Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Spilling the Beans

Here's a question I get all the time. How can you teach
classrooms full of people how to play piano in just one
afternoon? Learning to play an instrument is supposed
to take years.

I don't often reveal the answer to that question. Until
how the answer has remained a secret that I only reveal
when students take my workshops. Actually there are
several secrets involved here. But a lot of people
never get a chance to take the three and a half hour
workshop from me, so I've decided to reveal some of
these secrets here. If you're curious, read on. It's
time, finally, to spill the beans.

The first secret concerns learning to read music
notation. I avoid it as much as possible. It's learning
to read music that takes a huge amount of time and
dedication. If we take that out of the equation, we can
go directly to "playing the piano."

"But isn't it necessary to read music before you can
play an instrument?"


I can read music somewhat, but I seldom do when I play
piano. And I know a fair amount of good piano players
who do not read music at all. Not a single note.

Note reading does have its place. There have been times
that I've found it helpful. But it's not essential. You
don't learn to read before you talk, do you? For the
same reason, you don't need to master note reading
before you play an instrument.

Why do most piano teachers insist on teaching reading
from the very beginning? Maybe it's because that's how
they were taught.

Now let's clarify a couple of points. What I've just
said about reading music is not be true for learning to
play classical music. Since "classical" is the genre
that is generally taught by typical music teachers, I
guess that's why reading music in general is emphasized
so much.

But we want to be able to read somewhat, don't we? Yes
we do. And all the important parts of music reading are
covered in the first three pages of our basic book,
Popular Chord Style Piano.

And you can get roughly the same information by
downloading a pamphlet from our web site, no charge.
You may have already done this. The pamphlet gives you
all the essentials, but none of the fluff. And you can
get through it in under 30 minutes. Pamphlet download.

So are there other secrets? Yes. Maybe we'll talk about
them later. In the mean time, it's play time for me.


  1. I have trouble reading the notes.. in fact I find it easier to play by ear. Please let me know if you're coming Singapore to conduct your workshop, I'll be the first to sign up!


  2. "Reading the notes" and "playing by ear" are just two paths one can choose to take toward reaching the same goal, that of playing music. Both are valid and both have their pros and cons and challenges.

    I'd love to come to Singapore to do classes. I need someone to make the workshop arrangements.

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