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I studied piano for a couple years as a young adult. I enjoyed it, but got busy with school/activities/other instruments and it fell by the wayside.

I've been interested in picking it up again and have read some FAQs on the web that suggest a different way of learning than I've been exposed to...basically foregoing scales, individual notes, and complex fingerings, and focusing on learning chords (and patterns) to play full songs. This is interesting because it would allow me to play full songs pretty quickly.

Despite the more traditional concerns, is this a valid way to learn Piano? Has anyone done this with much success? And if so, any suggestions on how to do about doing this (i.e. take an online course, get a teacher, etc...)?

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I can't speak from experience, but you can definitely learn with this. A lot of synth/keyboard players start out this way. Songs where the focus is more on the vocals and the melody is uncomplicated are a good choice, since glossing over the melody won't be noticed or can simply provide a different feel to the song. I'm not a strong sight reader so being able to just play chords when I need to pick up and play a new song in a pinch is very useful. –  Matthew Read Jul 6 '11 at 23:44
The newest versions of GarageBand for Mac (not the iPad version) include video lessons for piano and guitar. To a certain extent, the emphasis in the piano lessons is slightly towards chords. Especially in the "master class" segments of learning to play pop songs from the artists themselves. –  UtopiaLtd Jul 7 '11 at 8:27

2 Answers 2

Depends on your goals. A comprehensive mix of reading, playing by ear, improvisation and theory will take you the farthest but chords are a fun shortcut to good times jamming with friends or self-accompanying singing.

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I'm just starting to learn as well I think it's a good idea to make sure you get to play stuff you enjoy. Although learning your scales is important, I found it fun to look up the chords to songs I like and learn how to play them as well.

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