T Nation

Calling All Musicians

I’ve made the decision that I finally want to learn how to play music. I have no experience whatsoever (but my brother is the finest guitar player I know, if that counts).

I’ve always had a deep desire to learn the piano.

So, where would a guy start? Lessons? Videos? Books?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!


Definitely lessons all the way. You can’t learn all the nuances from a book or video. It’s a touch-oriented instrument and a very sensitive subject.

Definitely some lessons. If you’re going to play guitar, learn those chords and scales like there’s no tomorrow. I would take a formal class if available nearby, and as far as instructional videos go, it’s been a while since I looked at them but back in the day, Doug Marks’ Metal Method was good, and I’ve heard good things about the Mechanics of Metal series.

It’s a touch-oriented instrument and a very sensitive subject…


I fully expect you to insert your own punchline here---->*

“I don’t think there’s a punch-line scheduled, is there?”

~ Vince Lombardi

Fuck lessons.

I taught myself guitar by just playing tunes. I figured the scales out by just listening and playing… actually a couple of my buddies started at the same time so we learned from each other. Learning some classical tunes was the best thing I ever did… Bach and Francisco Tarrega…

I’ve never owned a piano so I never really had the chance to learn. I can jam out a little bit when I have some time to sit down at someone elses.

I say just pick it up and start playing songs. If you don’t want to learn to read music right away… get tablature for the guitar or whatever the easyway is to learn songs on the piano.

Actually I learned by ear for the most part (my first two years of playing), but once I took a formal class (what guitar player wouldn’t love to earn a whole credit hour in college playing the six-string) things came together so much better.

Ryno, if you can truly play classical right by ear-training, I salute you.

Well I didn’t actually learn classical songs by just listening to them… I did use tablature… but I thought it was pretty good for only having played the guitar for about 8 months.

But I guess playing like 12 hours a day and falling asleep in the chair with my guitar across my lap did kind of help me progress a little faster than some other guys I know… but that shit doesn’t do me any good now that I hardly ever even pick it up anymore. I should…

Thanks to everyone for the responses so far.

I talked with my brother about it tonight and he agreed: lessons are the way to go.

The trick though is finding someone in line with my desires (playing tunes I like for my satisfaction). I have a fear of getting some old lady who wants me to master the 5th symphony. :wink:

I’ll keep you all posted. BTW, I am talking about piano here…not that interested in guitar, yet that is.


Start here. I had the same urge you have now a month ago. I can now play passable piano.


That, guy(forgot his name)on PBS has a pretty good How to on Playing piano. Although I played the violin when I was young. 15 years of it;).

First of all, music theroy needs to understood. I know it isn’t needed but it can make your learning experience easier. Although it can be BORING as hell, learning to play sheet music can make things sooooo much easier. Rarely can people learn to play by ear without a lot of time to figure the song out. If you haven’t been playing several instruments since you were five then you probably will have to learn like the rest of us.

Think of it this way. Rather than frustrating yourself by trying to learn the basics by ear, you could go pickup a fake book and be playing in a few minutes. Granted of course you know how to read music. Besides, being able to pick up different kinds of musical styles will be 100 times easier by reading music than by trying to obtain it and learn by yourself. Which in turn will make you a much more well rounded musician. Plus music theroy is universal so if you get tired of the piano and want to switch to a hammer to bust out some kick ass licks the transistion will be MUCH easier.

I’m not saying music theroy is law, my father graduated from Berklee so music has always been a part of my life. But he never forced it on me so I just goofed around until I finally learned music theory. Bam, almost all at once I started to understand how to play and write. You might want to start there.


time to plug my own music -
short rough demo tracks of my new keyboard - Alesis Andromeda - enjoy :slight_smile:



Back to the topic

I’m self taught, I do everything by ear, just practised a lot on the keyboard.

Not that hard, but you gotta want it and love it.

like anything learn the basics first and the rest will fall into place. get a good teacher that will teach what you want to learn (ie classic or punk, obviously it will be the latter). learn a couple of basic songs otherwise its just boring, but learn your theory.
I have been playing guiter since i was 6. i still suk. never had lesson for more than 4 weeks, due to teacher going into re-hab and touring etc…
Still, you dont have to be good to rock out!!!

Whetu: doing things by halves since '86

Hey, would just like to make a few comments as I am a professional musician(read: poor and oft unemployed ;o) and started doing music later than most usually do(started piano at 16).

First off, as far as piano goes, you need to ask yourself what your specific goals are, what sort of thing you really want to play. If playing Mozart or Rachmaninoff is something you’d like to do, then taking lessons is by far the way to go. However, if you’re more interested in contemporary music, you will have to be far more picky when it comes to finding a teacher, if you even go that route.

Many people get discouraged because they want to play more modern music and fail to see how learning a bunch of scales and rinky-dink kids tunes will help them get there. If you can find a teacher that will teach a more modern approach, then by all means give that a try, but you may even have success with something like the guy that comes on PBS sometimes(forget his name now), which is essentially the way I taught myself although he wasn’t around back then.

Remember that with piano, reading the music is by far the most difficult and discouraging part for most people. Physically it is FAR easier than the other instruments–I’ve taught 6-year-olds to do some pretty amazing Liberace-like acrobatics on the ivory! A more contemporary approach would spare you the note reading difficulties and get you to playing real music faster than standard pedagogical approaches. PM me if you have any more questions and I’ll try to be more specific…


PM me about this.

I’ve got a BMus. Ed. Degree and working on a Masters at what is arguably the best music school in the country (Indiana) - so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this for myself as well as others.

In the meantime, get ready to expand your head in terms of physical motions and exertions - unfortunately, effort and physical force are not going to give the biggest returns on most instruments - its more like a balancing act than a deadlift.

Don’t sweat the music theory thing so much right now - you’ll pick it up as you go along, although there is this amazing book on Harmony that goes into mindblowing concepts about every nuance you could ever imagine.


As a person who play both piano and violin (and flirted w/ cello for a bit)…but not as good as I used to be due to the lack of time to devote myself to a lot of practice sigh

If you are serious about learning how to play piano and PLAY WELL, you should get private lessons. It takes YEARS to perfect your techniques-- depending on what you’d like to play, classical taking most time, and many teachers have different teaching methods (just like different strength coaches have different methods). I personally prefer to play classical on my piano and violin, so perhaps where I’m coming from may be different from yours.

My goal is to be able to play good Rachmaninoff if and when I have time to practice and start getting lessons again (and Tchaikovsky Concerto for violin). :slight_smile:

Wow, what a response! Thanks so much to all of you. And I will take you up on the pm’s.

As for reading music, music theory, harmony, etc., I realize it must be done. That’s fine. I would tend to believe though that one should learn this while also learning the instrument.

My goals are simple: play for my own enjoyment. I have no ambitions for concert halls, performance, and the like (assuming I ever even got that good :). In fact, I’d be satisfied only ever learning a good 20-30 of my favorite tunes (Bruce Hornsby, Michael Card, James Taylor, gospel hymns), but really getting these down. That would be incrediibly satisfying.

For starts, I believe I’ll enroll in a non major/minor lesson this Fall at my university. It couldn’t hurt.

Finally, consider that I’m looking at this as a long term project…like 5 years to even be decent. My time will be limited due to school.

Definitely take lessons. You will be able learn the instrument much quicker.

If you do happen to have the talent, you will progress quickly.