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My experience in learning to play the piano

I got a piano when I was 26 years old. I had longed to play the piano since I was a tiny kid, and my grandmother, whom I adore, had a piano in her house. But she gave it away to my aunt when I was still small, so after I got married, and someone offered a piano to us for $280, we bought it instantly, even though it meant that we had to live off our food storage for a couple of months, and scrimp like crazy.

Paying a teacher was out of the question, so I set out to teach myself the piano. The first thing I did was sit down and memorize a very familiar hymn. I played it over and over again, perhaps several hundreds or thousands of times, until I could play it adequately well. I then played that hymn at church meetings whenever the regular accompanist wasn't around. I couldn't play anything else, but I had one song that I could play passably.

I then set out to learn to read music. I got any music I could find, and just played it once, then went on to something else. My goal being to learn to recognize notes, not to learn a piece by rote memorization as I had the first piece. I did memorize a couple more hymns, so I could play three, and would rotate between them.

There came a point when I had learned to read music pretty well, that I almost couldn't play the hymns I had recognized by rote, because I wanted to read the music rather than play from memory.

I got to the point where I could sight read pretty well, and figured that I was at the end of my musical learning, oh, I might become a little better, but I had essentially learned all there was to know about simple piano playing for my personal enjoyment.

It was at this point that I encountered a thought that forever changed my piano playing life. I had always thought that playing the piano by ear was reserved for a few select pianists that were born with the gift. I suddenly dawned on me, that the way to play the piano by ear, was to play the piano by ear, or in other words, if I wanted to learn to play the piano by ear, I would have to practice at it.

So I started playing jingles from commercials. Before long, I was able to pick out simple tunes of songs that are very familiar to me, and even to add accompaniments. When I started practicing playing by ear, I also realized that my sight reading skills improved dramatically, since rather than reading every note, I was able to put my fingers where they should be according to the feel of the music.

You can learn to play the piano in the same way I did.


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