Monday, August 29, 2011

Piano Phrases and Vocabulary You Should Know Before Buying a Piano

Investing in a piano is a great idea. They hold their value, add sophistication to a room and enrich the lives of you and your family through music. If you are thinking of buying this beautiful instrument, there are a few terms and phrases you should be familiar with. This is a big purchase, so educate yourself with these piano vocabulary basics:

Vertical or Grand

These are the two types of piano. A vertical, also known as an upright, is the model that sits flush with wall. The grand is the large curvaceous model that is associated with professional pianists. Both have their merits and either is a good choice provided you don't skimp on quality. Both styles come in different sizes to suit anywhere from the tiniest of spaces to largest concert halls. Whether you want a basic or a professional model, either style adds a touch of class and beauty to any room.

The Back

This is the backbone of the instrument and good sturdy quality materials are essential in making a durable instrument. Always inspect the frame and the back before purchasing.


In the finest instruments, spruce is used to create this essential component. It is responsible for the tone produced by the strings as they vibrate against the board. Spruce is used because its fine straight grain is naturally conducive to moving sound.

Action and Hammers

The action of a piano is quite complicated because it involves the concert movement of over 7,000 parts. As the term "action" implies, this is the active workings of the instrument. The chain reaction that happens when the keys are hit, the hammers fall and the strings vibrate. The hammers are covered in felt and may be either 9 or 12 pound hammers. The weight refers to the weight of the felt used.


A piano must be regularly tuned to maintain optimum sound quality. Over time, whether you play a lot or not at all, the strings need to be tightened and adjusted for proper sound. Frequent playing as well as simple aging weakens the strings and throws off the tone and key of the instrument. Humidity also wreaks havoc on the strings so the instrument should be kept in a controlled environment.


There are two pedals, sometimes three, at the base of the instrument, and each one has a specific purpose. One is called the damper pedal and it inhibits the strings from vibrating. When this pedal is depressed, the sound continues after you've played the note. Another of the pedals mutes the sound when the note is played. If there is a third pedal, its purpose is to prolong just the bass notes.

Educating yourself about the piano is the best way to make sure you choose the right one for you as well as aid in your learning and playing abilities. Just knowing these terms and phrases will help you prepare questions for the dealer. Remember this is a big investment so you want to know exactly what you are getting. It also helps you determine what is important to you and what you can live without.

Halls Piano Company, Metairie, is Louisiana's exclusive Steinway dealer thanks to their commitment to excellence in piano sales and service. Visit them at to download a free piano buying guide.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Piano Note Reading for Beginners

Reading piano notes is far easier than many beginning pianists think it is. Ultimately, piano note reading is simply a matter of memorization and repetition. In other words, once you learn the basics, all you have to do is put them into practice, and to do so as many times as it takes to completely internalize your note reading skills.

No doubt, you've seen what's known as the staff -- the system of five lines and four spaces upon which musical notes are organized. In music notation, at the far left of a staff you will always see a clef, which is basically a symbol that indicates how the notes on the staff should be read.

There are many different types of clefs, but fortunately for beginning pianists, the vast majority of piano music deals only with two clefs, the treble clef and the bass clef. The treble clef is usually used to notate the first few octaves to the right of Middle C, while the bass clef is usually used to notate the few octaves to the left of Middle C.

In all staffs, no matter what the clef is, successive lines and spaces represent ascending notes of the scale. For example, in the treble clef, the lowest line represents E. Thus, the space just above the lowest line represents F, the line just above that represents G, the space above that is A, and so on.

In the treble clef, which looks sort of like a backwards "S" with a few extra curly-cues thrown in, and centered on the second line up, the notes are as follows: The five lines, from bottom to top, stand for E G B D and F, while the four spaces stand for F A C and E. All beginning pianists must memorize these very early in the learning process. FACE is an easy acronym to remember, while EGBDF lends itself to a variety of mnemonic phrases, which you can make up yourself. For example, when I took my lessons, I was forced to memorize, "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge."

Often, when reading music, you will see additional "lines" added above or below the staff. These are merely extensions of the staff, and follow the same succession as notes within the staff. For example, the invisible line one space below the treble clef staff -- a note that you will see very, very often -- stands for middle C as it is one space and one line below the E represented by the first line.

The bass clef, which looks like a backwards "C" with two dots around the second line from the top, has this configuration: The five lines stand for G B D F and A, while the four spaces stand for A C E and G. Again, there are many mnemonic devices to remember these, but it's always best to make up your own.

With many piano songs, especially those for beginners, the left hand plays the notes in the bass clef, while the right hand plays the notes in the treble clef. The two areas meet up at middle C, which is two notes below the lowest line in the treble clef staff, and two notes above the highest line in the bass clef staff.

Beyond this basic memorization of notes represented by lines and spaces, piano note reading also involves some knowledge of what is meant by various symbols. Most commonly you will see the symbols for sharp and flat. The symbol for sharp, which closely resembles the number symbol (#), indicates that the note which it accompanies should be raised one half step. Meanwhile, the flat symbol looks like a lower case "b," and indicates that the accompanying note should be played one half step lower. Also, once you start to learn more keys and scales, you will need to know the natural symbol, which cancels a sharp or flat is dictated by the key. Also, it's important to remember that when you see a sharp, flat, or natural symbol, that symbol remains in effect throughout the measure.

From this point on, things become more complicated. But don't sweat it. Learning how to read piano notes is a baby-step process. Try not to learn everything at once. Instead, focus on one thing at a time, and practice until it comes as easily as breathing. As always, this is the key to learning piano.

Duane Shinn is the author of the popular DVD home study course on playing piano titled "Crash Course In Exciting Piano Playing!"

Piano For Beginners - Everything You Need to Know

The piano is a beautiful instrument to play and the good news is almost anyone can learn to play it. If you are capable of pressing down on one of the keys then you are capable of mastering the piano. It is true that some of us are more musically gifted than others but this is no reason why everyone can't learn how to play the piano. As with most things in life, the more time and effort you put into learning the piano, the better your results will be.

It will come as no surprise to you that practice and commitment count for a lot when it comes to learning the piano. But what else do you need to know to learn the piano? Well, you will need a piano without one it will be very difficult to get the practice you will need in order to progress.

It is important to remember that everybody has different learning styles and learns in different ways at different speeds. What works for one person may not work for you, this is why it is important to assess how you learn before you decide how you are going to learn how to play the piano.

There are 3 main options available when you want to know how to play the piano.

Find a good piano instructor, you can find these by going to visit schools, colleges or orchestras in your area. The Internet is also a very useful resource for finding a piano teacher. Bear in mind it is very important you get along well with your prospective teacher. There is nothing worse than dreading your piano lesson simply because you do not see eye to eye with your instructor. A piano instructor will provide you with valuable advice and be able to show you where you are going wrong.

Buy piano books from music shops and use the plethora of online tutorials and materials to help you learn. Be sure the online tutorials are of a good standard. When it comes to learning a musical instrument, bad habits that have been picked up due to improper instruction can be difficult to reverse.

Some people may find they prefer to get acquainted with the piano without the help of books or instructors. It is easier for these people to play the piano by ear and work out the sounds and intricacies of the instrument themselves.

Being able to read sheet music will be very beneficial, understanding the theory of music will surely improve performance. On the other hand, being able to identify notes by ear is also a very useful tool. There are many pros and cons of each method, it is a case of trial and error and a matter of finding out what works best for you. The bottom line is if you are willing to put time into your new hobby and have enough self-motivation you can learn the piano in no time.

Lauren Paltrow of, specializes in helping aspiring pianists get the info that they need to make the right choices. Lauren leads her team of piano experts in constantly reviewing new courses and products in the market to make sure you get the best value products that work for you. Check out actual user reviews of the best piano courses and products at

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Piano tabs

Piano Tabs vs. Guitar Tabs

Piano Tabs are basically the same as guitar tabs. Why is that fact important to you? Simply because most chords/lyrics which are in tab form on the internet are going to be listed as "Guitar Tabs" and not necessarily "Piano Tabs". The chords to a song, the lyrics to a song are the same regardless if a guitarist or a pianist is playing it. So if you're looking for the "tabs" for a song on the internet, you may end up having to look at a guitar tab site rather than a piano tab site. But no big deal here!

One big difference with guitar tabs, which of course is short for "guitar tablature", is that the guitar diagrams are almost always shown and these indicate what fret, string, etc. to play. Just ignore that part. You're only looking to get the lyrics and chords and disregard everything else relating to guitar playing. A student of mine once pleaded with me to explain how to directly translate the guitar notation into piano. Here's the deal though, pianists DO NOT waste time doing that exercise. Maybe it'll be fun for you but practically speaking, it's a waste of time. Guitarists don't typically take a fully written piano arrangement and extract out each note to directly use that to perform on guitar. So conversely, why whould you want to do this for piano? Just chords and lyrics my friends, chords and lyrics!!

By the way, many pianists never use guitar tab books or guitar tab sheets to work up songs. I certainly do! They argue that the melody line is not included there but it is always found in "lead sheets". What I do for a song I'm familiar with, is I have already memorized the melody line, (a relatively simple task) so all I'm missing is the chords and lyrics. Case in point, recently, I bought a fantastic Billy Joel Guitar Tab book. I would assume though that very few keyboard players would consider picking up such a book. My thought though was that the fact that I know these songs so well, just having the chords in front of me would enable me to play the song. Additionally, I could now concentrate on working on my singing without being bogged down on the note for note piano arrangement. When you're on stage, chances are you have memorized everything already, but if you have the guitar/piano tabs in front of you as a "cheat sheet", it enables you to still perform the song with minimal diversion to "looking at the music".

But the most important aspect of this type of "tab" playing is that in my experience, with pop/rock band performance, the best, most efficient information you can have to play any song and learn it quickly are guitar tabs!! That is the Secret Weapon all these garage bands use to work up songs and they're able to do a great job playing these songs, regardless of how much traditional harmonic theory they have been exposed to!

Lesson learned? Go Google or search out your favorite songs and put "tab" after the song, and you're 80% on the way to perfecting that song in its entirety!

There are many sites on the web where you can find Piano Tabs. If you are able to find a good piano tab site or at least accurate tabs for a song you're searching for, you are well on your way to playing that song. The major obstacles to creating that song from tabs are


1. Sites infected with Viruses - Unfortunately, this is a very common problem at tab sites. More often than you'd like, your computer can be infected so make sure your viral protection programs are up and running. If you do not have protection for virus infection, you can get free trail downloads at

2. Wrong chords and/or lyrics -
Many of the tabs listed on the web for your favorite songs have been put together by well intentioned amateurs who either don't double check that all the chords are correct or perhaps are unable to distinguish between a correct chord and an incorrect one.

On a scale of 1-10, there are varying degrees of "wrongness" for any chord. Example, if the correct chord should be G7 and instead the chord is listed simply as G, well that's a minor offense and you could say it's a "9" in terms of accuracy. A common mistake is listing the relative minor for a major chord or visa versa. For this error, we might consider it a 6 or 7 in terms of accuracy. In short, for well regarded substitutions for chords, one can live with that. However, with free piano tabs, you can often see wrong chords listed which are at the opposite end of the spectrum for what the chord should in fact be. The chord might be a B flat minor and the tab says that it's a G sharp major, not even close and completely out there in "left field"! We'd give that infraction a "1" on a scale of 10. Then again, you will definitely see chords that are that far off. Your final judge should be your "ear", engage your inherent musicality- if it sounds wrong or really bad to you, there's a good chance that it is in fact wrong.


For lyrics, again, the same principal applies here - you will see major infractions and minor ones. Just take the posture that the lyrics are "guilty" until proven innocent, i.e., are not 100% accurate until you proof them against either an artist songbook or against a recording.

With No Written Reference for the Lyric: If a song has never been published or perhaps is out of print and one simply can not find a written reference to check the song tabs against, then your guess is as good as anyone's really. In this case, you basically have to check it and proof it against the recording to find out how accurate it is.

Missing Lyrics and/or Chords

Another common phenomenon with free piano tabs or free tabs is that entire whole portions or sections of a song may be eliminated. It can be frustrating when this occurs so just check against the artist songbook if you have one or if one is available or check against other tab sites for that song. Speaking of which, "comparison shopping" can be a good idea with free tab sites, taking a consensus of opinion, using your own musicality as the ultimate judge again and determining which portions of a tab for any song is correct or appealing to you and which ones are not.

To discover the "pro way" to play piano songs using only piano tabs and eliminating the need to read note-for-note sheet music arrangements, be sure to visit
David Seagal is a New York City based pianist and teacher. A musician for over 25 years, he is a piano teacher, songwriter pianist and is the author of "Play Piano Like a Pro" video course. His formative music education was orchestral training on clarinet with Naomi Drucker, Hostra University and the late-great world-renowned Leon Russianoff, Professor of Music Julliard School of Music and Manhattan School of Music. Pop and rock piano and songwriting studies with Frank Doyle, New England Conservatory of Music and "Moogy" Mark Klingman, author of the Bette Midler hit "Friends" and former keyboardist for Todd Rundgren's "Utopia". Classical piano studies with concert pianist Dmitri Alexev.
His piano course is available at

Monday, August 15, 2011

Piano Posture - Don't Try to Play Without It

Many aspects of playing the piano such as note reading and ear training are intuitive. They just make sense. There are, however, important aspects of piano which are not intuitive. In fact they are counter-intuitive to most of us. That's why a good piano teacher is so important.

Students imagine playing in a way that makes sense to them and "feels" comfortable. You can call this your "default" setting, what you do naturally out of habit. Ever try to change a habit? It's difficult. It takes conscious effort over time, because the mind-body connection is un-conscious and powerful. If you're a piano student who wants to improve your playing, the best way to do this is to change your habits so that they reflect your goals. In this way you'll be playing with self awareness, rather than out of habit. And that's a good thing!

Here are some simple steps to begin developing a powerful good piano habit that will go a long way toward helping you reach your goals.

Step 1

To see how you can improve your playing, sit up straight on the edge of the piano bench, with an arch in your lower back, (move the bench way back from the piano for now.) Put the palms of your hands together in front of you. Now separate your hands so that your forearms are parallel, but your palms are still facing each other. Now lift your forearms arms and then drop them, like they are asleep, from the elbow with your palms still facing. If your arms are completely relaxed, they should have fallen so that the tips of your fingers are pointing to the floor and your arms are completely extended, because there is no way to catch the weight of your arms with your elbows when you drop them.

Step 2

To improve your posture, try this again. Only instead of allowing your palms to face each other, turn them flat so your palms are horizontal, facing the floor. Bend your arms a little so that the tips of your elbows are pointing more toward the "walls," and not toward the floor. Now lift your forearms toward the ceiling and then drop them from the elbows again. This time the weight of your forearms should catch in your elbows. Move your piano bench closer to the piano, but not too close (your elbows should be in front of your tummy.) Practice lifting and dropping your arms, catching the weight in your elbows, as you play one note, repeatedly. Lift and drop; lift and drop.

Step 3

Now practice this technique while playing octaves. Do this hands separately. With finger three, bounce from one key to the next, between octaves, lifting and catching the weight of your forearms from the elbows. Bounce and land; bounce and land, lifting your hand high over the keyboard. Now keep practicing this until it feels comfortable. Keep this posture as you play your pieces and remember to hold your hands "flat" with elbows out-turned to add buoyancy, spring and flexibility to your playing.

Now you know a powerful piano habit to dramatically improve your playing and help you your musical dreams - So keep doing it. Soon it will feel so natural you'll wonder why you didn't think of it!

To learn the best way to share the gift of music with children visit for my Piano Bears Musical Stories for Children The exciting Piano Bears Musical Stories for children ages 5 to 11 feature the loveable characters, Mrs. Treble Beary and her new piano student, Albeart Littlebud. Children love following along with Albeart to Mrs. Treble Beary's piano studio in Musical Acres Forest. Here they learn what piano lessons are all about in a fun way that kids readily understand and appreciate! Piano students laugh and giggle while reading "Little Bear's Musical Garden" and "Little Bear's Piano Goals."
For a wealth of f'ree information and piano music online visit Piano Bears Music Education Resources Don't Wait to Share the Gift of Music!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Piano Lesson Games for Kids Make Music Learning Fun

Generally young children who enjoy educational activities such as reading, coloring, crafts and word games also enjoy playing the piano. One reason is because they enjoy doing things with their hands. Did you know that there are games and activities available like this for young children that will give them a musical foundation as well? If you plan to give your young child piano lessons or if your child is taking piano lessons they can benefit greatly from musical games and activities at home. There are many foundational keyboard abilities children can learn at home while having fun that will give them a musical head start in piano. Here's 5 of these.

1. Drawing and Visualizing the Piano Keyboard

2. Learning the musical alphabet in a variety of ways

3. Learning keyboard theory concepts for note reading

4. Learning to use their hands at the piano

5. Visualizing five-finger hand positions and finger numbers

This knowledge is not difficult to give your children at home. All you need are the right resources and of course a keyboard. You'll be giving your child musical values and educational opportunities that will prepare them for a positive future of learning. Piano lessons also help children learn

o key reading and math skills;

o how to set goals to achieve their dreams; and

o the need for self discipline and persistence; and

o how to take responsibility for their success.

So take advantage of the early years and give your child even more of what they love to do with musical learning games and activities they'll enjoy.

To learn the best way to share the gift of music with children visit for my Piano Bears Musical Stories for Children The exciting Piano Bears Musical Stories for children ages 5 to 11 feature the loveable characters, Mrs. Treble Beary and her new piano student, Albeart Littlebud. Children love following along with Albeart to Mrs. Treble Beary's piano studio in Musical Acres Forest. Here they learn what piano lessons are all about in a fun way that kids readily understand and appreciate! Piano students laugh and giggle while reading "Little Bear's Musical Garden" and "Little Bear's Piano Goals."
For a wealth of free information and piano music online visit Piano Bears Music Education Resources Don't Wait to Share the Gift of Music!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Styles of Piano Music

If you are studying the piano, you'll find that there are many different styles of piano music out there today. Usually it is a great idea to learn as many styles as you can if you want to master the piano, and learning all of them is a great idea. When you are knowledgeably about various styles of music for the piano, you are able to play in a variety of styles yourself and it also helps you learn to improvise. Let's take a look at some of the most popular styles out there that you'll want to study and learn to play.

Classical Piano

The oldest style of piano is the classical style and it is very varied as well. This style of piano has been around for hundreds of years and for many, it is the proper style of music to learn when playing the music. Various other styles of piano music actually come from the classical style as well. This style of piano music takes training that is intense and a lot of practice as well.

Rock Piano

Another style of piano music is rock piano. This style of piano actually came right out of blues piano music, although later it would begin to get a new style of it's own. Some great pianists, such as Billy Joel, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elton John would go on to make rock piano the popular and beautiful style that it is today.

Jazz Piano

Another great style of piano music that is well worth studying and learning is jazz piano. It includes a variety of different styles within it and it difficult to describe. A variety of piano styles today actually borrow jazz ideas like certain chords and even improvisation as well. You'll also find that the emphasis on various forms of chords comes from jazz too.

Gospel Piano

You'll find that the gospel piano style of music is very similar to various other styles, such as R&B, blues, and even jazz. There are some extended chords which gospel piano tends to emphasize, but it has that lilting or swinging feel that you often see in both R&B as well as in jazz. While gospel songs may appear to be quite simple, the musicality of them is usually quite complex. You'll notice that syncopation is often used and provides a very spiritual style overtone to the gospel piano music.

Of course these are just a few of the different styles of piano music that are out there today. You'll find that there are many other styles to listen to, learn, and play. Some of them include new age piano, ragtime piano, rhythm and blues piano, boogie woogie piano, and even cocktail piano.

Kevin Sinclair is the publisher and editor of - an information site for beginning through to advanced musicians. He has a growing number of learn piano reviews available.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Why is the Piano So Popular?

The musical world has many different genres, but the vast majority have accepted piano as a form of musical expression. Each style, whether it be jazz, country, classical, rock, or pop, have included piano into their musical styles which has made the piano a highly popular instrument. The tone and variety offered by pianos, especially with modern keyboards, has allowed for a highly diversified instrument that all musicians can enjoy.

The piano also allows for harmonious playing of several chords, which allows for easier musical composition and an ability to express a song in a wider breadth. This simply cannot be done with other musical instruments that can only play one note at a time. The piano only requires the use of your fingers and occasionally your foot so it is an instrument that allows continuous playing without becoming tired. As a result, it takes a lot longer to tire out from using the piano than say blowing into a trumpet. The ability to compose music easily on the piano has created a lasting legacy of great pianists which include those famous classical pianists to the modern day piano man by Billy Joel.

The piano allows for great flexibility in learning styles and caters to all levels of ability. It's neat to consider that a first year student and Beethoven could use the same instrument, but make such different sounds. This also brings the point that the piano allows for a great expression of oneself and playing the piano allows for one to release their emotions. Although the piano is quite popular it is not for everyone. Give it a shot, but if you truly don't enjoy playing try a different instrument that more adequately serves your personality and music playing style. Make your piano playing experience fun and you will reap the rewards!

For more interesting piano articles and free piano sheet music visit

Friday, August 5, 2011

Piano Lessons - Games to Keep it Fun While You Learn

My wife is a piano teacher and has been for quite some time. Her students are mostly children, though some of them are much older (such as myself), so she tries to make learning to play the piano as fun as possible. Her main focus is trying to incorporate into her piano lessons games that will keep her students in practice and still keep them excited.

Learning the piano isn't like it used to be in the old days. To be honest, the idea of sitting in a room with nothing but a metronome, a song book, and a piano sounds terribly boring. But with the computer age in full swing there are more and more "piano lessons" games and software packages offering ways to improve your skills while keeping you entertained and having fun.

My favorite games, and the ones we share with our students right from the start, are the ones where you can try and beat your own high-score. I've never been a big fan of competition; it becomes too easy to give up because someone else is consistently doing better than you, but trying to beat my own best record really got me practicing. Nothing pushes a student to keep going like beating their old score and knowing that they can beat the new one too with just a little more playing.

There are two games that I call my favorites.

  • Jayde Musica Pro - This game is awesome for those of us who think reading music is complicated and boring. When talking about piano lessons, games like this just make it too easy. Notes fly across the screen and you do your best to identify them. The more you identify the higher your score (and within no time you know ALL the notes like the back of your hand!)
  • Chordinator - A multiple choice game that leads you along through the complicated mess of Chord notation. This game is great and, once again, lets your beat your own personal best.

I used to have some serious problems reading sheet music and it seemed that no matter how often my wife would remind me of what meant what, I still couldn't seem to remember it. The problem was that I spent too much time beating myself up for not understanding and that took all the fun out of it for me. The above games really fixed that.

Of course, now that I can read the sheet music all I really have to do is work on my timing. I looked all around the internet for a "metronome trainer" or something like it and finally found it in an online course called Rocket Piano. I was surprised to find that Rocket Piano offered Jayde Musica Pro and Chordinator. I told my wife about it right away and now we recommend the Rocket Piano course to all of our students so that they can practice at home. They've all said the same's so much fun! These piano lessons games are the absolute best, whether you're a student or even a teacher.

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