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I can memorise my regional songs by using Synthesia, play arpeggios and stuff, and impress others, but I think I will never learn piano properly this way.

I tried taking Udemy courses but the songs I learn there are completely western oriented, so much so that I cannot play those song (such as Auld Lang Syne) in front of the public, even at home, as no one will recognize / understand those song and they would ask me to play something popular in our region. This completely demotivates me which is why I begin to return to my old routine: memorise songs using Synthesia.

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    I think I understand your problem. There is a huge amount of piano literature in the western European musical tradition, and far less music transcribed for piano in other traditions. As the piano was invented in Europe, this makes sense, but does make it harder for people in other cultures to access sheet music for piano that they enjoy. I wish I had an answer for you because I know others in your situation. You might try to find a local teacher who can help you bridge the gap. Commented Jun 27 at 10:48
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    Maybe choose another instrument to start with, such as harmonium (I assume from your name that "regional" in your case means "Indian" or something related). You are more likely to find instructional materials using your regional songs if you start with an instrument that is traditionally used for that style of music. (For more on the harmonium in Indian music, the Wikipedia article is a decent overview.)
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 27 at 13:08
  • I have some suggestions, but first please edit to make clearer: What is your real goal? You say you successfully learn regional songs and impress people with them, and that sounds like what you want. When you say you "will never learn piano this way," I would argue that you are learning piano. Is the difference that you want to play these songs better? Or that you also want to play Western repertoire, but don't want to abandon the regional songs while you learn? Commented Jun 27 at 13:51
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    It would help to know what your 'region' actually is. The Indian sub-continent, I guess, but that only narrows it down a tad. Apart from songs, there must be piano pieces with no words (Fur Elise comes to mind) that are recognisable for your audience. Maybe include some of them. There also may be many songs which don't translate well onto piano, with its particular tuning, slanted purposely at Western music and ears.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 27 at 14:06
  • imslp.org has sheet music of many types. Maybe not much that's culturally relevant, but at least it's free
    – user121330
    Commented Jun 27 at 16:23

2 Answers 2

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The technical aspect of playing is not material-specific. If it's all the teacher offers, learn to play 'Auld Lang Syne' from notation. The reading skills and playing skills are completely transferable to reading and playing any other pieces of music.

You say the songs you want to play are available on Synthesia? But you can't find them in normal notation? Can you give us some examples of the sort of thing you want?

Anyway, however you access the songs, you'll also be developing your 'busking' skills. Choose a fairly simple song and work it out with just your brain and fingers. Yes you can!

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As @Laurence said, "the technical aspect of playing [the piano] is not material-specific". Even in the Western world, most teachers now will tailor the repertoire to what the student is interested in, especially when they are younger. Even the goal for the individualized piano lessons can vary:

  • some want to play standard Western classical pieces by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin
  • some want to play Jazz where ability to improvise is a must
  • some want a general skill to play any piano sheet music (in the ubiquitous Western notation) of any genre
  • some want to accompany traditional church music service whether on-the-spot harmonization will be very handy
  • some want to participate in contemporary Christian music where they usually go by just words and chords only (sometimes with melody line).

But when you review the above list, I think the ability to read piano sheet music and play it on the piano will be the most beneficial; it's a very versatile skill that would be good for any pianist playing any kind of music.

So for your non-Western living situation, I recommend this:

  1. Visit a local music store and ask whether there are piano sheet music for popular songs that you want to play. If there is none, ask a local musicians to write it down for you. Nowadays there are online websites like MuseScore where notating and sharing sheet music is very easy. So the local musicians can use MuseScore to publish your region's sheet music, which then will be good for other piano students in your region.
  2. Use Udemy to learn the general fingering and music-reading skill, and then practice using the sheet music you can find for your region's popular songs.
  3. Find a local piano teacher who can guide you and take a few lessons from them before going to online courses again. They can diagnose what skills you need and other piano playing factors that you may not realize are important to address.

There is always a chatroom, where I'm sure someone in the community (including myself) would be willing to notate a simple song in MuseScore (or other tools), if you would provide a YouTube / mp3 link.

Good luck!

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