those to create more interest and color in your gospel songs and hymns? Watch this short little video I made to demonstrate some of the ways that can be done:
Why do I need to learn scales and chords and music theory? Well, if you have the talent of a Mozart or Bach or Erroll Garner or Oscar Peterson or Dave Brubeck, you probably don’t. But if you’re like the rest of us — and 99.9% of us are – the more you learn about music, the better. After all, chords are formed from scales, and scales are the building-blocks of melody. And of course there would be no rhythm without the juxtapostion of note values and chord lengths. If you are at all interested in increasing your knowledge of music in any of these areas, come on over to http://www.playpianocatalog.com and browse through our 300-plus courses.
It is very easy to locate the key of a song when there are sharps in the key signature (major keys — we’ll discuss relative minor keys later) simply by locating the last sharp to the right in the key signature in a piece of music and going up one-half step. Watch this short video and your instantly understand: