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I am about to buy my first keyboard and I have a lot questions about how to get started. A lot of the tutorials seem like they are based in classical music and this isn't really my taste. Should I try and find genre specific tutorials while learning the basics at the same time? Also what keyboard should I get? And how important are weighted keys if I the most serious I'll ever get it is small recordings for enjoyment? Consider a budget less than $250.

  • While I agree wholeheartedly with user37496 that learning the basics is essential, Bill Hilton has a Jazz tutorial series which focuses on playing something "jazzy" very quickly. It's a great way to stay excited about music while you're also practicing the basics as suggested in the answer below. Every bit of theory you learn will increase your understanding and appreciation of those tutorials (and any other piece of music or improv). – jpaugh Sep 30 '17 at 8:16
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    @jpaugh This is a great point that I'd like to put an even finer point on. Whatever book/tutorial you start with for the basics, don't assume you have to master it before touching anything else. For example if you learn a couple chords from your book/tutorial then you could always then go to YouTube or wherever and learn to something else to pair with those chords like playing some simple blues lines with your right hand while practicing the chords with your left. Definitely use other sources to supplement your primary source. – user37496 Sep 30 '17 at 14:57
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Learn the basics and don't worry if it seems geared toward classical just yet because the basics are the same either way. Learn things like:

  • the notes
  • how to read music
  • basic chords
  • scales and fingerings
  • etc.

And anything past that, classical-oriented or not, isn't going to hurt you. But, yes, at some point you'll want to also look into genre specific theory and material. I'd start with blues. The progression from blues to jazz is very natural. And while funk is all about the rhythm, much of the theory from jazz and blues will be useful for it.

As for gear, (specific) recommendations are off-topic here. So while asking whether you need weighted keys is fine, this isn't really the place to ask which model to buy.

For jazz, blues, and funk you'll probably want at least semi-weighted keys if not fully weighted. What you get with weighted keys is more control over your dynamics. With more weight you can still play loud by using more force, but the extra weight makes it easier to play softly. And dynamics are definitely important for those genres and, really, anything where you'll be using real piano sounds (and not just synths).

  • The problem is that even "how to read music" has important differences between classical and jazz. In classical music, almost every single note is notated on the sheet music. The 3 most prominent exceptions I can think of for this are Baroque figured bass, Baroque optional improvised ornaments, and the expected-to-be-improvised cadenzas in concertos. In jazz, you are much more likely to be reading lead sheets (where you need to intuit the left hand from the chord name and melody). – Dekkadeci Sep 30 '17 at 14:17
  • @Dekkadeci The basics are the same. I'm talking about a beginner method that shows things like the clefs, simple melodies, major scales, I IV V triads, etc. Those things are applicable no matter what music you end up playing. And there's nothing magical about jazz lead sheets. It's just a treble clef for the melody—sometimes the bass is included for particularly prominent bass parts—and some chord symbols. But OP can learn that when they get that far. Either way you still need to know how to read both clefs in at least the basic manner that a beginner book would teach. – user37496 Sep 30 '17 at 14:46

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