Tip #1 Playing by Ear

Playing By Ear – My personal experience was the result of having a father who loved jazz and had a little bit of musical ability to play by ear. He was not afraid of making a mistake and he would often try to play the melodies of some of his favourite tunes. Whatever his intention it worked to get me interested because it got me trying to do the same thing and I discovered that I could actually find the notes faster than my dad. So a lesson for parents. Two suggestions. When you try to do something and can sort of succeed your child will possibly also try to do the same thing.
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What is Better About Late Bloomer Piano Player’s Guide

After years of watching and analyzing how pianists play and to hear them talk they generally don’t seem to understand how they accomplish what they do. There are different styles of playing and schools of thought but my explanation about transfer of weight and using momentum and physical self awareness while maintaining a state of relaxation is both safe and an efficient way to play the piano.  In addition I advocate using a system I call deconstructing the song. The song structure, the physical challenge of demanding passages, the variations that can be applied to the harmony and the rhythm are all starting points for developing exercises or studies that make the musical journey much more interesting.  I say to the reader they should get inside the head of the composer and try to discover their intention. Sometime scales and exercises are useful but using the composers ideas for technical mastery is more rewarding.

I would like to suggest large print. Glenn Gould once said that he could teach everything there is to know about the piano in half an hour. With this view and considering how reading has become a favorite pastime why not use large print and provide both old and young audiences a chance to enjoy learning without eye strain.

The Target Audience

I touched on it in my overview but the growing demographic of  seniors and retirees is growing steadily along with myself. I’ll be 56 in September and still going strong. Not quite a senior yet but my appreciation of what seniors like has been a part of being a performer.  Studying jazz got me in touch with the wealth of music by great song writers like George Gershwin, Hoagy Carmichael and Jimmy Van Heusen. The piano styles of Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, Teddy Wison, Errol Garner, Bill Evans and Keith Jarret have all been influences on my playing.  But that does not mean that classical pianists did not have my attention. The biggest of all was Glenn Gould who was also quite the intellectual.

My Bio

My Bio

My path is by no means any more amazing than many great musicians. I have always been quick to adapt. From the first time I picked up a classical book and was sight reading the Beethoven Sonatas based on what I knew about pop music to switching from a pop, classical, jazz and rock background to Musical Theatre and later becoming a writer through my teaching and blogging experiences. But I have had some great teachers and great opportunities.  When I decided music composition was what I wanted I attended the University of Toronto but never graduated because they expected all students to study 20th century Canadian music before ever studying Beethoven or Bach. I left university to join a rock band and got tired of that after 3 years to start directing Musical Theatre.

I then started arranging and composing for piano, bands, ensembles, choirs and orchestras.  My second instrument was the viola which I played for six years mostly my teen age years and was the member of the Etobicoke Youth Orchestra under Barry Gosse. A great educator and musician.

After doing Summer Stock theatre in cottage country for three years I was also able to do some Toronto productions of shows like Godspell and a couple of original productions. I became a ballet school accompanist and also grew from those experiences.

I did a year as Musical Director at the prestigious Royal York Hotel which had singing waiters and Bar Tenders. The position gave me the right to audition and develop the repertoire.

I decided in my 40’s to go back to school to complete my Bachelor of Science in computer programming. This period was a bit of a setback musically.  I spent about 10 years in IT going to school, graduating and then becoming  a teacher at a college part time.  I’ve returned to music and started writing.

With a few years of blogging mostly on energy and the environment and dabbling in philosophy I decided to return to music full time. This made me happier composing and writing were just what I was needing. Now a book while my other projects are on hold while I work on the book, teach music and continue with web design work for survival.

Some Beginner Piano Books I Recommend

Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course Lesson Book, Book 3
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Alfred’s Basic Adult Piano Course Lesson Book, Book 3
By Willard A. Palmer, Morton Manus, and Amanda Vick Lethco. For Piano. Method/Instruction; Piano – Alfred’s Basic Adult Piano Course. Alfred’s Basic Adult Piano Course. Book. 96 pages. Published by Alfred Music Publishing (AP.2263)

…more info

Alfred's Adult All-in-One Course - Level 1 (Book)
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Alfred’s Adult All-in-One Course – Level 1 (Book)
(Lesson * Theory * Technic). For piano. Method/Instruction; Piano – Alfred’s Basic Adult All-in-One Course; Technique Musicianship; Theory. Alfred’s Basic Adult Piano Course. Instructional. Beginner. Instructional book. Introductory text, instructional text, illustrations and performance notes. 160 pages. Published by Alfred Music Publishing (AP.5753)

…more info

Alfred's Adult All-in-One Course - Level 2 (Book/CD)
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Alfred’s Adult All-in-One Course – Level 2 (Book/CD)
(Lesson * Theory * Solo). For piano. Method/Instruction; Piano – Alfred’s Basic Adult All-in-One Course. Alfred’s Basic Adult Piano Course. Learn To Play and Play Along. Instructional book (spiral bound) and accompaniment CD. Introductory text, instructional text, standard notation and fingerings. 144 pages. Published by Alfred Music Publishing (AP.14534)

…more info

A lessons checklist

How to make the most of a lesson even when you do not have time to practice.

Some students like to have a short list and others like to have a long list of tasks to do at lessons.

What is the value of perfecting one task? I will come back to this again and again. The way we make playing easier is to pave the road that leads to the destination with pit stops and bridges that enable you to cross the many untraveled paths. We literally have to build our brains with receptive transmitters that enable the facility to do the tasks needed to accomplish our tasks. It’s better to get one thing really well than three things mediocre.