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Last year, at 35, I started learning to play the piano from absolute beginner level by attending private classes once per week.

The teacher mixed practice with music theory and learning Solfeggio (I'm meaning sight reading the notes from a music sheet).

Currently, and for work reasons, I spend 5 days a week overseas and I can't play the piano at all while I'm there as I don't have a permanent residence where I'd put a cheap digital piano.

My question is whether you have ideas or advice on how I could still use some time while I'm abroad to keep learning more about music theory and other useful knowledge that I could later apply to the piano in the future. Furthermore from not forgetting the knowledge I already had.

I accept any idea: books, software, websites, mobile apps, ...

If it helps, I'm from Europe so I'm learning with what I believe is called Fixed-Do.

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I don't know if this could help but when I shifted to the guitar as a primary instrument but still wanted a piano-layout to work on harmony, I got a MIDI controller keyboard that pretty much worked for me out of the box. Granted, it is not great for building technique, but having a portable MIDI keyboard like the CME X-key which you could carry around in a standard laptop case could help practice when you're on the move or away from a real piano. I use Sampletank 3 with my controller and am very satisfied with the sound. You could work on understanding the sounds of diatonic chords in all 12 major scales, play simple melodies with chords and transpose them to different keys, or even work on something easy and rewarding like learning the blues scale. This is not a substitute for practice on a real piano, but this is the least I can think of considering your situation. Happy playing!

  • Thanks, I had no idea that there were MIDI keyboards as small as this one. Are the keys similar in size to a real piano? – Mario Feb 28 '16 at 15:24
  • I actually went for a 37 key controller, as I can leave it in the office during the weekend, so I didn't need it to be extra portable. But semiprime you gave me the idea! – Mario Feb 29 '16 at 16:53
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    I use a 49 key Roland A-49 and it pretty much works fine for me but it does take me quite a long time to move to a fully weighted keyboard after weeks of only playing on soft keys. You could check out videos of Jordan Rudess going crazy on an X-key so it's certainly not impossible to learn a considerable amount from playing on it. – semiprime Mar 7 '16 at 7:58
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Sight-singing or a miniature keyboard might help you to continue to practise sight-reading. Theory books and exercises will definitely help with theory, but specific resource recommendations are out-of-scope here. If you are working towards taking a music conservatory exam or anything like that, it would probably make sense to work through their books or at least look into the topics in their syllabus.

As far as actual playing goes I don't think you have too many options. You could use a grip strength exercise tool to help maintain finger strength, though.

  • Thanks. No, no conservatory or exam. I want to fulfill a long-time desire, to be able to play the songs I like from the music sheet. Of course my aim to achieve that is not in short term but more in 5-10 years, if I can keep improving on it. In any case, if you would have any theory resource in mind, don't hesitate to mention. – Mario Feb 28 '16 at 15:27

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