Returning to the Piano

Question: Hello Albert,

I studied piano for five years, and the course was focused on jazz, blues, bossa nova, and other Brazilian styles. These styles are quite different from classical since there’s not much to read; it’s more a matter of rhythm, “swing” and improvisation. For that I have fairly deep theoretical knowledge of harmony.

But I quit playing for some years and now I’m really rusty. I want to get back to piano practice, so I would like to ask your opinion. Should I concentrate only on scales and chords first? Should I try some Hanon? Or take a piece of music and do exercises based on its chords and theme?

Congratulations on the great site. Your site and your vision of what music is and how it should be treated had great influence in my decision of coming back to studies. If I knew the treatment would be so personal and friendly, I would not have signed up as DNF–01 instead of a real name.

Many thanks.

– Diego (Brazil)

Albert’s reply: Diego, thanks very much for your kind words; they’re sincerely appreciated. To answer your question, it’s important that you’re always working on a piece of music. Depending on how much practice time you have on a given day, I recommend starting with exercises such as scales, and piano exercises such as Hanon, assuming you play them with different touches, transpose the patterns into different keys and don’t consider “technique” as something apart from music. Then dedicate time to learning or improving a piece of music. If you’re really short of time on a given day, you can do one or the other.

Doing exercises on a theme and its underlying harmonies is wonderful work. You can improvise variations on a theme, or transpose it into different keys. This is all very good for your musicianship, ear training and knowledge of piano theory!

P.S. I recently switched to a new email management system, which is considered the best in the industry. There’s a link at the bottom of every email from key-notes with which you can update your subscription information (name and email address). 😉

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