What songs do you like ?`
If you are going to pursue piano playing as a hobby, you need to start by asking yourself “What songs do I like?”. Some people have never stopped to think about the answer to that question. When you think back on those days when you used to do piano lessons, it is likely that you remember practicing many scales and broken chords. It addition you might have done some sight reading, in which your tutor showed you a music sheet that you were seeing for the first time and asked you to play the music. You probably got some songs to play, and after being instructed on the timing and the correct notes you went home and practiced in preparation for the next class.
Music lessons teach you the techniques , first simple steps right up to the advanced stages. You learn how to:
- Read from the music sheet
- Relate the notes on the staff to the notes on the keyboard
- Identify the count of each note and play at the right time
- Coordinate left and right hand
- Learn fingering, where you use your ten fingers to carry you across the whole piano, up to 88 notes.
Now you are ready to take up piano playing again. You might not be preparing for music exams as you did at your school age, and your reason to playing is likely to be different. You want to learn to play and practice the type of songs you like.
Where do you start?
Good question. The answer depends on how far advanced you did lessons and how much of those skills you still possess. You could have been an advanced piano student, but after several years of no interaction with the instrument you wonder where to pick up.
As an adult you might want to revise the chords, practice the following simple scales reminding yourself of the key signatures such as
C major ——
G major F sharp
D major F sharp and C sharp
A major F , C and G sharps
F major B flat
…………and so on
You would then revise the related chords, where you play the first, third and fifth simultaneously. Later you could learn about chords that have more than the basic three notes.
Is this enough to play all the songs you like ?
Not likely……or should I say it depends on which songs you like and how you want to express them:
- If you want to play the whole song including the melody, as in a piano solo , you will be playing the melody and the accompaniment or
- If you wish to play the chords and sing the melody, which is an easier option because you would not have to learn to play the melody.
Name some easy songs
I could never claim to know what are your our favorites, but let us look at a variety of well known songs :
Good old HAPPY BIRTHDAY counting with three beats in an bar. Everyone needs to learn to play this song . This has, basically, 3 chords, which means you can strike the chord of F major and your whole family can sing Happy Birthday while you strike the chords on the first count of each bar.
Lively up yourself by Bob Marley has only two chords D and G
Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles has two chords C and Em
House of the Rising Sun has Am, C, D , F and E
Leaving on a Jet Plane by Peter, Paul and Mary, can be played with G, C and D
Three little birds by Marley uses A, E and D
Stay with me by Sam Smith can be played using Am, F and C
Amazing Grace a gospel hymn can be played in the key of G using G, C, D as the main chords
…………and many others
A few chords for the whole song ?
Yes. Some of your favourite songs are played with as little as two chords.This means that the main things you would need to learn are:
- what are the notes in each chord
- which of the chords you would play at a given place in the song
- where, exactly would each chord be played
- how do you move from one chord to the next
Are the songs you love, easy to play?
The only answer to this would be to write down a list of songs that would make you pleased with yourself if you could playthem. You can then do some research to find out how many changes are needed throughout the song. If you intend to revive your piano skills and make it a hobby, it would be best to start with a song with very few chords and work your way up to the more advanced.
Look at the short list above. Do you identify any of them that you would love to play?
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