The Complete Idiot's Guide to Playing Piano: 3rd Edition


A guide that hits all the right notes—now with a CD!

From reading music and learning chords, to understanding music notation or buying an instrument, an expert author tells aspiring pianists how to get started. Learn posture, positioning, fingering, notations, and drills, with advice from a master. And this new edition features an introduction to music notation, explains how to use the pedals, and offers strategies for mastering major and minor scales. It also comes with a CD ...

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A guide that hits all the right notes—now with a CD!

From reading music and learning chords, to understanding music notation or buying an instrument, an expert author tells aspiring pianists how to get started. Learn posture, positioning, fingering, notations, and drills, with advice from a master. And this new edition features an introduction to music notation, explains how to use the pedals, and offers strategies for mastering major and minor scales. It also comes with a CD with all the music in the book so you can listen and learn.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592575640
  • Publisher: Alpha Books
  • Publication date: 10/3/2006
  • Series: Complete Idiot's Guide Series
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 714,879
  • Product dimensions: 8.44 (w) x 10.82 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Brad Hill is a seasoned pianist, teacher, and writer. He has written dozens of books on keyboard playing, MIDI, and music, and has recorded several albums of original keyboard music. He has appeared extensively on radio and television, and has been interviewed for dozens of publications such as the New York Times, Billboard, and Christian Science Monitor.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Meeting Your Instrument 1
1 Why Play the Piano? 3
Soothing the Soul 3
Creativity and Other Mysteries 5
The Uniqueness of All Keyboard Instruments 6
The Great Teacher 7
Following the Footsteps of Immortality 7
2 Hammers and Strings 9
Like a Harp, But Different 10
Parts of the Piano 12
Keys to the Piano 12
Hammering Home the Sound 13
V-V-Vibrating Strings 14
The All-Important Soundboard 14
The Solution to Bored Feet 14
Grand and Less Than Grand 15
Whopping Big (and Heavy) Keyboard 16
3 The Keyboard in Black and White 17
Key to the Keys 17
Higher and Lower 18
Stretching Across the Octaves 20
Black and White Keys 20
4 Sitting on the Bench 23
A Hundred Ways to Make a Piano Stool 23
Posture Has a Bearing 24
Where to Sit 24
Playing Footsie with the Pedals 25
Placing a Home Keyboard 26
Part 2 Give Yourself Another Hand 29
5 Learning the Right-Hand Notes 31
Knowing the Letters 31
Finding C on the Keyboard 32
Lines and Spaces 33
The Staff 33
Clefs 34
The Notes 34
Expression Marks 36
Finding Middle C When Reading Music 36
Finding Other Notes 37
Making Music 40
6 Sharps, Flats, and Fingerings 43
Accidentals Are No Accident 43
Whole and Half Steps Revisited 44
Pinching 'em Upward 44
Pushing 'em Downward 45
Sharps and Flats in Written Music 47
The Black Sheep of Accidentals 48
Using the Right Fingers 49
Making Music 50
7 Whole Notes and Their Offspring 53
Counting in Music 53
Note Values 54
Wholes, Halves, and Quarters 55
Making Music 60
Dividing the Quarter 61
Dotted Notes 63
Making Music 64
8 Bars, Time Signatures, and Rests 67
Organizing the Music Staff 67
Where's the Bar? 68
Sign of the Times 69
Taking a Rest 71
Making Music 72
9 Unlocking Keys and Scales 75
What Keys Do 75
Climbing a Hill of Scales 77
Major and Minor Scales 78
Scales and Key Signatures 80
Key Signatures in Written Music 81
A Natural Thing 82
A Little Less Major 84
Close Relations 85
Scales a la Mode 86
Part 3 Give Yourself Another Hand 89
10 Learning the Left-Hand Notes 91
Middle C for the Left Hand 91
Left-Hand Notes on the Staff 94
Time and Key Signatures in the Bass Clef 98
Making Music 99
11 Putting One and One Together 101
Starting Simple 101
Practice Tips for Two-Handed Playing 104
Making Music 105
12 Basics of Accompaniment 109
What Is Accompaniment? 109
Left-Hand Playing Styles 110
The Simplest Accompaniment 111
Chords 112
Striding Along 114
Using Keyboard Auto-Accompaniments 114
Making Music 117
13 Striking a Familiar Chord 123
A Basic Chord Explanation 123
Triads and Intervals 126
Learning the Basic Triad 126
Intervals of the C-Major Scale 127
Intervals in Other Keys 127
Different Types of Intervals 128
Finding Intervals by Using Half Steps 130
Major and Minor Triads 131
The Common Chords 133
Part 4 Master Class 137
14 Details of Music Notation 139
Note Groupings and Ties 139
Roadrunner Notes 140
Tying Notes Together 143
Triplets 144
Play It Again 146
Expression Markings 148
Dynamic Markings 148
Pass the Dictionary 150
Miscellaneous Expression Markings 150
Slurs (But Not Insults) 150
Legato and Staccato 151
Making Music 152
15 Pedals: Where's the Clutch? 157
Plugging in the Pedal 158
Trying Out the Pedal 158
Pedal Technique 159
Using the Piano's Other Pedals 164
Making Music 164
16 Faking It 167
How Music Charts Work 167
Fakery Tips to Remember 170
Making Music 171
17 The Rigors and Joys of the Classics 175
How Classical Music Works 175
Adhering to the Letter and Spirit 175
Even the Masters Wrote Easy Music 177
Begin With the Baroque 177
Classic Classics 182
Virtuosity Emerges 184
The Impressionists 187
Jazz-America's Music 189
18 Power Practicing 191
The Goal of Practicing 191
Knowing How Much to Practice 193
Take Apart the Parts 193
Slow, Slower, Slowest 194
Making Things Harder 195
No Strain, Big Gain 196
Facing the Music 199
19 Technical Tips 201
Getting Relaxed 201
Mastering Octaves 202
Speed and Power 203
Repeating Notes and Chords 204
Out of Thin Air 205
Sight-Reading Tips 206
Committing It to Memory 207
Ornaments and Flourishes 208
Trills 208
Glissandos 208
Arpeggios 209
20 Next Steps 211
Keeping It Interesting 211
Finding a Teacher 212
MIDI and Home Music Studios 214
The Many Types of MIDI Keyboards 215
MIDI Recorders 216
Tone Modules 217
Drum Machines 218
Hooking It All Up 219
Listen to the Music 219
Jazz Pianists 219
Classical Pianists 220
Part 5 Bringing It Home: Buying an Instrument 223
21 Buying a Piano 225
Why Buy a Piano? 225
The Real Piano Sound 226
The Mechanical Piano Action 226
Appearance 227
Educational Value 227
The Big Questions 228
Upright or Grand? 228
New or Used? 231
The Asian Connection 233
22 Piano Maintenance and Repair 235
Why Upkeep Is Important 236
Where Should We Put This Thing? 236
Pampering Your Piano 237
The All-Important Tuner 237
Regulating, Adjusting, and Tinkering 238
Understanding New and Used Warranties 239
23 Buying a Digital Keyboard 241
A Trio of Keyboards 242
Basic Keyboard Features 243
What Does This Button Do?--Oops! 243
A Sound Is a Sound by Any Other Name 244
Tiny People Inside the Keyboard 244
Immortal Music Deserves to Be Recorded 245
Oh Joy! A Stick! 246
Where to Shop 247
New or Used? 248
Portable or Not-So-Portable 249
Shopping for a Digital Piano 249
Shopping for a Home Keyboard 252
Making Sense of the Bells and Whistles 252
Taking It Home and Turning It On 254
A Glossary 257
B Resources for the Beginning Pianist 263
Index 263
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  • Posted April 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    If you are new to the piano, then this is the book for you.

    My daughter is starting piano lessons next month and I didn't want to be in the dark about what she is learning. I never learned how to read music myself so I truly am a beginner. I felt the pace of the book was perfect. The writing is very funny and it made my want to continue each lesson. Plus this book comes with a CD, which comes in handy if you are not sure if you are playing the keys right. It's a great start to learning the basics about playing the piano. You are not going to be able to write a symphony when you're done but you will be able to play twinkle twinkle little star by the fourth chapter.

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