Here there be dragons...

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My DIY approach to learning piano

So still super-enjoying my pianoing (side note - autocorrect *really* doesn't like it when you make up words ;).  I'm at 2.5 months now.  I have average to low sense of rhythm and short stubby fingers.  lol not exactly set up for success, but enjoying it.  I'm currently averaging about an hour a day, six days a week, and it usually feels like about 10 minutes.  This post is all about the approach I'm taking to learning - so if that's not of interest (fair game!) there's a whole internet waiting for you :) 

Still lacking an actual teacher, but have two YouTube people I'm paying a lot of attention to - does that count?   lol and both have videos about risks/things to watch out for if you're learning without a teacher.  Both call out, repeatedly about technique and using the right fingers.   One of the things I *really* like about the app I'm using is that it shows fingers playing every note -- so you can see which figures you should use at any time.   While most (if not all) the apps will show the keys on the keyboard, this is the only one I know of that shows somebody playing.   I've started paying a lot of attention to it and it's definitely making a noticeable difference.   Also *ridiculously* hard to change for something I've been doing less than 3 days, so I see why it's identified as Really Important to get right.

If you take too long (like pausing to take a pic),
the orange instructions show up :)

The other thing the app really helps with is speed/rhythm.   I have sheet music for several songs I'd like to learn, but they're not the focus yet because trying to align to a metronome is an extra challenge I don't need yet.   In the app, it can play in "wait" mode - where it doesn't move till you hit the right note, or at 50%, 75%, or 100% - if you're hitting the notes when they say to, your rhythm is correct.   Super win.   Today was the first time I learned a scale that didn't have a lesson for it in the course -- I was surprised at how much extra effort it took; even though I did the exact same exercises as in the ap.  Definitely made me appreciate it.

Anyways - for the curious, here's what I'm using to learn for now:

YouTube Teachers:

  • Zach Evans -- I *really* enjoy his videos, which is slightly surprising since they contain over the top enthusiasm and positivity which are not usually my thing ;).  They also have a bit of a used-car salesman feel to them, so again not usually my thing.   But somehow they work for me.  I also love that he includes training around current adult learning principles.   And I have to give a lot of credit in that he (or his social media people) actually took the time to answer an email I sent with random beginner questions, so that counts for a lot.
  • Jazer Lee -- much calmer and more organized approach 😂.  Not that that's hard to do.   I use these videos less for how to play and more for what to practice and why.  Lots of stuff on what songs are good for beginners and what technical skills those songs teach.


  • Flowkey -- This is my primary learning.  Lots of songs I'm interested in, most offered at a variety of levels - but mostly overstated.  Beginner (this is me!), Intermediate (to put in perspective, this is *almost* me and will be within a couple months I expect; I'm learning one song at this level now), Advanced (to me "advanced" would be anyone who took a couple years of lessons as a kid after a week of review), and Pro (which I suspect, is anyone who actually *wanted* to take lessons as a kid and put some actual effort into them ;).     lol I could be way off, we'll see when I get to those other levels.  But that's my guess.   

It also has lessons and some basic music theory; I find the lessons frustrating once you get into them because they don't have the same features as the song practice and I'm not good enough to learn the songs quickly enough to pass the levels.   They need a practice mode.   Otherwise though, they're decent.

There are LOTS of other similar apps, but most of them are more gamified (think music hero), so you're not learning to read music, just hitting the falling dots on the screen.  Since someday I'd like to be able to play music NOT in the app, that didn't appeal to me.   Although I did wish this one had more stats and a few other options (like to stop playing if I mess up too much - which I found one app that does, but I didn't like any of the music choices, so that was a loss)

  • Piano Notes -- This is just to learn to read music.  Has a few different modes, but is essentially flashcards.   I haven't used this recently and really should since I'm a long way from fluent, esp in bass clef.

  • Piano Sight Reading -- I mean, as the name suggests, this is to improve sight reading.  But for one who isn't music literate to begin with, it's great for teaching the basics of reading music, understanding patterns and nuances, etc.  It uses UK terms though, which I don't know at all, so that's mildly frustrating but I figure will be helpful overall.  It's more of a testing than a teaching tool but I'm learning through the test questions ;)
  • Accelerated Piano Adventures -- there are a ton of these, I'm working through the Theory, Technique, and Lesson books.   I'm about 3/4 of the way through the first level.   I don't love these, but I figure they're prob useful so I try to do about a unit / week.  These guys have a reasonable online community as well.

So that's about it.  If the world ever opens up again, I'll plausibly look into actual lessons, but that's not something I want to do virtually and I'm having fun on my own so all good :) 


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