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I'm a touch-typist, and I want to learn piano. Does my touch-typing help me learn it faster? I have a good amount of control over my left hand, and my palms are curved as if I hold an small orange. My pinkies (little fingers) are staying on keyboard, and all of my fingers are not getting far in the air while I'm typing. Do these attributes help me learn piano faster?

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Good question, i've thought about this too! I'm now playing for about 5 years but i don't remember it really be that helpful for the reasons stated by Babu! Anyhow, nice one! ;) –  Sander Versluys Jul 30 '11 at 8:32
    
If I played piano as well as I typed, then I'd be amazing (130 wpm). Alas, my piano playing is much pokier. –  Nick Feb 28 '12 at 1:18
    
It never helped me. I'm an excellent touch-typist and I never could learn piano. –  Wheat Williams Jul 23 '13 at 1:33
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7 Answers 7

up vote 12 down vote accepted

As far as I can see, your only benefit will be already having learned the basics of technique (that is, if you type properly, with relaxed fingers, wrists held high, etc). The finger independence that you'll have learned is certainly important, but I don't think that it will help you in any significant way for the following reasons:

  • Computer keyboards have an entirely different feel from piano keyboards, all the way from the layout to the movement of the key (short, easy throw versus a piano's long throw).
  • Computer keyboards are not touch-sensitive, while piano keyboards are.
  • The most important (or at least the trickiest) movements in respect to playing the piano are cross-overs, where you tuck your thumb under your other fingers to continue a line. This is entirely untrained by computer keyboards.
  • Piano music generally requires you to use your hands for independent means (Usually one for melody and one for accompaniment). The issue is that typing does not train the ability to read two lines at the same time; it trains the ability to read one line and split it amongst your hands accordingly. (Cue arguments and flames :P)
  • And building off of the last point; For beginners, the biggest issue is reading musical notation, which obviously is completely untrained.

None of this means that learning to play the piano will be any harder for you; I just don't think that it will be any easier by virtue of being able to touch-type.

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Great answer @Babu. Thanks. –  Saeed Neamati Jul 29 '11 at 14:32
    
Touch typing hasn't helped me keep my hands relaxed either. My violin students have had stiff hands for the first few months, and having started proper piano lessons just last month, my teacher tells me that my hands are stiff too, particularly my wrist. I think tension comes more from learning something new, not from any kind of transferable technique. –  Rei Miyasaka Aug 1 '11 at 21:28
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Wrists held high? While I'm aware this applies to piano, wrists should rest on a surface while typing (ergonomic keyboards like the MS 4000 have pads for that). This is different from the piano. –  Kos Aug 2 '11 at 18:34
    
I do wonder whether it might be more true the other way round (piano -> touch typing) –  Benjol Apr 16 at 6:08
    
Unless your computer keyboard is laid out like a piano keyboard, not much, honestly. But it might help a very small (probably imperceptible) amount when it comes to getting your fingers used to pressing downward (even if only one at a time). In short, the only gains you've made for sure are knowledge of how your fingers work, if you weren't already aware. But I will add one thing to this excellent response: Reading std notation is not necessary to learn how to play piano or any other instrument; I highly recommend it, of course, but it's not necessary. –  AsianSquirrel Apr 20 at 15:06
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While theoretically it's probably better than nothing, I don't think it will matter. Maybe if you were used to a typewriter, because you have to develop your muscles more for that. There are certainly superficial similarities but major things like playing smoothly, heavily repeated patterns, moving up and down the keyboard, chord positions etc. won't be informed by your typing.

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The physical act of playing piano (or any instrument) is probably only 20% of the process, if that.

Music is an ear/brain thing, not a finger thing. It is not weightlifting or drag racing where more/faster always equals better.

It is a multi-disciplinary skill that involves broad aspects of thinking, anticipation, repetition and listening, not just how fast or independently your fingers can move. If that was all it took, then every 75 year old grandmother that has been knitting for 40 years could play like Chopin.

Can having finger dexterity assist during the beginning phases of learning any instrument? It probably can't hurt.

Will it in anyway translate into an increased ability to be a better piano playing musician? No.

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+1, type that paragraph once more, but this time, with feeling. –  Lee Kowalkowski Apr 15 at 9:39
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I've personally actually found it to be a detriment, the same with having previously been a percussionist. You're used to using your hands in concert; when typing, your hands are working together in order to create the words, code or whatever you're typing.

Once you move to piano, all of a sudden you need your hands to do dramatically different things. Your hands are so used to moving together and working together that when you're trying to do melody in one hand and harmony in another, it's easy for what you're doing with one hand to bleed over into the other. It can make playing syncopated pieces or anything with a good deal of hand independence a real chore.

Now, touch typing will help with your hand-eye coordination, which means you'll probably not have to look down as much sooner than others. But for the most part, I've found the large amount of typing, drumming (not the kit variety. That would've probably helped!) and driving I've done to actually make hand independence that much harder.

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A "classic" touch typist keeps fingers on a "standard position" (ASDF for the left hand and JKL: for the right), and reaches all keys from there without moving the whole hand.

As a result, on a piano, he can easily use the existing expertise on somewhat ten adjacent white keys (five directly under fingers and two on the sides) and all black keys in between. This helps a lot with simple songs. So, yes, a touch typist can start playing something really simple with less learning effort.

In order to reach more keys, a touch typist must violate an important touch typing rule and move all hand to the new basic position. This is already where the piano world begins, and this comes rather soon. However another main rule of touch typing is to use all fingers, pinky including, and not index and middle fingers only. This second rule remains valid and important.

Using more than two keys at once, using both hands at the same time and velocity curves are three other very new things to learn. Also, touch typist must re-learn to use thumbs for various piano keys. Thumbs are only used for spacebar on computer keyboard and I tend to forget I have them.

Mechanical typewriter also requires similar muscles and you also need to learn certain velocity curve, how to apply the force during the time of keystroke. A good typist will also apply less power when printing the dot than when printing the capital X, so he has skill of varying the stroke. The mechanism is also similar in some way; typewriter keys also drive hammers, just they strike paper rather than strings. It even has been used to play music as a percussion instrument!

Unfortunately all good said about mechanical typewriter does not apply to the recent computer keyboards.

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A piano keyboard is straight, not typing position. Your description rather reminds me of a bandonion rather than a piano: your hands stay in the same general position, and the arrangement of notes is largely arbitrary and has to be learned by heart. As a result, you don't fall victim to the temptation of excessive "key rollover" legato.

If you take a look at videos of virtuoso bandonion players, "typewriting" immediately comes to mind.

Piano is quite more dynamic in where you move hands and how you arrange scales (the absence of a rest position is quite a difference).

An in-between thing are diatonic and chromatic button accordions: you don't have a rest position there, the hand position more or less corresponds to pitch, arrangement is less linear (with chromatic, actually quite two-dimensional). Again, changing the overall hand position when doing scales and melodies involves practiced contortions that are absent in the fixed hand position of typewriting or bandonion (and likely also concertina) play.

I am pointing out some analogies rather than giving a recommendation: even with a larger visual similarity, good bandonion playing will take a good touch typist likely much longer than learning any piano-like instrument.

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The experience you have isolating your fingers and exhibiting control over them will help in some way. I know people are writing a million reasons as to why it won't help, but honestly, it's simply logic.

Keyboard: isolation of finger movement Piano: Isolation of finger movement

Keyboard: ability to remember placements without looking Piano: Ability to remember placements without looking

Keyboard: required to increase agility over time Piano: Ability to increase agility over time.

Perhaps your advantage may not bit a whole lot, but the advantage will be there in some way (even if only slightly).

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I thoroughly disagree. 1. Your fingers are already mostly independent and typing does not normally involve planting multiple fingers and releasing/moving them at different points, which is a major part of piano. 2. They layouts are completely different, knowing one doesn't help the other. 3. Typing doesn't require much "agility", certainly nothing near what piano does. Do you play? I don't think you can just assume it will benefit due to superficial similarities. –  Matthew Read Jul 22 '13 at 17:48
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