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on January 16, 2004
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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on November 1, 1998
After reading this book, I would have to say that there are some very good things about it, but also some not-so-good things. First the good stuff: good basic approach to explaining things like chord construction, progressions, sheet music, and how music is made. There are excellent illustrations, with many examples. There is particular emphasis on the circle of fifths and chromaticism and how it relates to chord progressions. Unfortunately, the book lacks a lot of music theory that would probably be important to the beginner(like me). I would have liked to see more treatment of scales and how to use them to improvise, as well as more information on voicings and altered chords. The book is focused on playing out of fake books, (i.e., play chords with one hand, melody with the other, which is a good approach, if that's what you're interested in.) But this piecemeal "playing songs" approach is pretty restrictive. The author relies a little too much on "skelton" bass-chord playing with the left hand, with block chords in the right. It's probably not the book for someone who wants to learn improvisation, or jazz. The book takes a very comical, almost flippant approach to music theory in general, which is good in some ways, but can also can be counter-productive. The humor certainly makes the learning easier, but the book continually says, "if it sounds good, play it," Which I see as a little skimpy in the "why" department of music. It seems too much like he's saying, "Well, you can do this, but if you don't like how it sounds, don't do it." A better method would be to say why it might not sound good, and what alternatives you can do instead. But this is still a good book, actually an excellent book, if you want to be able to play your favorite songs from fake books, and is probably a good stepping stone to more advanced music theory(which boggles my mind most of the time anyways).
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on December 5, 1999
This book is a must-have for any aspiring pianist whose joy for the instrument was crippled years ago by a screeching, hair-bunned old biddy who constantly yowled, "Once more with feeling!" It is literally a God-send; even better--it's actually funny. Thankfully, the authors presented the material in an irreverent, smart-alecky style guaranteed to not only inform, but amuse. You'll not only learn, you'll guffaw; but by no means take this book lightly--no music book before it or since will top the invaluable information within it.
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I bought this book to help out on the ol piano knowledge curve. It did. Like any instrument you have to dedicate some time to it. But this book really lays out some basic knowledge that far too many "players" miss along there travails through the musicianship process. Well worth having... also I recommend a college level music theory class or two... until then... this is great stuff!
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