This ‘adult piano lessons’ web page was until December 2012 Lesson Seven of the Musicarta Pyramids Variations series of online keyboard creativity lessons.
The Pyramids Variations has now been released as a digital download home-study pack comprising a 150-page PDF text file, 200-plus audio and MIDI files of the musical examples given in there, a free MIDI-player ‘virtual keyboard’ app and 26 videos showing the key musical examples in the PDF playing with simultaneous scrolling music manuscript.
Skeleton series web pages like this one have been left on the site to show you how the Pyramids Variations can boost your ability to simply make music at the keyboard. This page now shows you briefly how Lesson Seven of the Pyramids Variations puts the last building block in place for the Part One Concert Performance. [Watch it on YouTube]
The page then hosts a more general look at what adults want in piano lessons
Explore the other pared-down Musicarta Pyramids Variations pages using the old series navigation link table in the right hand column, click through to the Pyramids Variations home page to learn more, or be recklessly impulsive and just…
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The four-chord B section
Lesson Seven of the Pyramids Variations takes the new ‘B section’ music from Lesson Six and expands it to ‘four chord’ status.
Compare the two version.
Here is the simplest version of the new B section version:
Here is the version you’re playing by the end of Lesson Seven:
Notice how the Pyramids Variations builds impressive music from simple building blocks that anyone can master. (To properly appreciate this point you should look through all the skeleton Pyramids Variations web pages – use the series navigation table in the right-hand column.)
Musicarta shows you the right way to practice, so that you can learn to play music you might at first think is way beyond your abilities.
We all know – in principle – that just ‘wading in and slogging through’ isn’t an efficient way to learn, but in the Pyramids Variations, the text, illustrations, audio clips and MidiPiano performances actually walk you through finding the new bass notes, expanding the two non-BMP seventh chords, rehearsing the chords on there own before adding the melody, and so on – all without being able to read the music first.
Not only is this a great learning habit to acquire, it also ‘models’ all creative keyboard work. Knowing and mastering these elements is the foundation of creative keyboard musicality.
This is the end of the Pyramids-related content on this web page. Before going on to consider adult piano lessons as a topic, may we invite you to...
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What do adults look for in piano lessons? Some thoughts on adult piano re-starters and continuers, and “going back to piano lessons.”
How many times have the heartfelt words “I wish I’d never given up the piano!” been uttered? Sadly, too many …!
Youngsters stop taking lessons for a variety of reasons, some good and some bad, but many, later in life, wish they hadn’t stopped and could now ‘just sit down and play.’ As adults, they sometimes come back to the keyboard determined to revive half-forgotten skills and continue their musical journey. The special character of their renewed commitment and needs deserves both recognition and a matching response in terms of teaching material and method.
Often, adult re-starters are hoping the second time round to remain more connected with the creative impulse that initially drew them to the piano. With exceptions, they will probably not want to study classical repertoire or take exams, and will probably be hoping to get emotional satisfaction from their playing rather than simply becoming good pianists.
Limited technical achievement can be very satisfying if we make the ability to enjoy performance – to be carried away – a goal in itself. But in addition, creative learning material should ideally ‘build’, with all the intermediate stages of learning a piece being satisfying, rather than only the finished product in its entirety, as is the case with classical pieces and conventional teaching. The adult re-starter deserves to come away from every lesson with something to show and enjoy.
Secondly, creative keyboard lessons shift the emphasis from the composer and the piece to the player and the piece’s potential as a springboard to further creation. Good creative keyboard teaching material enables the learner to create something unique, using the skills and knowledge acquired in learning the original material.
Many pianists are limited in what they can attempt to play by their sight-reading.
Actually, fully written-out music, while fine as a reminder of what you know, tends to dominate the attention and create anxiety and will have only a limited place in the development of the second-time-round creative keyboard musician.
So non-manuscript teaching material which makes sight-reading largely irrelevant would be valuable. Text (as a ‘script’ for lessons), illustrations, audio, video and other technological resources can all help the learner achieve a performance and acquire creative keyboard skills. “Piano lessons should be more like guitar lessons!” – knowing how to play keyboard from chord symbols, at the very least, is a relevant benchmark.
Following on from this, materials and the teaching method should take advantage of available technology. The contemporary music teacher should be up to date and able to help pupils take advantage of modern technological resources too. MIDI files demonstrating performances can be played on free, easily downloaded desktop applications. ‘Backing tracks’ to play over encourage good rhythm and allow even the novice to be transported and ‘feel like a real musician’. The Internet is a safe and speedy source of sheet music and provides performance models of tens of thousands of attractive contemporary pieces, links to which can be emailed to pupils – and so on.
Fourthly, in modern creative keyboard teaching material, practice and theory will be better integrated. In fact, a ‘practical grasp of music theory’ lies at the heart of improvising and playing by ear, often incorrectly considered innate talents which cannot be taught or learnt though they frequently feature high on the wish-list of adult learners. Much of popular music is understandable in terms of relatively simple concepts like key, chords and chord structure, which, one understood, greatly speed progress.
Fifthly, rhythmic skills should be consciously and methodically developed. Many much-loved non-classical performances are in fact quite simple chord material combined with basic but irresistible rhythmic textures. These rhythmic keyboard skills - more like drumming than anything else – can be methodically taught.
Time and the ability to commit to physical lessons is often a constraining factor for adults. A teacher, if found, must have the abilities the learner wants to acquire, and appreciation of the learner’s needs and a readiness take the risks required to develop a pupil’s creativity and his or her ability to enjoy it.
Often, though, self-study is the only option – choosing learning material then becomes the issue. In the new audio-visual era, printed material on its own is becoming less and less satisfying and is difficult to source on a see-before-you-buy basis. The Internet, with its audio-visual dimension, is an obvious alternative place to look.
Teach-yourself material available on the Internet tends to be either huge mail-order all-and-everything packages promising instant success or bitty play-this-by-so-and-so YouTube videos. Serious, structured learning material which sits somewhere in the middle and satisfies all the criteria outlined above can, however, be found – at www.musicarta.com.
Musicarta has many progressive lesson series. Two of these have now been packaged for offline home study – the Pyramids Variations and the Musicarta Canon Project.
[Combined table in Pyramids re-launch doc.]
You can access the skeleton web pages for these two series via the series navigation panels on the The Pyramids Variations and Canon Project home pages. These will give you a good idea of the content and style of the digital download home study packs.
Both these series teach you to play beautiful chord textures at the keyboard and lead you from simple to elaborate performances of chord sequences, which you will understand in a way which enables you to make the leap to creating your own music.
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Both programmes demonstrate theoretical elements in practice. Learning is supported with richly illustrated text, conventional music manuscript, audio and MIDI support files and video.