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Returning to piano playing - advice please!


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#1 helen_flute

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 17:47

As you'll be able to see from my signature, it's been a while since I've played the piano, but I've had a hankering to start tinkling the ivories again, and my other half has promised to help me buy an instrument. I'm keen to pick people's brains on two topics, so I'd be grateful for any advice anyone can offer on either question.

 

Firstly, I'm planning to buy a digital piano, budget (including stand/stool/headphones) of probably around £500 - £600. What would people recommend and what should I be looking for? I see Yamaha and Roland brands recommended most often. I don't anticipate ever doing more than pottering about, I was never terribly good at the piano (flute was my main instrument, and remains so) and I'm not planning to take lessons/exams, but I'd like something as close to an acoustic as possible. Space/noise/budget mean an acoustic definitely isn't an option, by the way.

 

Secondly, are there any tutor books aimed at adult beginers or returners to playing? I suspect my parents still have a pile of music at home from when I was a teenager that I will no longer be able to play, so I'm going to need something to brush up my skills, but I'd quite like something that's not aimed at young children.

 

There's a part of me that hopes piano playing is like riding a bike, and I'll miraculously turn out to have somehow not forgotten how to play, but I somehow doubt it. If only I hadn't let my skills lapse over the last 30-odd years!

 

 

 


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#2 Latin pianist

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 17:56

The adult Piano Adventures series is very good. I like both the Popular and Classic ones which each have 2 volumes. You could use the lesson book but I think the others are more enjoyable.
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#3 helen_flute

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 18:17

Thank you for responding so quickly. I've had a quick look and they look ideal, especially the Popular and Classics ones, which look good as I don't need to learn to read music etc.

 

It is nice to see that adult beginers are being catered for. I had visions of having to use material designed for small children, which wasn't filling me with enthusiasm.


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#4 thara96

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 18:18

I love the UpGrade piano series! 

 

If you are not doing exams, I recommend the first book of the series aimed at complete beginners https://www.bookdepo...d/9780571517374


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#5 maggiemay

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 18:39

Another vote for Piano Adventures.  The books are generally well thought through.

 

You might also look at Carol Barrett’s Classic Piano Course. 

 

(I’m not sure any of the Upgrade books are aimed at complete beginners - they simply start at pre-grade one).


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#6 vron

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 21:03

I liked the Carol Barretts books when I first started and as you are not having to learn to read music etc they won't move too fast for you as some have said in the past
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#7 helen_flute

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 21:23

Brilliant, it looks like there are quite a few options for me to check out.
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#8 ejw21

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Posted 12 December 2019 - 15:42

If the search function on the forum is working, there are plenty of posts on here about digital pianos which would be worth your perusal. It's important to try before you buy (even if you then choose to buy online) - even though digital pianos are more like computers, there are still a fair few differences between brands that will be subjective and you'll need to try them out to see what you prefer.

 

Lots of good suggestions for books as well.

 

Happy playing!


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#9 Saxwarbler

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Posted 13 December 2019 - 15:39

Firstly, I'm planning to buy a digital piano, budget (including stand/stool/headphones) of probably around £500 - £600. What would people recommend and what should I be looking for? I see Yamaha and Roland brands recommended most often. I don't anticipate ever doing more than pottering about, I was never terribly good at the piano (flute was my main instrument, and remains so) and I'm not planning to take lessons/exams, but I'd like something as close to an acoustic as possible. Space/noise/budget mean an acoustic definitely isn't an option, by the way.

This was me three years ago, perhaps the only difference being that lessons were always part of the equation. I bought myself a Yamaha P45 because the only space was in my upstairs room. Small, 1970s semi, neighbours, cost etc. etc. meant an acoustic was out of the question. The plan was (still is) to upgrade to something like a Clavinova when I've reached around grade 5. Be warned, however. This is my story ...

OH is a buyer and seller of stuff - antiques, collectables and such - and he bought a £25 piano at auction planning to sell it on. Well, I went to the unit to see/play it. It was out of tune, half the keys not returning but the ones that did play just sounded and felt gorgeous. Plus the piano itself was beautiful.

It never was sold. We had it delivered home and had to remove a 1970s fire surround to make space for it in the lounge. We've had to redecorate that wall and install a new stove fire and mantlepiece, but I have to admit, the room does look better now. As for the piano itself, our friendly piano tuner (known him for years) has been to look at it and says it 'has potential'. He's recommended it sits in the room for six months until around January/February in order to 'settle' and we have to 'tinkle' it every day, however bad it sounds. Not sure what make it is. Tuner reckons it's German, built around 1900+/- 10 years. It's very Bluthner-like in appearance but hasn't yet shown the 'magic mark' that denotes it as such. I call it a 'Notta Bluthner'.

I'm still holding out for the Clavinova upgrade in a couple of years, but I suspect some of the money may be be diverted into this project.

And back to your requests for music suggestions, I taught myself for a while with the Carol Barrett book. Very enjoyable, very manageable for this beginner without it going overboard on the basic theory.
 


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#10 helen_flute

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Posted 14 December 2019 - 09:05

Thank you, Saxwarbler, that’s extremely helpful. I’ve been looking at the P45 so it’s very useful to hear that you’ve been happy with it.

Your £25 project piano sounds wonderful though! I do theoretically have the option of having the piano that I learned on as a child, which was, in turn, my mum’s piano as a child. It’s horrribly out of tune, not having been touched for 30 years, and was never a very good piano in the first place. We don’t have the room for it here, so it will stay in my parents’ house, acting as a bookshelf/repository for junk in their sunroom.
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#11 Saxwarbler

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Posted 15 December 2019 - 13:04

Thank you, Saxwarbler, that’s extremely helpful. I’ve been looking at the P45 so it’s very useful to hear that you’ve been happy with it.

It has a nice tone and feel, but on the down side, it has quite low ampage speakers, so I run it through an amplifier setup because I need to improve my confidence in playing louder. Also, although it has an external (plug in) sustain pedal, it's a very basic, square-shaped one, so I've upgraded it to a 'proper' one, which cost me around £50. In addition, it will only support one pedal at a time. If, as a returner, you advance quickly, then you may find yourself needing a second or even third pedal fairly soon.

If you find yourself needing more than the P45, then you may want to look at a model or two higher up (I believe the P115 is also good) for just a little more.
 


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#12 vron

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Posted 15 December 2019 - 15:43

I like the Yamaha Arius series
eg

https://www.gear4mus...kage-Black/2TWN

which includes the stool and headphones in its package. if new is too dear then have a look for a second hand one locally to you where you can try it out.
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#13 helen_flute

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Posted 15 December 2019 - 17:09

 

Thank you, Saxwarbler, that’s extremely helpful. I’ve been looking at the P45 so it’s very useful to hear that you’ve been happy with it.

It has a nice tone and feel, but on the down side, it has quite low ampage speakers, so I run it through an amplifier setup because I need to improve my confidence in playing louder. Also, although it has an external (plug in) sustain pedal, it's a very basic, square-shaped one, so I've upgraded it to a 'proper' one, which cost me around £50. In addition, it will only support one pedal at a time. If, as a returner, you advance quickly, then you may find yourself needing a second or even third pedal fairly soon.

If you find yourself needing more than the P45, then you may want to look at a model or two higher up (I believe the P115 is also good) for just a little more.
 

 

I like your confidence, but I suspect I'll not be making too much progress any time soon. Piano was never my strength, and it wasn't until I discovered the flute that I found my musical niche. I may surprise myself, but I suspect I'll just be pottering around and will be happy with that, so I'm not sure I'll be needing anything too much more than the P45.

 

That said, vron, the Arius looks very nice, if a little over budget. I will have a look at the local second hand market though. I do like a bargain, and maybe I'll discover some previously undiscovered skills!


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#14 agricola

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Posted 16 December 2019 - 10:18

There's a part of me that hopes piano playing is like riding a bike, and I'll miraculously turn out to have somehow not forgotten how to play, but I somehow doubt it. If only I hadn't let my skills lapse over the last 30-odd years!

 

I have taught quite a few adult 'returners' as well as those starting from scratch and I would say that however rusty you are some of the old brain wiring will have persisted although it might take a while to re-surface!


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#15 helen_flute

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Posted 16 December 2019 - 21:02

That’s encouraging! This evening, I fished out the only book of piano music I still have, some easy Christmas carols, and suddenly the idea of doing different things with left and right hands seemed very alien. I’m so used to playing a single line of music. On the plus side, the right hand part definitely seemed playable.
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