Beginner’s Piano Lessons – What You Need to Know

If you are thinking about starting piano lessons for the first time, you may be wondering what to expect in your lessons. The first few piano lessons, regardless if they are in a traditional private lesson, a group piano class, or even a method of self-study, usually focus on a few simple concepts and exercises to get the absolutely new piano player started.

You will first learn about some of the essential parts of the piano: the keyboard or manual, the strings, the soundboard, and the pedals, and how these parts work together. The keyboard consists of eighty-eight keys that sound from left to right the instrument’s lowest note to its highest one. When a key is pressed, a hammer strikes one or more strings that are strung tightly across a brass harp inside the piano’s body. A soundboard amplifies the sound of the vibrating string producing the tone that we hear. When a key is released, felt dampeners stop the strings from sounding. The piano’s three foot-pedals affect the sound of the instrument in different ways. The most frequently used pedal is the right-most one called the sustain pedal. The sustain pedal inhibits the dampeners from stopping the vibrating strings until the pedal is released.

Now that you have some basic understanding of the piano’s workings, you will then probably spend some time learning how to sit at the piano, and how to place your hands on the keys. These two lessons are extremely important, especially for adult students. Piano players need to learn a sitting position and hand position that efficiently allows them access to all the keys, as well as not put any undue strain on their body.

The acoustic piano, unlike an electronic keyboard, actually takes quite a bit of strength and flexibility to play. Professional classical pianists share much in common with athletes: fine motor skills, highly trained muscles, and the ability for a great deal of concentration. Like athletes, if pianists over practice or use incorrect technique, they risk injury.

Once you learn how to sit and place your hands, you usually learn the fingering system, and the middle C hand position. Middle C refers to the note and piano key that is literally in the middle of the keyboard. The fingers of both hands are simply numbered from one through five starting with the thumb. You will also learn some rudimentary music theory in the first or second lesson, typically the musical alphabet and how it relates to the repeating pattern of black and white keys of the keyboard.

Students learn to play their first notes with an emphasis on producing a clear tone, while moving the fingers of the two hands in parallel and contrary motion. You also begin learning to read music at this point, with an introduction to the piano staff, simple rhythms, and how they relate to the middle C hand position.

Once you understand these basics, you will learn about other hand positions, and will probably begin to play simple songs or pieces. It is at this point different methodologies, learning curves, and repertoire will be introduced. Which direction your piano lessons will take will depend on your needs and desires, as well as those methods that the instructor favors.

If we are learning classical piano, your lessons will focus on learning pieces and studies from different style periods at a graduated level of difficulty. Lessons will be complimented with the study of technical exercises such as scales, and possibly even more music theory.

If you are studying popular musical styles, you will begin to learn some written out arrangements of familiar tunes, as well as how to build and play different chords, common chord progressions, and typical song forms. Jazz piano lessons will add in the dimension of improvisation techniques.

Ukulele Lessons – What You Can Expect

The ukulele craze has not reached Singapore as it has in the United States or Hawaii. However it is getting popular as there are a couple of music schools in Singapore which are actively promoting ukulele playing. In Singapore, the most popular music instrument is the guitar, so there are plenty of guitar teachers but less ukulele teachers. Some guitar teachers taught themselves how to play the ukulele, to meet the demands of ukulele lessons in Singapore. As such when you take ukulele lessons in Singapore, you can expect that your ukulele teacher can play both the guitar and the ukulele.

The music education scene in Singapore for Ukulele is such that your child has the option to take ukulele lessons from government schools. All government schools in Singapore are assigned a budget to promote the arts, whether it be music, drama etc. Many engage a music school in Singapore to source for experienced ukulele teachers. The other option is to learn the ukulele from a music school in Singapore.

What can you expect from ukulele lessons in Singapore? First of all, once you decide on learning how to play the ukulele, you can expect that you have made the right decision as the ukulele is one of the easiest music instruments to learn in a music school in Singapore. Ukulele lessons are easy as the ukulele has only four strings, compared to the guitar which has six strings. The music instrument itself is small and portable. If you check out the ukulele for sale in your local music store, you will find that the beginner ukulele is very affordable compared to other music instruments.

Before you start on your ukulele lessons in Singapore, you will need to select and buy your ukulele. There is a wide range of ukulele for sale, price starting from fifty dollars for a beginner soprano ukulele to a handcrafted one that costs thousands of dollars. You can ask your ukulele teacher in Singapore to advise you the type of ukulele to buy.

Now I will proceed to advise you what you can expect from ukulele lessons in Singapore:

Firstly, for your beginner ukulele lesson in Singapore, you will be taught to identify different parts of the ukulele. Your ukulele teacher will identify for you the tuning pegs, the four different strings on the ukulele, and so forth. You will be taught how to care for your ukulele. After each practice, use a cleaning cloth to wipe your ukulele before storing in the bag.

Secondly, your ukulele teacher in Singapore will teach you how to tune the music instrument. As a beginner, you will need to use a music tuner to tune your instrument. It is important to tune your instrument before you play, so as to be able to strum to a tune perfectly. As the ukulele is a string instrument, and the strings are in tension all the time, it is normal for the strings to be out of tune a couple of days after you have tuned it. The other factors that causes the ukulele to go out of tune is the strength which you use to strum the instrument, temperature differences and humidity changes.

Thirdly, you will learn how to position you finger to play on your music instrument. Where you position your fingers determines which notes are produces. You will be able to strum to a song with the combination of correct finger positioning coupled with strumming at the right time. With four strings on the ukulele, you can produce many different chords with different finger positioning.

Fourthly, your ukulele teacher in Singapore will teach you how to read chord diagrams. It may look very complicated to someone with no music background, but actually picking up different ways of playing chords is easy.

Finally, you need to have a grasp of rhythm and an idea of how to strum to the correct rhythm. Your ukulele teacher will demonstrate this a few times for you, and you will follow your teacher’s lead. On your part you will need to practice and practice to perfect learning to play the ukulele.

Dobro Lessons – Music Theory + Playing by Ear = Super Musician!

Here are 3 things I recommend you memorize.

1.    All the notes of the dobro or specific instrument

2.    All the Key Signatures

3.    All the Chords and Chord Tones for each key

Question: Why do this?

Answer: To gain a more complete understanding of your instrument, and to know where you are at all times and to know why what you are playing may sound good and why it may sound not so good.

Question: Is there an easier way? Can I get around not knowing any music theory and not knowing where any of the notes on my instrument are located?

Answer: I have found if you do not want to learn any music theory one can still play and in fact get quit good. Tons of great players have done it, and this is what I think ones options are if they want to get really good, but do not want to learn any music theory.

No Music Theory Option 1:

(I highly recommend doing this “In addition” to also understanding music theory)

To simply transcribe tons and tons and tons of songs, solos, rhythm playing, song forms, etc…so many that you can use the memory of those solos to dictate what you should play when you hear it in the context of a song. Your memory of all the songs and solos that you’ve learned and transcribed will trigger a muscle memory with your fingers and mind, and it will be like you are speaking with your instrument. Simply reacting to what you hear like you would if you were carrying on a conversation with someone. You will see all the patterns, and scales, and key signatures more as shapes that you equate to things that you’ve learned from solos, songs, and other musicians. You will have a working knowledge of the theory, but will not know why any of it works. You just know it does.

This is actually a great way of learning, and this way combined with an understanding of music theory can dramatically improve your playing and improvising in a much quicker way than just theory alone, or just transcribing alone.

Wtih theory you can take one thing that you transcribe and play it in other keys. Know how to change it around and play it over other chords. Basically multiplying everything that you already know.

No Music Theory Option 2:

(I do not recommend doing this)

The slowest way of improving….Not transcribing solos and simply to use trial and error or “noodling” around, fishing for the right note, not having a clue why anything you play sounds good or bad.

Getting Started:

The Keys:

The Sharp Keys:

C MAJOR – C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C

G MAJOR – G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G

D MAJOR – D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D

A MAJOR – A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A

E MAJOR – E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#, E

B MAJOR – B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A#, B

F# MAJOR – F#, G#, A#, B, C#, D#, E#, F#

C# MAJOR – C#, D#, E#, F#, G#, A#, B#, C#

The Flat Keys

C MAJOR – C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C

F MAJOR – F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F

Bb MAJOR – Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb

Eb MAJOR – Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C, D, Eb

Ab MAJOR – Ab, Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, G, Ab

Db MAJOR – Db, Eb, F, Gb, Ab, Bb, C, Db

Gb MAJOR – Gb, Ab, Bb, Cb, Db, Eb, F, Gb

Cb MAJOR – Cb, Db, Eb, Fb, Gb, Ab, Bb, Cb

To Start Memorizing the Chords and Chord Tones Just Use these simple rules:

1) Chords are built in 3rds – Root, 3rd, 5th. Start with your root, skip a note, then you’ve got your third, skip a note, then you’ve got your fifth.

2) If you do that in a major key you end up with this pattern, harmonizing over each note of the scale: (examples are in the Key of G major)

1. = MAJOR ex. GBD

2. = minor ex. ACE

3. = minor ex. BDF#

4. = MAJOR ex. CEG

5. = MAJOR ex. DF#A

6. = minor ex. EGB

7. = diminished ex. F#AC

* NOTE:

To memorize anything quickly, simply use NOTE CARDS, and make out a set for your Key Signatures, a set for your Chords per Key, and a set for your chord tones per key.

Carry them around with you and when you are waiting in line or just don’t have anything to do. Pull them out and start memorizing them. In a month or so you will see dramatic improvements.