guitar lessons

Piano & Keyboard Resources

Piano Resources

On this page you will find required materials for lessons on piano and keyboard here at Promethean Studios and various other resources for the piano as well. The resources on this page are specifically for the piano/keyboard, more generic resources (music stores, recording studios, etc) are listed here. At the time this information was entered, all links worked and products listed were available. For information purposes only; we won't post resources when we know there might be any sort of problem with a product, business, or person listed but please check out the reliability, appropriateness, and reputation of any resource you plan to use. If you have any additional questions, please ask your teacher or email us at students@dallasmusiclessons.com.


Please have these for your Lessons:

An piano or keyboard in fair condition (suggestions and details below). I can advise you on the suitability of specific instruments. Leave it home.

Sustain pedal (suggestions and details below). For keyboards, available at Best Buy. Leave it home.

Keyboard stand (suggestions and details below). For keyboards, available at Best Buy. Leave it home.

Beginning Piano for Adults - James Bastien (GP 23), details below. Available at Amazon. Bring it.

3 ring binder with loose-leaf paper and pockets for holding handouts. Yes, really. Bring it.

Pencil. Erasable, colored pencils are best. Bring it.

Manuscript paper (music paper, staff paper). Hover over the resources tab of Dallas Music Lessons, select Music and Tab paper and print 5 sheets of ‘medium music paper, treble clef only’, bring them to your lesson. Feel free to download any of the other types of music paper you want and your friends can, too. For assignments and written exercises. Bring it.

5 GB flash drive or larger. (suggestions and details below). Bring it.

Download Audacity (optional) – details below. Leave it home.

Metronome or Drum machine (suggestions and details below). Leave your metronome at home.

Sheet music for 5 pieces. Hover over the resources tab of Dallas Music Lessons, click SONGS, and look through the songs there – if you like some, download them and print them out. This list grows weekly and the great advantage of using the songs here is that the charts are pretty accurate and easy to follow. If you don’t see songs you like here, find music for 5 songs of your choice. See below for guidelines on choosing music. Bring it.


More details and resources:

An piano in fair condition (suggestions and details below). I can advise you on the suitability of specific instruments. You can begin lessons with a basic 61 key keyboard available at most music stores. However, students should plan on getting a fully weighted, 88 key keyboard or piano as soon as possible. Always get the best instrument you can reasonably afford.

Most students start on a 61 key electronic keyboard.

Pianos - See below, “Selecting a piano” for details on selecting a piano.

Console size or larger, used or new. $2000 to 7000.

Top acoustic pianos: Bosendorfer, Steinway, Mason and Hamlin, and Yamaha are long-term favorites with classical pianists and a top acoustic piano will cost $ 8000 (upright) to $150000.

Keyboards - see ‘More piano and Keyboard resources’ below for details on selecting a keyboard.

Beginning keyboard: 61 keys. $150 to 250.

Intermediate keyboard: 76-88 keys. This intermediate keyboard should have piano-weighted keys if possible. $1000 to 2000.

Top keyboards: 76-88 keys. Korg, Kurzweil, Nord, Roland, and Yamaha are long-term favorites with keyboard players and a top keyboard will cost $2000-$5000.

Sustain pedals. Students playing keyboards must have a sustain pedal to develop proper technique. You’ll play incorrectly if you don’t have one. Sustain pedals cost between $10 and $25 and are available at Best Buy.

Keyboard stand. Put your keyboard on a stand so you can adjust the height, hold your music, and so the keyboard doesn’t move around. Keyboard stands cost between $25 and $50 and are available at Best Buy.

Beginning Piano for Adults - James Bastien (GP 23). $15 – 30. Get the spiral bound version. This book is the beginning focus for classical study and note reading in the lessons. This is a big, red book.

Pencil. Musicians write with pencils because they make changes to their music and make frequent notations on the pages. Erasable, colored pencils are best.

5 GB flash drive (or larger). To record your lesson. Bring this to your lesson. When you begin each lesson, give your flash drive to your teacher and they'll record your lessons. Be sure and take the drive with you when you leave and listen to it in your computer the day of or the day after your lesson. This will give you a way to review the lesson and give me a way to send demonstrations of technique or songs home with you. If you'll review your lesson each week, you'll progress about 5 to 10% faster.

Audacity. Also, if you'd like to get a even more out of some of your own practices, go back to www.dallasmusiclessons.com, this time actually click the Resources tab, go down to ‘recording and editing’ and download Audacity, a free computer-based recording program. It does many great things to help you practice; people even make professional albums with it. You can change the pitch of your song, record yourself, record yourself playing with your song, or isolate sections of songs for practice. Many good things.

Metronome. Leave your metronome at home, but you need it to practice. Apps for iphone – Tempo Advance is the best - $4. For Android, Tempo - $2. Standalone metronomes: Planet Waves PW-MT-02 ($15), Korg MA-1 ($20-25). Use the metronome whenever possible. It will develop your sense of rhythm and counting; equally important, it will show you where you should be practicing. If you follow the beat from the metronome in songs and exercises, the areas where you don't do well will be revealed, and you'll know where to spend extra practice time. The metronome is your drummer.

When you’re having trouble getting into the metronome, use a drum machine. For iphone, use Garage Band, for Android use Drummer Friend - $3. Standalone drum machine: Boss DB-60. And a little home keyboard with rhythms and metronomic markings works well, too.

Students who practice with metronomes or rhythm machines will also progress about 5 to 10 percent faster.

Sheet music for 5 pieces. Most piano and keyboard students at Promethean Studios are working on two types of piano pieces at once: what we call a note piece and a rhythm piece. Note pieces are usually the traditional classical piece where to succeed in the piece you must read and play the notes correctly. Any style of music can be written as a "note piece", but classical pieces are the most common choice. Rhythm pieces are how the pianists and keyboardists play in all your favorite groups, rock, country, blues, pop - by reading the CHORDS and supplying an appropriate rhythm that matches the style of the song. From there the pianist or keyboardist can supply a melody (usually in the right hand) or supply that melody with his or her own voice or another instrument or vocalist can supply the melody.

Note pieces:to be purchased as recommended.

Rhythm pieces: Hover over the resources tab of Dallas Music Lessons, click SONGS, and look through the songs there – if you like some, download them and print them out. This list grows weekly and the great advantage of using the songs here is that the charts are pretty accurate and easy to follow. If you don’t see songs you like here, find music for 5 songs of your choice, within these guide lines: 1) No songs where violence, drugs, cursing, or sex figure largely, 2) No songs where what you like about the song is how super hard it is – for now. Just pick songs you think are cool.

Be careful not to get instructional material (for songs). You will work through 1-2 songs per month, and will need to keep a steady supply of cool songs available, as we learn the old ones. If you have recordings of these songs, that's great and very useful, but not required.

Harvard Brief Dictionary of Music. Recommended, but not required. Definitions for many useful musical terms are found here.


More piano and Keyboard resources:

Keyboard Repair:

Audio Electronics, Dallas. 10870 Plano Rd., Suite C, Dallas TX 75238. 214/349-5000 or 800/466-2372. http://www.audioelectronics.com.

Terry Slemmons – 214-747-1090, 3003 Commerce Street, Dallas, TX 75226. service@slemmons.com. Licensed warranty repair for most.

Piano, tuning:

Ty Ramsey - tyramsey@verizon.net, www.tyramsey.com.

Digital Pianos

Here are some advantages of digital pianos:

Portability

Doesn't need to be tuned

Lower price

Various brands and models offer helpful features, such as: software that actually teaches you to play a transposition (changing a song to a higher or lower key at the touch of a button -- especially helpful for singers o a choice of several different instrument sounds.

There are also disadvantages to digital pianos. Although a good digital piano closely approximates the touch and tone of an acoustic piano, it doesn't sound and feel exactly the same. Because the keys don't actually strike strings, they are weighted to make them feel and respond similarly to acoustic piano keys. When you compare digital pianos, look for the one that feels to the touch as close as possible to the feel of an acoustic piano. This will enable you or your child to develop proper hand musculature and playing skills.

Since the digital piano produces sounds electronically rather than physically, the quality of the sounds depends upon the technology used to synthesize the sounds and upon the quality of the speakers. Try many different brands and models, comparing the sound quality. Think about which ones sound the closest to an acoustic piano, and which ones sound the most pleasing to your own ear.

SELECTING A PIANO:

Pianos are either horizontal (grand) or vertical (such as an upright). Both of these orientations come in many different sizes. Choose which size is best for you, based on these descriptions.

Vertical

Upright -- 49" to 52" tall

The upright is the tallest vertical piano, with a soundboard and string length comparable to that of a small grand. It is second only to the grands in tone quality and is often found in professional studios and schools.

Studio -- 45" to 48" tall

The soundboard and string lengths are comparable to a very small grand. Studio pianos are often found in homes and schools.

Console -- 40" to 43" tall

Consoles may have drop action or "direct blow action," the more desirable choice. If you're shopping for a console piano, look for one with direct blow action.

Spinet -- 35" to 39" tall

The smallest type of piano, the spinet employs "drop action" which describes the angle of the hammers in relation to the strings. The drop action and the shortness of the strings and soundboard make this the least desirable size of piano.

Horizontal (Grand Pianos)

Grand 7' to 9' long

This size is usually found in concert halls, theaters, recording studios and auditoriums.

Grand 6' to 7' long

This size is common in teaching studios.

Grand 5'6" to 6' long

Better tone quality that a smaller grand. This size is common in homes.

Grand under 5' long

Some tone quality is sacrificed in these smallest grands.

Another factor to keep in mind when choosing a piano is the size of the room you're going to put it in. Acoustically, a grand piano in a home sounds best if it's about 1/4 the size of the room. Of course, if you're serious about getting a piano with superior power and tone quality, and you don't have a very large room to put it in, it's better to crowd the room with a bigger piano than to sacrifice sound quality.

The size and type of a piano affect how you will move it from one place to another. When the piano is delivered to your home, and, if you later move it to a different home, piano movers will need to be able to fit the piano through a door. (In the case of a grand piano, the legs are removed for moving.) If the piano has to travel up or down steps at your home, there may be an extra moving charge for the extra work. If you want your piano to be placed on an upper floor, it will probably have to be lifted by a crane and put in through a window. If you live on an upper floor and don't want the trouble and expense of a crane delivery, perhaps you should consider a digital piano.

Style

It's wonderful to find a piano that fits in with the decor of your home, but please don't compromise on the quality or craftsmanship or on the tone or touch that you want just to get a piano that looks a certain way on the outside. If you want the case (the outside of the piano) to be a certain color of wood, you can probably find that color in a good quality piano.

If you visit a piano showroom and find an instrument that you like, but want in a different color, please don't just buy that same model in a different color without trying it out first. No two pianos sound or play exactly alike, and you might find that the one you ordered in you chosen color didn't have the same touch or tone that you liked so much in the one you tried in the store. Insist on playing and examining the exact piano that you're going to buy before making a commitment

Used pianos

Check a used piano carefully for structural or mechanical problems:

Inspect the soundboard (the really big board that the strings are strung across) for cracks.

Play every key to see if any of them stick, buzz, rattle, or just don't sound at all.

Try out each pedal, making sure that they don't stick or make a noise. (Hold down the right pedal and play a few notes. They should keep on sounding after you let go of the keys. Hold down the left pedal and play a few notes. They should sound noticeably softer than they do without that pedal.)

Check the felt on the hammers (where the hammers contact the strings). The felts should not be hard, deeply grooved, or missing.

Parts and materials:

Avoid pianos that have any plastic parts. Pianos with plastic parts don't sound as good as better-made pianos, and they will wear out or break sooner.

The case should be made of veneered wood, not plywood, hardboard or compressed sawdust.

The pedals should work smoothly and silently. A piano with 3 pedals is not necessarily better than one with 2. A piano only needs a sustain (right) pedal and a soft (left) pedal. If there is a middle pedal, it may sustain selected notes, sustain the bass only, or mute the entire piano for quiet practicing.

The piano should have 3 strings per key for the higher notes and 2 strings per key for most of the lower notes.

The keys should all work! Make sure that none of them stick down after playing, and that no note makes a rattling or buzzing noise.

Hand-made or mass-produced - Hand-made pianos sound better and last longer.

Manufacturer's warranty - A manufacturer that makes a good-quality piano will stand behind their product. Make sure your new piano comes with a warranty.

Resale value - Find out how much a particular brand will be worth in a few years if you decide to sell it or to trade it in for a better instrument. Some pianos actually increase in value with age. Others become practically worthless with just a little wear. Find out which brands make a smart investment.

Most used pianos need some amount of repair work. If you're serious about buying a used piano, have a qualified piano technician inspect it and give you an objective estimate of how much the repairs will cost, and whether the piano is even worth putting that much money into. The world is full of sad old pianos that have been neglected for so long that the repairs they need would cost more than they'd be worth afterwards.

from M. Steinert & Sons website: Choosing a piano.

Contact Us to Begin Your Musical Journey!