Customer Reviews


27 Reviews
5 star:
 (19)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. Badly needs updated example songs.
I won't belabor the point that this is an excellent book. Completely readable. I checked it out from the library a few years back and didn't quite finish it - too bad, because the chord progression stuff at the end was terrific.
However, I have to say that the examples simply must be updated for this book to achieve what it sets out to achieve: teach people to make...
Published on Aug. 1 2002 by E. Anderson

versus
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT "How to play..."
A useful book if you want to learn how to play keyboard from a "fake book" (meaning: not with a grand staff notation, but with the melody in G-staff and chord letters). But beware, there's also a lot of nonsense... It all starts with how to play a "skeleton" in 4/4 or 3/4, with the left hand playing chords, and alternating the bass in root and fifth in OCTAVES. Now this...
Published on Oct. 29 2002


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT "How to play...", Oct. 29 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Play the Piano Despite Years of Lessons: What Music Is and How to Make It at Home (Paperback)
A useful book if you want to learn how to play keyboard from a "fake book" (meaning: not with a grand staff notation, but with the melody in G-staff and chord letters). But beware, there's also a lot of nonsense... It all starts with how to play a "skeleton" in 4/4 or 3/4, with the left hand playing chords, and alternating the bass in root and fifth in OCTAVES. Now this doesn't sound very pleasant, and it's also difficult to do except on an full 88-key piano. Next, the message is that you always have to play four note chords (7ths and 6ths) instead of the three note majors and minors. This is all right if you only play the old, jazzy "standards", which are the kind of songs that are considered popular music in this book (why are these old songs standard? Personally I like them, but how many people know them? Anyone under eighty humming 'Some Enchanted Evening' these days?) but those 7ths and 6ths can sound downright ugly if you play the not-at-all-jazzy pop from the sixties up to now. Furthermore, the author makes its sound like there's nothing to it: playing 10th chords? Only children can't do it! Yeah, right. Try and play any stretched-out 10th with one hand and practice all you want, if you can't do it the first time you won't be able to do it ever, except maybe in a excruciatingly slow piece (maybe C major won't daunt you, but try Eb major, for example). Furthermore this book pretends that music is for morons and that you can learn to play anything with a few weeks of practice--it generally underestimates the technical (fingering) difficulty of what is presented. This is misleading and can be discouraging, because it IS difficult (for anyone with a day job). On the other hand, a lot is learned just by reading this book. But then again, maybe you'll learn a lot more from a traditional piano teacher, representing everything that is ridiculed in this book (playing scales, learning how to use your fingers...). Playing the piano "on sight" from a fake book can be very difficult, don't kid yourself, it takes years to do it well, just like anything worthwile. Conclusion: at times very instructional and a nice addition to your music library, but definitely not the book to start out with after buying a keyboard.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. Badly needs updated example songs., Aug. 1 2002
By 
E. Anderson (Bend, OR USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: How to Play the Piano Despite Years of Lessons: What Music Is and How to Make It at Home (Paperback)
I won't belabor the point that this is an excellent book. Completely readable. I checked it out from the library a few years back and didn't quite finish it - too bad, because the chord progression stuff at the end was terrific.
However, I have to say that the examples simply must be updated for this book to achieve what it sets out to achieve: teach people to make music while using examples with which they are very familiar. I am 38 years old, and I am maybe slightly familiar with 10% of the "popular" music used for illustration. What are youngsters going to think?
Another reviewer made the point that I can simply download the mp3 files and become familiar with these "standards". True, but thats hard to do on an airplane, train, bathroom, etc. Plus it may be illegal, which is a bad dependency for a book to have. This also applies to the user who said I could plunk the notes out on the keyboard: true again, but it requires having my piano in the car.
Because its a great book we are all willing to make excuses for the examples, but there really isn't an excuse - this book should be revised.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read for a beginner, Jan. 21 2004
By 
John S. Buchmann (West Chester, pa United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: How to Play the Piano Despite Years of Lessons: What Music Is and How to Make It at Home (Paperback)
I am a total beginner when it comes to playing the piano, so I found this book very hard to read. I think it assumes a certain level of knowledge on the reader. However, I did understand alot of it because I read basic piano theory from the book called "Play Piano in a Flash". That book was over simplified, but it taught me enough to understand alot of this book.
There are some major problems that I found with this book. First, all the diagrams are hand-drawn. I found it very distracting to read notes that are hand-drawn... sometimes very sloppily. And many of the weird piano symbols are hard to make out because of the sloppiness. The book was written in the 1970's so that helps explain why it's hand-drawn instead of a nice sharp computerized graphic.
I also found that the explanations of the diagrams were not good. Some chord notes that were drawn didn't seem to be in the right place... either there are lots of mistakes, or i'm just not understanding things. This added to the frustration.
The sample songs are just not familiar to me. Maybe if you're 50+ years old you would know the songs, but not if you're younger!
I actually did learn things in this book... that is why i gave it 2 stars.
Maybe I would like this book better if I alreay had lots of piano experience. I don't know. I'm totally frustrated with this book. I'm going to buy a similar book called "How to play from a Fake book". Hopefully that will be better for me.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars very useful and unique for those who know a little piano, Jan. 16 2004
By 
J. Chang - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: How to Play the Piano Despite Years of Lessons: What Music Is and How to Make It at Home (Paperback)
This book is the most unique and pragmatic approach to learning piano I've ever seen. I had a few years of formal/classical piano lessons when I was young and forgot almost everything. But it felt like this book was written with people like me in mind. I'm still in the middle of reading the book, and it's already opened my eyes to how music in general is put together. It demystifies what I've seen a lot of classical composers do while also giving me confidence to go ahead and start making music on my own.
The only criticism that I have about this book is that the music samples are really old. It was published back in the 70's and uses pieces that are copyrighted anywhere between the 1920's to 1950's. So if you want to try out some of the techniques that this book talks about, you should have some idea of what types of songs you'd like to try out on your own (unless you're familiar with the samples of music in the book). I personally was interested in learning church praise songs on piano and had my own resources of songs (w/ chords) to choose from, so this book worked out for me.
Also, if you're interested in really understanding music theory, don't let this be your only book. It's a good start, but there are better books out there for that (or even free web sites where you can learn that stuff).
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars This is actually a cookbook, July 16 2003
By 
Photoguy (United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How to Play the Piano Despite Years of Lessons: What Music Is and How to Make It at Home (Paperback)
Many of those who have reviewed this book here mention that it is a book on music theory. Yes there is some theory in this book and some of it is hard to find in other beginning piano books. I find the section on harmonic progression particularly enlightening. But rather than a book on theory, this is a cookbook with recipes for creating full sounding music out the vocal lines of sheet music, lead sheets, and "fake books".
One criticism I have seen of this book is that the style of playing is only suitable for playing old standards, like those by Cole Porter or Rogers and Hart. This is partially true, but if you enjoy the kind of music that is the background in so many movies, particularly Woody Allen films, this book is a gold mine.
If you have taken lessons, you will find it fairly easy to pick up on the method here, even if you can't sit down an play anything right now. A lot of it will come back quickly. If you are a rank beginner, this will be a lot of work. Even so, if you put the effort in learning this method that you would put into getting through an adult beginning piano book, you will come away with so much more. That said, I will recommend that you also invest in a beginning piano book and work through that at the same time.
There is, or was, a companion VHS video for the book. It is extremely entertaining and allows you to see and hear examples of the methods taught in the book. It is about two hours long and very well done. I haven't seen it around lately, but if you get this book, try to find the video also. Same title as the book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Very different..., May 21 2003
This review is from: How to Play the Piano Despite Years of Lessons: What Music Is and How to Make It at Home (Paperback)
Being a person that fits the title rather well, I was browsing through amazon for some good books to get started playing piano/keyboard again. Since I didn't know what to get, I ordered a bunch of them (I looked at my local music store, but they carried mostly classical sheet music and guitar stuff).
If judged as a textbook, it certainly doesn't deserve 5 stars. You will want another book. What it does deserve the high rating for, is that it helps unmystify so many seemingly difficult things, and in the process helped me remove so many roadblocks, that I now just want to sit down at the piano and have fun. After reading it in one long session, I could sit down at the piano, and start reharmonizing simple children tunes I played by ear, adding fancy cocktail-piano type arrangement (and I only knew how to pick the melody before I got the book).
If that's not impressive, I don't know what is. Earlier I used to think chords were mostly set in stone, except for jazz musicians, but they are too clever for their own good, so that doesn't apply to me. Ok, it still doesn't sound fantastic, they are still simple children tunes, and since my playing sucks, I have to practice a lot to get to the point where someone would want to listen, but it's a start! And since I can now have fun doing it, I chances are that I will start to get better at it.
For what it is, the book gave me a lot of new ideas, and a lot of ideas for what to start practicing. But don't start with this book alone, get another (more boring) book, to teach you all the boring stuff. This, however, is the book that will set you free, and make practicing the piano fun again! Take the book as a light supplement to whatever else you read and practice with, and I'll guarantee you that you'll be positively surprised.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Get. This. Book. NOW..., May 25 2002
By 
Atomic Grrrrrl (Brooklyn, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How to Play the Piano Despite Years of Lessons: What Music Is and How to Make It at Home (Paperback)
There are some books that are so good, that you can't help but sound like a brainless, gushing idiot when praising them. This book is one of them.
Now what's the secret of How to Play Piano Despite Years of Lessons? Why does it get so many rave reviews here at Amazon and other places? Because it works. And it works by completely demystifying the music-making process in a completely irreverent and casual style, in stark contrast to the humorless, frowning, and stern music teachers we all may have had once or twice in our lives. In other words, it takes the mystery out of making music and says, "Hey-- don't sweat it. You can do it. It's not as hard or tedious or agonizing as you think-- honest. Don't listen to all those shnooks who made you feel that it was all esoteric and as hard to crack as the Rosetta Stone." This approach is perfect for those who were always the type who felt that playing instruments was only the property of the Talented Few, or that they were so hopelessly inept that they could never hope to understand how music works. If read, it will quickly dispell these feelings of ineptitude by the 2nd chapter. Trust me-- by the time you are halfway through the book, even if you skim through it, you will have gained more musical know-how than the average piano student who is forced to do scales over and over again to the dead tick tick tick of a metronome. Even better, you will find musical instruments suddenly being "opened" to you as if you had been given a magical key to unlock them. An example of this is with my learning the guitar. I had originally picked up this book to learn piano. But out of curiousity I also started picking up the guitar and found, to my surprise, that I found it easy to learn precisely because of what I had learned in this book. So, yes, folks, this book is that good. No matter what instrument you are trying to learn-- guitar, piano, flute, what-have-you, it is imperative that you pick this one up. It will give you a solid grounding in music theory and a feeling of greater musical competence. You can't go wrong with this one. Five stars from me.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Great all-around musical theory book, April 4 2002
By 
"bjs53" (SYDNEY, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How to Play the Piano Despite Years of Lessons: What Music Is and How to Make It at Home (Paperback)
This is simply a wonderful book. It is marvelous instruction material no matter what instrument you intend to play (guitar in my case, not piano). Even if you have no intention of learning to play any musical instrument, it is good instruction about musical theory generally - in simple to understand terms, comprehensible to the non-cognoscenti.
I am 48, with no previous musical education or experience. Decided to take up the guitar about a month ago. Realized I needed to learn something about musical theory. Noticed the comments on this book (here on Amazon) & decided to buy a copy. Doubtless the best investment in musical theory education I could have made. Now I understand the different components that go to make up music - I understand the make-up of the orchestra - and the rock band - the functional roles that the different instruments are performing in relation to the music as a whole.

This is a well written, well organized, simple to understand explanation of essential musical concepts - a book of much broader usefulness than its quirky title would suggest.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars De-mystifies without trivializing, Feb. 28 2002
By 
"jplortie" (Montreal, Quebec Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How to Play the Piano Despite Years of Lessons: What Music Is and How to Make It at Home (Paperback)
As I read this book I was amazed at how many things I learned. I am coming back to learning the piano and I already know the basics. But I already knew that there is a big difference between making music and following a partition. I just didn't know how much. This book opened me a whole new world. I take those score sheets and I can actually do something interesting with them.
At the same time, I became angry at my old piano teachers who kept those "secrets" from me (Do your scales, don't ask questions, they're good for you). I realize that understanding music was more important than just "touch-typing" partitions.
Of course, you won't be able to start making counter-point music after having read this book, but this wasn't my goal, anyways.
I also wish that they had more "exercises" as the book progresses. The score sheets at the end are nice, but it would have been nice to give more actual practices along the book's content instead of just giving illustrations.
Great book!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Lucid and sturdy foundation to making music, May 6 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Play the Piano Despite Years of Lessons: What Music Is and How to Make It at Home (Paperback)
For what it is, *How to Play the Piano Despite Years of Lessons* is an excellent book in priming anyone to begin the music-making process. The greatest help it provides is in not frightening beginners at the outset with so much dry technical jargon about chords and their inherent value in different inversions, scales, modes, and such things. The logic of building on what has been learned in a previous chapter is possibly the most sound of all beginning music books. And the authors encourage the readers to hear music as it should be heard--that whatever sounds good is good--something very in tune with such great innovative classical artists as Glenn Gould, John Cage, Varese, even Landowska, etc. A few flaws, however, may be counterproductive to those readers who are not careful at reading behind the humorous tone of the authors. For instance, the lessons on counterpoint are not only skimpy, but are announced by the authors as being only so simple. Those learning from this book and only from this book will probably not understand a Bach Invention any time soon, not with trying to manage altered *arpeggios* as counter-melodies. The songs referred to are quite often too old, and despite what the authors say about their familiarity in our culture, I'm afraid that many of these show tunes are not; therefore, the authors' plan to have us alter familiar songs to hear the effects of different arrangements will be lost on many. Those who are big fans of musicals or classical music will have quite an advantage over many readers who are not well studied in those genres. The minor mode was barely touched upon, to save confusion, I suppose, but it is a huge development in Western music that it should have been run through with more pages. The word *overtone* was never defined; however, it is used a number of times. The authors do hint, though, that the lessons in this book are only the beginning, and I suspect that they will want their readers to go on to study a bit more formally on harmonic progressions, knowing scales, modes, and such technicalities. Overall, they have done an immeasureable service through this book by not only helping us understand more clearly and simply the inner workings of past music, but by reminding us that we should learn to make music with our ears in place of learning an instrument only.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

How to Play the Piano Despite Years of Lessons: What Music Is and How to Make It at Home
CDN$ 24.67 CDN$ 15.81
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews