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on October 29, 2002
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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on January 21, 2004
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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