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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

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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


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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.
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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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Music is a tough nut to crack....this is THE NUTCRACKER!, Jan. 24 2001
This review is from: How to Play the Piano Despite Years of Lessons: What Music Is and How to Make It at Home (Paperback)
Before purchasing this book I floundered around for a few years. Learning a few pieces, slowing working on sight reading....all the while wondering how music is created, how harmony worked, how people play "by ear". This book shows gives you so many tools, and explains so simply how it all fits. I can't say enough good things about it. Even if you don't play piano but want to learn about music this is your book.
I hope the authors realize how much good they have done here. This book needs to find it's way into as many hands as possible.
If you're a complete beginner it may be a little slower going but still very much worth the investment. If you've expended mental effort trying to make sense of "music" this will be your holy grail!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great...., July 17 2004
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 very simple, easy to use introduction to music. I found this and Ariella Vaccarino's "Voice Lessons to go" series the two best purchases I have made this year. American Idol here I come!
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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
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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.
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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).
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Goldmine!, Dec 16 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)
This book literally changed my life. I cannot keep my fingers off the piano now. As a kid, I took six years of lessons, and I continued to play a few favorite songs on occasion. This book will show you how to play any song, in any key, without undue effort. I now can master a song in about a half hour, and sound better than ever. I never could memorize songs before, but now I can play probably 20 songs without music.
Don't even think about it. Just buy this book.
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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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book, June 24 2003
By A Customer
This worthwhile book, while not a beginner's book (as the title tells you), is packed with detailed information not found in other books. It is excellent for gaining an overall, general understanding of how music is constructed, and thus, played. It goes beyond the other two available "how to play from fake books" books; for example, the sections on different chord progressions are unique. Granted, the musical samples may be old-fashioned (1930-1975), but that doesn't invalidate them as exercises illustrating a point.
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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.
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