On this page you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about learning and playing piano as well as Color Score itself.  If you don’t find what you’re looking for, please send me an email question at:  askgreg@learncolorpiano.com.

You’ll not only get an answer, but I’ll also post it on this page so other aspiring piano and keyboard players will be enlightened as well.

You can scroll through this FAQ or you can also use the search to find what you’re looking for quickly.



  • 1.Complete Beginner Questions
    This category consist of Q & A for the complete beginning piano students. It is all about basic music theory as it relates to making music on the piano and keyboard.
  • Is is possible for me to learn the piano without traditional lessons?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    Absolutely Yes.  You'll find that some of the most successful musicians regardless of what instrument they play have learned not only on their own but without going through the traditional process of learning.

  • Am I too old to learn how to play the piano?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    No.  Regardless of what anyone thinks about age, learning how to play the piano is rewarding, fun and has so many positive benefits.  We have had so many senior citizens who have always wanted to learn how to play the piano and they made a decision that they were not going to let anything stop them; including their age.

  • I had piano lessons as a child. Is it going to be difficult for me to get started learning again?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    No.  I myself was a former piano student as a child.  I started taking lessons again as an adult.  One of the interesting things I noticed was that some of the fundamental things I learned as a child, stayed with me and actually helped me get started learning again.

  • I see there's a lot of websites that claim to teach you how to play the piano by ear. Is this possible?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    This is actually a yes and no answer.  Playing the piano involves not just the ear to hear, but the hands to play.  Some piano students have a natural aptitude when comes to hearing music and be able to recognize that music on the keyboard.  But your hands still have to have that ability to play the right notes with the right rhythm.  A majority of piano students need visual information to communicate what notes to play, because even though most of us can sing or hum a tune, it still takes the skill with your hands in order to play the instrument.   You must learn that skill first before your ear can be an asset to your piano playing.

  • Do I need an actual instructor to learn to play the piano?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    No.  Many piano and keyboard students have achieved the highest levels of skill through self instruction with the help of resources and coaching support.

  • What' the difference in playing on a keyboard and an actual piano?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    Keyboards are often portable and have unweighted keys that are less in number, unlike a piano which have 88 weighted keys and pedals for dynamics.  The feel of playing the two are quite different but can be adapted to if you wish to learn to play on both.

  • How long should I practice on my piano every day?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    As a beginner, a general rule has always been a 30 minute practice session.  As you advance in skill and learn more concepts and pieces of music, that study session can usually grow into an hour or more.  But the key to studying and learning effectively is to break those study sessions up into smaller increments.  For example a hours' session could be four 15 minutes sessions a day or two hours could be broken up into four 30 minute sessions.  This is called spaced repetition and it allows your brain to rest and not become overloaded.  That rest allows you to be refreshed with each study session.  Oh... and just my opinion:  Practice is a bad word.  😛

     

  • Is there a such thing as practicing piano too much?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    Yes.  Unfortunately some students can be too eager or impatient or it could just be a simple desire to learn a piece of music in too short of a time span.  The brain needs to rest and come back to a study session refreshed.

  • Do I have to learn a lot of traditonal music theory before I can play real music?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    No.  The piano has always been tied to the classical repertoire and traditional music theory has always been centered around it.  If your desire is to learn to play popular music, you need to learn a different kind of music theory that is centered on it.

  • Do I have to do a lot of music exercices every day before I can play real music?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    No.  Learning to play popular music is not about doing a lot of exercises.  It's about learning and playing songs.

  • I have a piano to play on but it's out of tune. Will this hurt my learning?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    No.  You want to study on an instrument that is tuned properly but it won't hurt your piano learning if your piano is out of tune.  As soon as you spend some time playing on an instrument that is in tune, you'll have a big desire to have your own instrument tuned.

  • My hands are small. Do you have to have large hands in order to learn to play the piano?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    No.  Your hands are just a tool that allow you to play the piano.  Everyone has physical advantages and disadvantages so don't let this issue affect you.

  • I have a keyboard instead of a piano. Is it necessary for me to buy an actual piano before I get started learnng?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    No.  The most important thing is to get started.  As you learn, improve your playing skills and likely play on other keyboard instruments that are not your own, you'll eventually develop your own preferences and want to upgrade to other keyboard instruments.  That may or may not be an actual piano.

  • How long will it take me to learn how to play the piano?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    That will absolutely depend upon whether or not you've have previous piano studies, your natural ability, or the actual time you study at the keyboard.  Many beginning piano students focus on learning to play as fast as possible but a much more productive attitude is to enjoy the learning process.  Having said that, a beginner can learn to play a song in just a few weeks. But thankfully, learning how to play the piano is a lifelong endeavor that never ends which you can always enjoy making it to the next level up.

  • I have arthritis but I still want to learn how to play. Will this condition keep me from learning how to play the piano?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    As I understand it, there's varying degrees of arthritis that make it uncomfortable to perform certain physical tasks.  By the experience of many piano players I've known, the answer would be not necessarily.  But if you have a chronic condition that's beyond normal for a person your age, you should consult your physician.

  • I already play guitar but I want to learn the piano as well. Will my guitar skills help me on the piano?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    Yes.  Even though one has a keyboard and the other has a fretboard, there's still the similarities of music itself that make it easier for a guitar player to make the jump to the piano.

  • Do I have to know how to read music in order to learn how to play the piano?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    No.  For playing popular piano the concept of chords is a far easier and faster way to learn.  This is good news for most aspiring piano players because a dislike for reading music is the number one reason why so many students quit in the first place.

  • I'm a student still in school. How does learning how to play the piano help with my academic studies?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    Yes.  Numerous studies have shown that learning not only the piano but any musical instrument increases brain power and intelligence.

  • I'm a senior citizen. How does learning how to play the piano help me with me with my mental health?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    Yes.  Just as music helps students in school, learning how to play the piano increases brain power and intelligence for older adults.

  • When is the best time for me to start learning how to play music the piano? I'm a senior citizen. Is there a such thing as being too old to start learning how to play the piano?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    The best time to start learning how to play the piano is now.  If you're a senior citizen, get started now.  There's great satisfaction and rewards for those that are willing to dive in and not wait another day.  Age is only an excuse that will keep you from the fun and excitement from playing the piano.

  • My family isn't supportive of me taking piano lessons. How can I convince them that I really want to learn how to play.
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    Friends and family can be un-supportive of any endeavor for a host of reasons.  If you have a history of not following through with other things, that will tend to shape their attitude when show interest in something new.  This can also happen when they feel you're getting involved in something that's not important to them.  Either way, discuss why you want to learn and be consistent about asserting how much you value learning to play the piano.  If you do, they'll understand and when they see your consistent effort, they'll start being supportive.

  • I've heard that you have to start taking piano lessons as a small child if you really want to learn to play properly. Is this true?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    No.  In many cases adults are in a better position to learn because they're choosing to learn to play the piano on their own as opposed to a child being forced to learn.  As an adult, you know what your musical goals are and why.

  • What are the non-musical benefits to learning how to play the piano?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    The non-musical benefits of learning to play the piano are increased brain power and mental faculties, increased social interaction/skills and increased income in some cases just to name a few.

  • I want to play for weddings and other events. What do I need to learn to help me achieve this goal?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    Learn the fundamentals of playing piano with chords.  Most wedding music consist of popular songs and even some well known classical pieces.  Compile a list of some of the most popular wedding music and get fake books that feature wedding songs.  Start learning to play these songs by memory.  Locate and talk to experienced pianists that play at weddings as well as other events and find out what they do.  Don't be afraid to ask them to give you some tips and advice about everything from playing specific songs to how they get paid.  Most musicians will be open and happy to help you.

  • I want to play for a local cocktail lounge, hotel, or restaurant. What do I need to learn to help me achieve this goal?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    Learn the fundamentals of playing the piano with chords.  Lounges, hotels and restaurants are places you're most likely to hear standards or pop music in a piano standard style.  Some examples of artists are Billy Joel and Elton John just to name a few.  Standard songs can be anything from "The look of love" to "My favorite things".  Get yourself some fake books and learn how to play these songs from memory.  Talk to other lounge/restaurant piano players and ask them about the songs that they play and how they got started.  If you visit them at work, be good to their tip jar and they will likely answer any question that you have.  The money you spend will be a good investment.

  • I just want to play for fun. What's the fastest way for me to learn how to play the piano?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    Stay away from traditional piano lessons that are designed to teach you how to read music and play from written music only.  Don't sign up for 30 minute piano lessons once a week because that's also designed to sequentially create a general skill in music that has very little value for someone that desires to play music at the piano and sound good.  Learn musical concepts such as chords, progressions, runs, fills etc. and other concepts that you need to play popular music.  Learn how to play songs from fake books.

  • I want to get started learning how to play the piano but I'm afraid I won't stick with it long enough to learn. What is the best way for me to stay motivated?
    Greg Lee17-02-2015

    Have a plan.  In other words, write down all of the reasons you have for wanting to learn to play the piano.   Do you want to play for your local church, hotel, restaurant, or events such as weddings or parties?    Make sure that you have a plan for setting aside time each day for your piano study.  Break up your piano study sessions in smaller increments than just thirty minutes or an hour so you don't overwork you brain and muscles.   Most importantly, find a system/method that works for you and one that keeps you motivated and excited.  Recognize that you'll have plateaus in your learning but by being consistent, you'll have break throughs  that will take you to the next level up.  Stay excited and you'll stay motivated.

  • There's a lot of piano learnng systems and methods. What is actually the best way to learn?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    Playing any kind of musical instrument involves the mind and body.  It takes the brain, eyes, ears and hands to make music at the keyboard.  Although it takes all of these elements, your greatest learning tool as a beginner is visual information.  Traditionally this has always been written music.  But having to read music is the very reason that most students quit lessons before they reach an intermediate level.  The best methods for learning how to play popular music on the keyboard incorporates video, audio and a system of notating chords and melodies.

  • My piano instructor tells me that the only way to learn how to play the piano properly is to take traditional piano lesssons for many years. Is this true?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    Traditional piano lessons have always produced traditional results.  If a your goal is to learn to play the classical music repertoire which consist of etudes, sonatas, nocturnes, etc., it's always been expected that you learn to read music and play with the precision and spirit that the composer(s) of that time had in mind.  Your piano instructor is correct if that's your aspirations.  If you're desire is to play popular music which consist of but is not limited to pop, rock, jazz, blues, country, Latin, etc. then the answer is no because there are much more effective ways to learn to play music in which there's no real boundaries as to what you choose to play and how you choose to play it.

  • Do you have to be born with natural piano playing ability?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    No.  It's true that there's always been musical prodigies and naturally talented musicians everywhere but you'll find that most music playing ability stems from the effort and time that's been invested in learning.

     

  • I'm discouraged because I don't think I have any talent. Should I continue trying to learn how to play the piano?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    Yes.  You'll discover that as most successful musicians do, that your "talent" will increase as you continue to learn your craft.  No matter what the endeavor in life is, most people don't just have natural talent.   They maintain a consistent focus and repetition to learn and do what makes them successful.

  • Will I have to play scales several hours a week in order to learn to play the piano?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    No.  First of all, the word "scale" is a bad word.  (As most piano students had to endure scale torture) a scale is nothing more than a key of music in which you draw from to play melodies and chords.  It has little musical value to play scales up down the keyboard in respect to learning popular music.

  • Do I need to learn a lot of music thoery before I can actually start playng real music on the piano?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    No.  In fact you need a different kind of music theory that I like to refer to the "mechanics of music".

  • I want to write my own music. What do I need to learn to help me achieve this goal?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    You need to learn the fundamentals of playing music on the keyboard with chords.  You also need to learn to different rhythms and focus on learning how to play music in the musical style you wish to play.

  • I've seen videos offering instruction on how to play piano overnight. Is this possible?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    If your desire is to play music at it's most basic level which is nothing more than picking out and playing melodies with one finger, then it's very possible.  However, in the context of learning how to play music with the rich harmonies that most people have a desire to learn to play, then the answer is no.  If it were as easy and effortless to learn how to play the piano overnight then no one would need any instruction because it would be as easy and effortless as watching tv.

  • 2.Questions about Chords
    This category consist of the most common FAQ about chords.
  • How many chords are there on the piano?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    The number of chords in music are infinite because they're so many ways to voice chords.  But at its most basic level, there are only 12 Major chords.  This is very significant because the 12 Major chords are the king of all chords and all chords are derivative of them.

  • How many chords do I have to learn to play songs on the piano?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    You actually only need to learn 3 chords on the keyboard to play just about any popular song.  But you'll find out that it's so much more satisfying to go through the process of learning all 12 Major chords.  That in turn will segway you into learning how build any chord to create rich harmonies and satisfying arrangements of songs.

  • Do I have to know all 12 keys in order to make real music on the piano?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    No.  You don''t have to know all 12 major keys in music in order to start making real music on the piano.  You start by learning the 12 major chords and go from there.  But you will find that learning all 12 major keys is not difficult and is a great learning experience.

  • I want to be able to accompany myself or another person singing on the piano. Is this difficult to learn?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    No.  Accompanying a singer on the piano is a matter of playing chords in a rhythmic fashion as opposed to having to play the melody and the rhythm in a song.

  • What is a chord voicing?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    A chord voicing is simply an arrangement of the notes in a chord.

  • What is voice leading?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    Voice leading is having chord voicings in such a way that smoothly transition into other chords without having minimal movement of the hands.  In other words the notes of the chord you're moving from are very close to the chord your moving to.

  • I've tried chord courses or traditional instruction and I'm frustrated because my piano playing sounds amatuerish and dull. What am I doing wrong?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    It takes time and repetition for a beginner to gain fluidity and find their own style.  You may need to just continue what you're doing in your piano study or you may need to evaluate whether or not the method you're using is right for you.  Ask yourself what your goals are as a musician.  Are you more of a visual learner but the method you're learning from is more for traditional piano students who read music?  Time is too valuable to waste.  Make sure you're spending enough time to achieve what your musical goals are.  But if you're certain that you are dedicated to learning and you can't seem to break through a plateau, try another approach to learning.

     

  • How difficult is it to learn to play the piano with chords just from watching videos?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    No.  I would say it's very much like someone showing you how to play in person.  You do however still need  some type of musical notation that shows you what play on the keyboard.  Video is transitory and is always in motion.  Of course the more well versed you are in chords, the easier it is to benefit from  a video tutorial.

  • I've tried learning songs strictly from reading sheet music and the songs don't sound anything like the recorded version that I've always heard on the radio. Why?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    The sheet music that you buy has been arranged by the publisher.  The actual person who transcribed the arrangement may not be familiar with the song as much as yourself.  It's likely you've heard the song hundreds of times on the radio and you're buying the sheet music because you really want to learn to  play the song.  But when you do go through the effort of learning the song exactly as it's written, you notice the chords aren't voiced exactly like your favorite recording artist voiced it.  There's certain rhythms and riffs that don't sound anything like what your used to hearing.  In this case it's better to use sheet music as more of a lead sheet or guide and depend upon your ear to tell you how the song is really supposed to sound.

     

  • I'm taking traditional piano lessons and I want to also play in the context of chords. Will learning how to play with chords get in the way of my traditional piano study?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    No.  All music is made of chords in some form or fashion.  Even though learning classical music is not typically done with a chord approach, it's still helpful to be well versed in chords because recognizing chords and chord tones are simply recognizing the relationships of notes which make them easier to understand and remember.

  • I have a child that I want to start coaching with their piano studies. How old should they be to start learning how to play with chords?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    You can start teaching a child about simple triads as early as when they start studying piano.  If you want to coach them to start playing more sophisticated chord voicings like you find in the popular music of today, around age 10 is a good time and also you may want them to at least be able to reach an octave on the keyboard with one hand.

  • How is learning how to play the piano and other keyboard instruments with chords different than traditional piano lessons?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    Traditional piano lessons have always been about reading music and playing within the boundaries of written music.  It's very structured and it's expected that you adhere to that structure as your progress through the lessons.  It's a weekly affair that continues for many years with the outcome for most students that continue, being that they gain a general skill in music and become a proficient note reader at best.  Learning to play the piano in the context with chords is not structured on reading music but has more of an interpretive approach that allow musical freedom and is based on the enjoyment of playing your favorite music and growing as you learn.

     

  • I have an organ instead of a piano. Can I study chords on an organ?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    Yes.  The nature of the organ is slightly different than the piano being the non-weighed keys and foot pedals but if your goal is to play organ or if it's just simply the only instrument you have available, you certainly can.

  • I have a traditional piano instructor and he/she isn't supportive of my supplementing my lessons by learning how to play with chords. What should I do?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    If this is the case, your traditional piano instructor may feel that it's best for you to not veer outside of the lessons they're teaching you because they fear you may develop some bad habits in your piano study.  They may feel that your music reading will suffer because the study of chords and progressions are often not written out in standard music notation.  But this is not the case.  Often times when a traditional piano instructor feels this way, it's usually because this is the way the he or she was taught and they're not open to new ways of learning.  Plus, if their teaching is more in line with the study of the classical music repertoire they may not hold studying chords in high regard compared to reading music.  They may be the instructor, but ultimately it's your time and effort so you have to decide what your musical goals are.  If they're different than what your instructor is orienting their teaching to, you have to make the decision to continue or make a change that supports your musical future.

  • I want to learn how to play the piano but I don't want to do tedius and boring exercises for hours every day. How is learning with chords different?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    Learning to play the piano in the context of chords is not about reading music or doing hours of tedious exercises.  It' about recognizing the relationships between notes and how to create rich voicings chord progressions that allow you to play the kind of music that people want to listen to.

     

  • Will playing piano with chords help me with learning classical music?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    Yes.  All music is created and can be analyzed in the context of chords; even classical music.  When you recognize the relationship between notes, you start to actually see them in the context of chords.

  • I know someone who took several years of piano lessons and when they play popular songs, it sounds mechanical like a computer playing music. Why?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    It's most likely that person has learned to read music very precisely to the point they have never developed musical freedom that would have allowed them play many parts of a song that are not necessarily on the page.  Reading music isn't a bad thing until it keeps you from having the freedom and expression to make a piece of music your own.

  • What are chord symbols?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    Chord symbols are simply letters above the staff lines on a score or lead sheet that indicate the chord to be played during the current measure of music.

  • I would like to learn how to play hymns for my local church. Will learning how to play piano with chords help me with this?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    Absolutely Yes.  The hymns in your church hymn book are arranged in four part harmony which is a vocal arrangement.  By learning to play hymns using chords instead playing the written arrangement, they not only sound better but are easier to play.

  • I want to play keyboards in a band. Will learning how to play with chords help me or do I need to take traditional lessons?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    It will benefit you far better to learn how to play keyboards in the context of chords if you wish to play in a band because you will need to know how to play from lead sheets and chord charts instead of standard written music.

  • Is learning how to play the piano with chords more complicated than learning to read music only?
    Greg Lee20-02-2015

    No.  It's far easier to learn how to play music with chords than by reading standard music notation because by playing chords you're actually playing notes without having to read notes.  From there it's a matter of playing chords and voicings that you already know.

  • What's the difference in learning how to play the piano by reading music and learning how to play with chords?
    Greg Lee21-02-2015

    Learning how to play the piano by reading music is about playing with precision and staying within the boundaries of the composer or arranger.  It's fixed, limited, strict and lessons are drawn out over a period of years.  Skipping ahead or being creative is discouraged even beyond the beginning level.  Learning to play in the context of chords is about freedom and interpreting the music that you want to play.  Using lead sheets or chord charts are encouraged and are a breath of fresh air compared to only being able to play the music that's at your sight reading level.

  • I want to play classical music only. Will learning to play with chords help me achieve this?
    Greg Lee21-02-2015

    Unfortunately, no.  Learning chords can help your musical vocabulary with any style of music but if your goal is to exclusively play the classical music repertoire, your piano studies are going to have to reflect the nature of what's required to play that genre of music.

  • I want to play pop piano. Will learning to play with chords help me achieve this?
    Greg Lee21-02-2015

    Absolutely Yes!  The nature of pop music involves playing in the context of chords and it has always been that way.  Chords were made for pop music.

  • I want to get started learning how to play jazz piano. Will learning how to play with chords help me?
    Greg Lee21-02-2015

    Yes.  Jazz piano is known for it's chord voicings and without chords there wouldn't be jazz music.

  • I'm interested in learning to play gospel piano only. Will learning to play the piano with chords help me achieve this goal?
    Greg Lee21-02-2015

    Yes.  Gospel piano chords are a signature sound of the gospel music genre.  Whether it's blues or jazz music that you aspire to play, it all came from gospel music.

  • Do I have to play the chords given in piece of sheet music in order for it to sound right?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    No.  That is to say that it's not a must that you play the chords that have been notated in a piece of written music.  Sometimes, the chords given are just fine and will work but as you learn how to create rich voicings, you'll want to play your own arrangements.  A simple popular song can be re-voiced to create a fresh and rich sounding arrangement.

  • Is there any way to play hymns from a hymn book without them sounding so dull?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    Yes.  Although most church pianists play hymn arrangements as they're written in their hymn book, they were never intended to be played by an instrument.  They are vocal arrangements.  (soprano, alto, tenor & bass)  By learning chords, you can take any hymn and give it a contemporary or modern sound just by playing the melody with your own chords arrangements and ignore everything else that's written.

  • Why don't hymn books have chord symbols?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    Older hymn books don't have chord symbols because they were intended to be vocal arrangements instead of being played by a piano.  You can find some newer gospel and hymn books that actually do have chord symbols in them.

  • What is a triad?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    A triad is a 3 note chord.  It can be Major or minor.

  • What is a seventh chord?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    A seventh chord is a Major triad with a dominant 7th added to it.

  • What is a Major seventh chord?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    A Major triad with an Major 7th added to it.

  • What is an extended chord?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    An extended chord is a Major or minor triad that that has color tones added to it that can be one or more of the following: Major/minor 7th, 6th, 9th, 11th, or a 13th.

  • What is a suspended chord?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    A suspended chord is one in which the third is not present and has been replaced usually by a 2nd or a 4th.

  • What is an altered chord?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    An altered chord is an extended chord in which the 9th and/or the 5th has been raised or lowered.

  • What is a diminished chord?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    A diminished chord is a triad in which the 3rd and the 5th have been lowered a half step.

  • What is an augmented chord?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    An augmented chord is a Major triad with a 5th that has been raised a half step.

  • What is a chord inversion?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    A chord inversion is the rearrangement of the notes in which the root is no longer on the bottom of the chord.

  • What is a quartal voicing?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    A quartal voicing is one in which the notes are stacked in intervals of fourths.

  • What is a tritone?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    A tritone consist of two notes that have an interval of a minor 5th.

  • What is a ditone?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    A ditone consist of two notes that have an interval of a major 3rd.

  • What is a run on the piano?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    A run is a series of notes that are played up or down the keyboard in rapid succession.

  • What is a glissando?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    A glissando is a series of notes that are played up or down the keyboard usually by gliding the back of a single finger across the keys.

  • What is the numbering system?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    The numbering system is a structuring of keys, chords and scales in a numerical order that makes them simpler to transpose, modulate, or compose music.

  • What is a lead sheet?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    A lead sheet is a musical arrangement that consist of only a single melody line and chords symbols.

  • What is a fake book?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    A fake book is a collection of lead sheets.

  • What are color tones?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    Color tones are notes that are added to basic Major or minor triads that add color to chords to give them a richer sound.  They usually consists of 6ths 7ths and 9ths and can be altered.

  • What is comping on the piano?
    Greg Lee22-02-2015

    Comping is short for accompanying which can mean playing a "vamp" or pattern in one hand to support another or simply playing music on the piano while a singer or other instrument sings or plays a melody.

  • 3.Questions about Piano Styles
    This category consist of the most common FAQ about the different musical styles played on the piano.
  • What's the differece between playing popular piano and classical piano?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Playing classical music is about recreating a musical tradition on the piano.  It's about playing written music in a style that reflects the time period in which it was written.  It's about precision and playing within written musical boundaries.  In order for most students to play classical pieces at an advanced level, it takes several years of traditional piano lessons.  Playing popular music is recreating as well as creating a musical tradition on the piano.  But unlike classical music, the popular music tradition is flexible.  It's about musical freedom.  It's more based on the structure of chords and much more interpretive than the classical music repertoire.  Popular music is just that: popular.  Playing popular  music is far more satisfying for people to listen to whether they are are young or old.  There are so many genres of popular music for people to choose from.  Pop, jazz, country, Latin, gospel, and blues are just a few styles that so many people have been introduced to by radio and recording technologies for over a hundred years now.

  • What's the difference between playing pop piano and jazz piano?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    The main difference between playing these two styles on the surface is the harmony.  In other words, chords that are used in jazz are sophisticated in the sense that they're often altered and have some unconventional voicings and progressions.  Jazz is more of a free form music art.  Pop piano can have jazz elements in them and can even have strong influences from the jazz genre.  But you will typically find the pop piano harmony is more at at basic harmonic level compared to jazz.

  • Is blues piano and gospel piano the same musical style?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Although gospel and blues music are different genres, they're actually fused together because of cultural evolution and playing them on the piano are practically identical styles.

  • What is cocktail piano?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Cocktail piano is a reference to where a particular style of music is played rather than a genre of music.  You'll typically find that in restaurants, lounges, hotels, etc. easy listening music and standards are played that provide a relaxed atmosphere and playing songs in the "cocktail piano" style is often viewed as background music.

  • What is latin/salsa piano?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Although there's no definitive definition for this style of music that could be agreed upon by every instrumentalist out there, it's essentially a Afro/Cuban style of music that emerged as a jazz offshoot in the 1960's mainly from New York.

  • How is country piano different from regular pop piano?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Country and pop music is actually a blend but the difference being the way chords are played (Floyd Cramer's slip note style) and the rhythms themselves.

  • What is hip hop keyboard?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Hip hop keyboard is essentially a rhythmic style of instrumentation that supports the rap/hip hop style genre of music that will include a variety of synthesizer and keyboard sounds.  You'll often find piano, synth bass, and lead sounds just to name a few.

  • What is new age piano?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    New age piano is a relaxing easy listening style of music that is played without any heavy rhythmic qualities but instead in a slow meditative style.

  • What is stride piano?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Stride piano is a style of jazz in which the left hand plays a single bass note on the first and third beat of a measure and plays the rest of the chord on beats two and four.  It can also play combinations of octaves or other intervals instead of a single note.

  • What is funk piano?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Funk piano is a rhythmic dance style that incorporates syncopated rhythms and with r&b chords and voicings.

  • What are piano standards?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Piano standards refer to the jazz/pop music of the early to mid 20th century which are played in a easy listening style but can voiced or played with any style in mind.

  • 4.Questions about The Color Score Method
    This Category consists of the most common FAQ about The Color Score Method as a learning system for Chords and voicings.
  • What is Color Score?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Color Score Professional Chord Method is a learning system to play and create popular piano songs and arrangements.

  • How is it different from learning how to play the piano than traditional piano lessons?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Color Score is a visual learning system that uses the language of color to make it simpler and easier to learn how to play professional sounding music on the piano or keyboard.  Traditional piano lessons are about learning how to read music by gradually increasing sight reading skills over several years time to obtain a general skill in music.

  • How is it different from learning how to play the piano than other chord methods/instruction?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Other chord methods may use written music, text to notate chords, audio, video and images or all of these methods to teach piano.  Although these are useful and some are utilized in the Color Score Method, a visual method to voice chords and illustrate music is essential and the visual formats such as Noteshots & Keyshots found in Color Score make it easier and simpler to learn.

  • What are Note Shots?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    A Noteshot is a musical notational element that is color coded to represent a specific numerical degree found in a particular key of music.  The purpose of the Noteshot is to illustrate a particular rhythmic element in a song which can be a chord and or riff/run.

  • What are Key Shots?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    A Keyshot is a musical element designed to notate chords in the form of a keyboard with colored dots to signify the elements that make up the chord and where to put your fingers in order to create the voicing shown.

  • Why does having colored visual information make it easier to learn to play the piano?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Color is a visual language that coneys information without having to read thus making it faster and easier to play music on the keyboard than by reading traditional music notation.

  • What is kinesthetic ability?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Kinesthetic ability is a type physical intelligence that allows you to use either your whole or parts of your body to solve a problem or create something.

  • Is reading music a requirement to learn how to play the piano with Color Score?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    No.  Color Score is a colorful visual method to teach you how to play the piano in a non-traditional way.  The only exception to reading music is be able to read a simple one note melody line in order to play from lead sheets and fake books.

  • Is the goal with Color Score to learn how to read music in a different way?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    No.  Color Score is about learning to play.  The Noteshots and Keyshots are simply tools that allow you to accomplish this goal.

  • Do you have to play music in the Color Score format exactly as its written?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    No.  Even the illustrations of music in Color Score are meant to be a guide which leaves your ear to be the final judge as to whether your playing the music correctly.

  • What is the purpose of learning the instructional pieces in Color Score?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    The instructional pieces in Color Score are designed to teach you the ability to create professional chord voicings by the sight and structure of the chords.

  • How long will it take me to learn how to play real songs/music after going through the Color Score Course?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    You are playing real music right away as you start with the pieces inside the course.  How long it takes you to play rich chords and voicings of your own music very much depends on what your skill level and experience is at the beginning.  Learning how to play in the context of professional sounding music is a gradual culturing of your skills and doesn't happen in just a few days.  You'll be happy to know that the process doesn't have to take years either.  Everyone learns and progresses at different rates, but if you're positive and consistent, you'll not only achieve the results that you want in a short time, you'll also have fun doing it.  The great thing about learning to play the piano is that the learning never ends you always have the next level up to look forward to.

  • Most people including myself want to learn how to play the piano as fast as possible. Should that be my number one priority as as piano student?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    No.  When you're just in a hurry and that's your primary focus, you get discouraged and burnt out.  It's also very hard to enjoy the process when all you can think about is getting where you need to go as fast as possible.  Enjoy the process and enjoy each level as you achieve it.

  • It seems I've reached a plateau in my piano studies and I'm frustrated. What can Ido to overcome this?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Reaching a plateau is just as common in learning a musical instrument as it is with anything you're aspiring to learn in life.  The best way to overcome the frustration that you experience with a plateau is to recognize that you will always reach them and you should expect them.  Press on and continue to learn and you will break through the plateau at some point reaching the next level up.

  • Should I focus on learning to play fast or slow during a study session at the piano?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Take your time in front of the keyboard.  Of course you're goal is to play on tempo and with the rhythm of the song that you're learning, but don't sacrifice developing good habits and playing chords and melodies with precision.  As learn slow this will allow you to play faster later on.

  • 5.Questions about keyboard instruments
    This Category consists of the most common FAQ about keyboard instruments including synthesizers and digital pianos.
  • What is the best instrument to have when starting out as a beginning piano student?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    The best instrument to have when you're starting out is the one you already have.  If it's a small keyboard you got for Christmas when you were ten or an out of tune acoustic piano that belonged to your grandma, don't think you have go out and buy a shiny new instrument before you can get started.  If you have no instrument at all but you have access to one at your church or at a friends house, ask to borrow it or use it there just to get started.

  • I don't have any kind of keyboard instrument. What kind should I buy?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    First of all, you don't need to buy an expensive keyboard instrument to get started.  Beyond that, it's about the budget you have, the space available in your home and whether you prefer to have something portable to study with.  The most reasonable recommendation I have is a digital instrument with 88 weighted keys that weighs 20 to 50 lbs.  However portable keyboards with 61 or 73 keys are just fine to get started on.  Generally speaking, the more money you spend should be more of a long term item for your needs and the less you spend should be more of a short term item for your needs.

  • What's the difference between a digital piano and an accoustic piano?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    An acoustic piano has strings, hammers and a soundboard among other things that create sound as you play it.  A digital piano models the acoustic instrument and instead of creating sound from strings and hammers, it plays samples as you press the keys which have been recorded from an acoustic piano in a studio.  Acoustic pianos can weigh anywhere from 300 to 500 lbs and digital pianos can be as light 12 lbs.

  • What's the difference between learning how to play on a piano and a keyboard?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    The only difference apart from the portability or lack thereof, can be the feel or weight of the keys and the presence of absence of the 3 different dynamic pedals you usually find on acoustic pianos.

  • I'm considering buying a keyboard/piano how much should I spend?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Your budget for an instrument should be your primary focus when you're deciding how much to spend.  A good rule of thumb is not to necessarily buy the newest instrument in an acoustic piano.  At the same time you shouldn't necessarily buy the latest technology in a digital instrument.  Buying a lightly used instrument or technology that is "middle of the road" can be a reasonable amount to spend on an instrument.  If you're just staring out, spending between $100 to $500 is within this range.

  • Where should I look to buy a keyboard/piano?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Start in your own neighborhood.  You may already know someone who has a piano or keyboard that they never use.  There's plenty of churches that upgrade instruments and have old ones they don't need anymore.  Contact music directors and find out if they or someone they know at a different church has instruments they want to sell.  This goes for acoustic pianos, digital and electronic keyboards.  Craigslist is a great place to look.  Parents often buy keyboards for their kids that quickly lose interest and want to sell a practically new keyboard.  Ebay is also a great place to look for used keyboards in new condition.  Last of all music instrument stores sell new and used gear.  Find the ones in your area.

  • What brands of pianos/keyboards should I look for?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Among the most well known manufacturers of keyboard instruments are Casio and Yamaha.  They both have starter and pro versions of keyboards and digital pianos.  Roland, Korg, Kurzweil and Nord among the most well known makers of professional keyboard instruments.

     

  • What are the different types of keys on keyboard instruments?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Weighted keys such as the ones found on acoustic pianos are among the most common and have a hammer action that strikes the strings or emulates the action on digital instruments.  Semi-weighted keys are a lighter version of hammer action keys.  Synth action keys are spring action and have a lighter feel than weighted keyboards.  Waterfall keys do not have extruding lips or edges but a square front so organ players can perform a technique such as "wiping" across the keys without hurting their hand.

  • What should I avoid when shopping for a keyboard/piano?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    When shopping for new keyboard instruments it's best not to get too caught up in the newest technology because it's the early adopters who are the ones that pay the most for the technology.  It's not necessarily wrong to buy the latest keyboard with the newest features but you should know that slightly older boards will get the job done of getting your started learning.  If buying used, avoid answering ads that have no picture or a stock picture.   When you do go look at an item, inspect the outside of the instrument for abuse or neglect.  Scratches and normal wear is fine, but if it has heavy dings or dents it might be an indication that it's been dropped or just plain abused.  It's often pretty easy to spot if this is the case.

  • How can I get the best deal when shopping for a keyboard/piano?
    Greg Lee23-02-2015

    Your best bet for getting the best deal is searching for a used instrument.  Local instrument stores, churches that are selling used gear, Craigslist and Ebay are among the best places to shop.  If you're answering an ad online, find out where the item is located as to your proximity.  Ask questions as to how long they've had the instrument and why they're selling.  Compare the asking price to other ads for the same item online.  Don't make them an offer over the phone or through an email.  It's not likely that  they'll take the offer because they don't know you're serious about buying it.  If you are, go take a look at the item and make them a reasonable offer with cash in person.  Be patient and frequently check the places mentioned earlier.  Unlike the old days of the newspaper, gear is being advertised in real time all day, every day.

  • What is a keyboard controller?
    Greg Lee24-02-2015

    A keyboard controller is a keyboard that is designed to trigger sounds inside a computer or another keyboard that has a sound engine.  It does not produce any sound on its on.  It's made to be used with virtual software instruments.

  • What is a keyboard workstation?
    Greg Lee24-02-2015

    A keyboard workstation is an all in one "Swiss army knife" type of  instrument designed to do many things independent of a computer or external sound modules.  Most are capable of sequencing, hard disk recording, using as a drum machine, or even as a controller to use in tandem with a computer.  They're capable of producing hundreds or even thousands of sounds and can accurately emulate any kind of instrument imaginable.

  • I have the chance to get a piano for free. Is it worth going through the effort/expense of having it moved into my home?
    Greg Lee24-02-2015

    It depends.  First of all, is the instrument in good shape?  Does it need only minimal care to be usable as something you can play on a daily basis?  What will it cost to have it moved?  Moving distance and if it needs to be moved up stairs in your home will be factored in the moving costs.  Don't try to have it moved by friends or relatives who have no experience moving pianos to save money on moving costs.  If it's more expensive to have an acoustic piano moved than what it's actually worth, consider another option.  If it needs a heavy restoration for it to be in good working order, it's not likely to be worth the time and expense.  I find ads on Craigslist often offering a "free" piano if you'll only come move it.  Be very careful taking someone up on this offer.

  • How much does it cost to have a piano moved?
    Greg Lee25-02-2015

    It depends on the size of the piano and the distance moved.  Grand, upright, studio and spinet pianos are different sizes and weights.  You can expect to pay around $200 and up.  Do not hire anyone that doesn't have piano moving experience.   Make sure that they have the equipment and the knowledge to get the job done safely.

  • I have a piano but it needs restoration or tuning. Is it worth the expense?
    Greg Lee24-02-2015

    Having an acoustic piano tuned is common and needs to be done on a regular basis.  A piano restoration is a totally different matter.  Complete restorations are often more expensive than what the piano is worth.

  • Where is the best place in my home to keep my keyboard/piano for my study sessios?
    Greg Lee24-02-2015

    You want your piano study to be in an area of your home that is clean and dry.  Never store an acoustic piano in a high humidity area such as a basement.

  • I'm limited on space. Is it ok to keep my accoustic piano in my basement?
    Greg Lee24-02-2015

    No.  Basements have high humidity and keeping an acoustic piano in such an environment can ruin the soundboard as well as other components.

  • I have roommates/neighbors and the noise from my piano study bothers them. What should I do?
    Greg Lee24-02-2015

    Try arranging a time when they're not going to be affected by your piano study sessions such as when they're away from home.  Work out an agreement with them on your study sessions.  The simplest solution is to obtain a digital instrument that has a headphone jack in which your study sessions can't be heard by others.

  • What are the best entry level piano and keyboard instruments available?
    Greg Lee24-02-2015

    If you're looking for an entry level keyboard instrument, Casio and Yamaha manufacture entry and pro level instruments.  These brands are well known and are a good choice to get you started.

  • What are the best professional level piano and keyboard instruments available?
    Greg Lee24-02-2015

    Roland, Yamaha, Korg, Kurzweil and Nord among the best professional instruments available on the market today.

  • How much should I expect to pay to have my accoustic piano tuned?
    Greg Lee24-02-2015

    The cost to have a piano tuned can range anywhere from $75 to $200.  It can depend on where you live and any travel time involved.  Be sure to call a professional for an estimate and ask questions such as "How long have you been in the business and what's involved in getting my piano tuned?"

  • I want to upgrade to a better piano/keyboard. What should I look for?
    Greg Lee24-02-2015

    If it's a digital instrument, look at things like polyphony and key action.  The higher the polyphony and the better the hammer action, the more realistic it will sound like their acoustic counterparts.  If it's an acoustic instrument, you won't find a whole lot of advances in technology because acoustic piano technology doesn't change very much.  Listen for the sound and tone of the instrument and see if it pleases your ear and focus more on build quality and any bonuses a dealer might throw in.

  • I'm considering renting a piano. What are the details/costs?
    Greg Lee24-02-2015

    Piano rentals can be anywhere from $30 to $200 a month.  Some companies rent acoustic and digital instruments.  The details vary so be sure to ask about terms and conditions.  Look out for any fine print as you have to do with renting anything and make sure this is the right decision for you.

  • What is midi?
    Greg Lee25-02-2015

    Midi stands for musical instrument digital interface and is a protocol developed in the 1980's which allows electronic instruments, computers and other digital musical gear to communicate with each other.

  • What are virtual instruments?
    Greg Lee25-02-2015

    Virtual instruments are ones that can be played on a computer usually with a midi keyboard or some other type of midi controller.

  • What is an arranger keyboard?
    Greg Lee25-02-2015

    An arranger keyboard is one that has built-in auto-accompaniment which play backing tracks and arrangements as you play songs.  The purpose of the arranger keyboard is to provide the accompaniment of a real band easily and quickly with just the press of a few buttons.

  • I have an electronic keyboard but it's damaged. Is it worth having it repaired?
    Greg Lee25-02-2015

    It depends on the condition and whether or not it is a pro or a consumer instrument.  It also depends on its value.  If it's a starter keyboard such as the ones you find in discount stores, you're probably better of buying another new or used instrument.  If it's a pro instrument, call the manufacturer.  Find out its value and where it can be repaired.  If the cost is more than it will worth after the repair, you may be better off replacing it as well.

  • What should I do to care for my piano/keyboard so I can keep in good condition?
    Greg Lee25-02-2015

    The number one thing to never do with any acoustic or digital instrument is to use any kind of harsh chemicals to clean it.  This can be bleach, acids or any heavy household cleaners.  The safest bet for cleaning is a damp (not soaking wet) cloth to wipe down the cabinet, casing and /or keys.  BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT GETTING LIQUIDS AROUND THE KEYS OF A DIGITAL INSTRUMENT. As with any portable instrument, invest in the appropriate carrying case if you intend to take it with you away from home.  Read owners manuals and user guides for the best information from the manufacturer on how to protect and keep your instrument like new.

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