Recently, I have started playing the piano, but I don't know where to start. I have experience playing the guitar and have 7 years of choir experience: 3 years in middle school and 4 in highshool (3 years in the school's top choir). I already know basics such as rhythm, sight reading, etc.

Based on this, what would be a good way to start piano playing? (I’m also new here so if this post doesn’t belong I’m sorry)

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    Do you know where you want to go to? A certain piece or type of piano music you are interested in? And do you plan to hire a teacher? – Arsak Apr 9 '18 at 18:53
  • I want to become adept at piano playing. Where I can pick up a piece and slowly learn it and play it well (I know it’ll take a lot of time to build up the skill necessary for piano). As for a piece, I was inspired by Kreisler-Rachmaninoff Liebesleid. And I am planning on hiring a teacher. – Aaron Gil Apr 9 '18 at 19:11
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    As always, the best way to start is to find a good teacher. – Todd Wilcox Apr 9 '18 at 19:21

It depends what your endgame is. Since you are already musical and have much musical experience, you already have a lot "within you."

If you want to become an accomplished pianist, I would suggest before ever touching a key, find a good teacher to teach you a solid ergonomic technique. There are proper muscles, bones and fulcrums to use in order to play prodigiously and there are many paths to that end, however, there are ten or so movements NOT to do which many teachers are unaware of.

For instance, you don't have five fingers but, you have one hand and the hand can only go in one direction at a time. When we isolate our fingers, it pulls the hand in several directions and this is the cause for uneven playing, lack of power, incoordination, mistakes, fatigue, cramps, tendonitis leading to median nerve entrapment (AKA Carpal Tunnel Syndrome). Also, it is the arm that places the hand, the hand doesn't drag the arm behind it. Again, this causes technical problems and missed notes. A good example of this is when you walk, your foot (or toes) doesn't drag the leg, the leg places the foot. Like walking up stairs, your leg moving forward ascends higher than the next step then straight down onto it, it doesn't stretch to reach the upper step. The piano is the same. Likewise, every motion has an equal and opposite motion. When we walk forward, our passive foot is actually pushing backward, propelling us forward. The piano is down thus, we must learn to play up.

Teachers who teach their students to build strength and endurance, IMO, don't know what they are doing and can eventually injure their students. 99% of technique comes from the arm and, the flexor muscles (the muscles that move your fingers since your fingers have no muscles) are just 1% of actual playing. Many teachers force their students to play the opposite but mostly out of ignorance of physics, biology and ergonomics.

The difference is virtuosity or mediocrity, even among professionals. Once a bad habit, such as abducting the fingers, becomes hardwired into the brain, where true technique is, it is very difficult to undo that habit. When I get a brand spanking new student, we spend one to three weeks simply training the brain in arm weight or gravity. At the same time though, before lecturing, I surreptitiously sneak in in/out and up/down movement. Then, by the time I lecture on wrist position (or what not to do with the wrist) and using pronator and supinator muscles to facilitate arm direction, these movements are already hardwired in the brain.

There are many methods which passively "teach" this without the lecture part where the student just imitates movement and motion of the arm and hand and the student absorbs proper movement without knowledge behind or underneath the mechanics of the movement. I'd rather teach the physics behind the movement so when a student encounters a technical challenge, they can figure out what movement is getting in the way or is lacking. This eliminates the need for hours of mindless practice hoping the student stumbles upon the correct combinations of movements. I would analogy this to giving you with detailed directions to Grandmother's house as opposed to pointing at the woods and saying "She lives over there someplace." Or a surgeon who has years of schooling and hundreds of hours of observation before they are allowed to cut open a body on their own.

An example of this is last night I was playing "Flight of the Bumblebee" and missed a pattern. I easily realized that on one single note, my arm had to change direction so the next grouping of notes could continue the downward progression. Some teachers would have said "Practice more" or "You need strength and endurance" or "relax." Relax what?

Fingers don't need to be beat into submission, only set free. Like house breaking a puppy, you can either wipe its nose in its own mess, yell at it and throw it outside, or, invite a trained dog over and that dog will teach it where to go in less than an hour.

So, you can have a teacher who says "practice more" or one who tells you what muscle to use (or not use) so you don't have to practice. Avoid rote and strive for knowledge. The difference is independence versus interdependence.

Avoid techniques and exercise books. The laws of physics are all you need and will prepare you for every musical challenge. Hanon has done more for mediocrity than anything else.

Now, if you've previously been touching a piano, chances are you've already developed bad habits which need to be eradicated. Or not. It depends what your endgame is.

Many teachers may disagree with me because they only know what they know and not what they don't know. You know? There are many paths. Our teachers are not always right, especially if their's wasn't.

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I agree about getting a teacher. It's always best to begin with the basics right, such as hand position, body position, finger shape, etc., rather than have to undo things and relearn them later on. Also, you will need a beginners' book. You can either wait until you have a teacher to decide which book to get, or you can go into a music store and the staff would be able to help you pick out a good book.

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  • Since OP says they will be getting a teacher, they should probably talk with the teacher before buying a book. – ex nihilo Apr 10 '18 at 10:36

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