8

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?

11 Answers 11

15

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.

  • 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
  • 1
    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 '14 at 6:08
  • 1
    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. – ksoo Apr 20 '14 at 15:06
7

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.

5

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.

2

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.

2

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 seven adjacent white keys for the left hand and same number for the right hand (one key aside is not a problem). Touch typist is also trained to reach all black keys in between (that would be the second upper row in the typewriter).

A touch typist is perfectly trained to press the two keys at once if required (can apply left and right SHIFT as needed), but not three or more.

A classic touch typist is also skilled in driving the hammer action mechanism, similar to the piano mechanism. He will strike X much "louder" that dot (.).

So

  • 7 white keys for the left hand, 7 for the right (2 fixed positions).
  • No more than 2 keys at once.
  • Some skills with dynamics.

Probably it is possible to play many simple beginner songs this way.

1

I think it helps, definitely. I just returned to piano playing after more than 25 years - quit when i was 13 or so, had classical lessons for about 6 years by then, up to a decent standard for a 13 year old.

I've been super surprised how much it's come back, after just a week I'm almost playing fur elise again. And I'm sure typing in my job helps. It's given me finger strength, flexibility and co-ordination. It didn't occur to me, I was just pleased I was playing again, then I was at work and just typing away, and i looked down and suddenly realised what I was doing - finger exercises! I've been doing finger exercises every day for years. If i was in a different trade and didn't use my fingers to type, I'm sure i would be wayyyyyy rustier. It doesn't help you read music, but i'm sure it helps with dexterity and co-ordination.

0

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.

0

wow, i am definately shocked at how under-estimated speed-typing is, perhaps most of the commenters are actually just pianists and not speed-typers, if you're a speed typist or really know about it, then you must know that speed-typing gives a great ability to control and coordinate all your ten fingers naturally to the point where it's so fast and yet coordinated that you can't even track what each single finger is typing. It's that ability to type streams of words each word made of numerous different characters in a fraction of a second. An ability cannot be possible without almost perfecting the art of ligh-speed multi-tasking of fingers accordingly with your brain.

Coordination and Multitasking however is the only advantage that you would aquire from speed-typing. As for the rest of piano techniques and abilities, that you have to start from scratch.

  • 1
    I don't think being able to move your fingers fast affects you when your first learning. You're still going to be playing one hand at a time and very slowly. – Jacob Swanson Aug 29 '15 at 21:33
0

Go for it! The Piano is linear and the keys repeat which makes it easier to learn than being able to type. Take breaks, rest and repeat. It took about a week to learn a couple of intermediate songs on the piano. I'm contributing this to being able to type on a computer keyboard. The "key" differences that I've noticed would be that my hands would get muscle soreness from stretching between octaves. The first few times I would tire quickly and would delay the learning process. I bought my first piano a month ago and practiced about 4-7 hours a day for a week.

0

When a piano student is making heavy weather of acquiring basic dexterity, I sometimes compare it to typing - a skill that ANYONE can learn. Or, now, to playing a computer game! Other in helping to overcome an 'But it's TOO HARD!' blockage, I don't see a lot of relevance. But your typing skills won't hurt your piano playing. Let's not be unhelpful enough to suggest reasons why they vanishingly vaguely possibly might conflict.

-2

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).

  • 1
    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

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.