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  1. #1
    I’d like some of the wonderful users of JazzGuitar.be to write words about guitarists learning piano. In the introduction to Jazz Piano, by Mark Levine, he writes that several (horn) instrumentalists were accomplished pianists. Some even recorded albums.
    i know that conservatories make their sax, trumpet, violin students learn piano.
    I feel like I “know” why but I’d love to read the words of the fine guitarists/musicians who also hang out here in (wonderful) JazzGuitar.be.
    Maybe I’m just seeking more inspiration to get myself more serious about my own piano study.
    thank you
    Last edited by GuitarStudent; 08-24-2019 at 05:46 PM.

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  3. #2

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    I think it’s a good idea! Even just a bit of piano practice.... found it very useful conceptually.

  4. #3

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    I don't see how learning more instruments could be bad.

  5. #4

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    I played some horn for a while and then drums for a while, both while trying to keep up the guitar. The experiences probably helped me musically (certainly I listen to the drums differently now) but eventually the added responsibility just stressed me out too much and got in the way of making more progress on the guitar, learning tunes, and frankly life in general. If I was already a fully formed guitarist or if I was retired I'd probably play one or both of those, but I have a busy day job and I just found it impractical.

  6. #5

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    I practiced guitar for years, scales, arps, pentatonics, triads, hexatonics. Became pretty good, if I say so myself. Got a lot of gigs and got asked to join in a lot. Great times.
    But then I got very frustrated about the guitar. At the same time I had a real crush on Kenny Kirkland, Calderazzo, Jarrett, Hancock and wanted to start playing piano.

    at the start everything seemed so easy. The lay-out of a keyboard is so logical, if you compare it to guitar. The possibilities of playing voicings with adjacent notes (really close voicings or clusters) are exciting.

    Once you get to a certain starters’ level, you notice that you have to do it all over again. The only thing separating you from a novice piano player is your harmonic knowledge and your ear. But the technique (fourths, arps, pentatonics...) has to be learned all over.

    It’s worth it, I believe. But I had thought it would have been easier. I have been practicing for five years (an hour a day) and still got a long way to go. Check my soundcloud... some good stuff but timing and precision still lacking.

    One thing I still want to say. I practice a lot of piano and have let my guitar practicing go. I was very worried of losing my abilities as a guitar player. To my own surprise my guitar playing hasn’t withered much. I still play guitar with bands. Before concerts I practice a few hours that week and my conclusion: if you studied your instrument hard enough, it becomes like riding a bike: you get worse, but you don’t really unlearn. Everything you were once able to do comes back with little practice.

    This is just my personal observation. Hope this rings true with others too.

    have fun

  7. #6

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    For me besides the great sound of the acoustic piano, i enjoy the theory aspect a lot. I have to think of what i'm doing, scales, notes, chords and substitutions, whereas on the guitar you just play those things without thinking about them.

  8. #7

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    I learned to play the piano when I was in jr. college as part of a music theory class. To get an A in the class one had to perform a song at the end of the year. I joined up with another gal and she played the guitar. She was much more of a pianist than a guitarist (as I was a guitarist and not a pianist), but the teacher said we would get extra credit if we 'switched'.

    Initially I found it easier to understand music theory via the piano than the guitar.

  9. #8

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    I studied a bit of piano in college and conceptually I thought at first that it was THE way to learn music theory with it. But ever since I tune my guitar into Major 3rds I began to question that notion in the back of my head over some time...

    The piano keys are not even ideally symmetrical (white <-> black back and forth continuously etc.), and even if they were I would still prefer the guitar tuned in Major 3rds as it also covers different possible directions rather than just left to right. That said there is something to be said about the simplicity of the piano, anybody can play it regardless of age.

    In any case if you love the sound of the piano I say go for it! As for me I'm sticking with my guitar as I couldn't ask for anything more. Major 3rds tuning is not just a guitar tuning.. Its a way of life

  10. #9

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    It seems like most of the good musicians I know play more piano than I expect.

    That's often true for drums, as well.

    I don't play piano, but I have a kb which I use occasionally when I want to hear something I can't play on guitar. I suppose I could use a looper to get some of that.

    I suspect, without being sure, that if I understood more about how jazz piano is played (in different styles and contexts) it would help me to be able to identify what a pianist is doing a little more efficiently -- and that would help with the guitar.

  11. #10
    Piano is a great instrument to learn for its own sake , beyond all the benefits to theory, understanding, harmony, and all of that. Definitely pursue it if you're interested. Everybody's different I guess. Some of us need something to do musically when we're kind of pissed at guitar. Just saying.

    There always seems to be concern about efficiency or lost opportunity costs etc , in pursuing an additional instrument. Sure, time is finite , but I think a lot of that is overblown. Some of us do a great bit of "wandering" into different things musically and otherwise. Piano is definitely one of the better ones if you're so inclined.

  12. #11

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    I don't see a downside.

  13. #12

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    Excuse me for an off-top but what does 'what say thee' mean? I know that oblique 'thee' is an obsolete objective form of 'thou' /you. But how does it work here? I can't relate words together (what doest thou say?)))

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah View Post
    Excuse me for an off-top but what does 'what say thee' mean? I know that oblique 'thee' is an obsolete objective form of 'thou' /you. But how does it work here? I can't relate words together (what doest thou say?)))
    To me it means: “Hey fellow guitarists. Any of y’all got anything interesting to say about this topic?” It’s kind of dumb. I actually tried to change it (using “Edit post”) but was apparently unsuccessful.

  15. #14

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    One of the most important things I did musically.

  16. #15

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    Learning piano is a good brain exercise for us old folks. Probably for younger folks too.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  17. #16

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    I think being able to playing the piano as well as singing the songs you play on your "real" instrument* is required if you call yourself a "musician" .

    Just my 2 c

    *not necessarily in concert-ready quality, but yes to some extent.

    --- The ultimate answer to almost all guitar questions: "Practice more!" ---

  18. #17

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    The nature of the piano is such that any musician that plays another instrument and reads music can take the 60 seconds needed to learn the names of the notes played by the piano keys and immediately sit down and begin to play the piano. A sax or trumpet player will be able to think of the notes of a favorite melody and play those right away (and perhaps notice that the piano is not a transposing instrument because it is tuned to concert pitch, a "C instrument).

    This is as opposed to a pianist attempting to do the same thing picking up a sax or trumpet and discovering how just finding the notes needs a lot of work, additional information, or even lessons just to get started. Of course, like all instruments, to really play them one needs to develop considerable technique, but the piano can actually be played poorly right from the start... which is why it is the universal instrument in the context of formal academic music studies.

    I still have my piano from 50 years ago when I took many years of classical lessons and theory. These days I don't pretend to play it, but I pull music out from inside the bench and enjoy hacking my way through, and I often explore things, treating it as a musical laboratory, especially for examining voicing of chords that can't be played on the guitar... the guitar tends to push toward familiar voicing of chords in a way that the piano does not.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  19. #18

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    40 years ago, I took what I knew from guitar, and the basic knowledge of scales, thirds, triads, harmonized scales, and was able to apply it to piano by ear, quite easily. It's laid out so linear, you can't get any easier.

    Next I started to work on Jerry Lee Lewis type boogie woogie style blues to develop some left and right hand independence, and it was just a matter of putting in the time, like anything else musical. After that, it was just a matter of improving technique and developing a chord vocab on the keys. I did well enough to fill in on some rock/blues band gigs doing piano and organ.

    When my musical preferences shifted to jazz, I found it even easier to deal with the more advanced harmony and inversions on piano, than it is on guitar. I never worked very hard on soloing on the keys, except for organ, because of the ability to use more sustain and legato, which I found very intuitive as a guitarist.

    I'm fairly fluent in reading and playing chord changes, so it can be lots of fun to comp on jazz tunes. It's interesting to read how often Dizzy or Miles actually recorded comping for others on early bebop sessions when they needed to.

    Anyway, after gaining usable keyboard skills, I really never touch the keys much anymore in the last 10 years except as a composing tool. As far as performing, everything I want to say can be done on the guitar, so that's where the time investment goes now.

    I would say that most anyone with some natural musical skills and access to a piano will find it a friendly instrument to make some music with.

  20. #19
    I’m a guitarist - not a pianist.
    I’m interested in chords:
    - Relative minors
    - Chord spellings
    - Inversions
    - Key signatures
    - Intervals
    - Bass clef
    Although I firmly believe the fretboard (by its layout) can teach you “theory”** (especially intervals), I see the piano as another potential teacher of “theory”.

    I don’t know how are my prior learnings occurred - I can’t say how I learned how to spell augmented chords, cycle of 5ths or the spelling of Gm7b5. It happened, imperceptibly (as much learning does).

    So this perspective (edifying theory studies) is what was behind my posting of this (My “Learn Piano”) question: I wanted to see what the (wonderful) talent, experience and knowledge of JG.BE would say about my quest (learning piano).

    Now my challenge is my real challenge: “time on the instrument” (a great phrase).

    I hope the piano will reward me for my efforts to read piano music (and bass clef).
    Thank you JazzGuitar.be.

    ** I know “theory” is the wrong word. Perhaps “basic music structures” or something else is better.

  21. #20

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    Back when I was at Berklee several lifetimes ago two semesters of keyboard were mandatory. I actually changed my principal instrument to piano and took private guitar lessons off campus.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by jaco View Post
    Back when I was at Berklee several lifetimes ago two semesters of keyboard were mandatory. I actually changed my principal instrument to piano and took private guitar lessons off campus.
    Piano lessons are also mandatory at the New School. I hated them, although they are useful for horn players and people that don't play a harmonic instrument, which is probably most people. I think jazz drumming is a better thing to make "mandatory". I've gotten WAY more from learning the nuances of jazz drums and the ride cymbal than I ever have from learning commodity bill evans style piano voicings.

    Personally I've never used a piano when composing or arranging (even for big band), but recognize I'm probably in the minority there.

  23. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by pcsanwald View Post
    Piano lessons are also mandatory at the New School. I hated them, although they are useful for horn players and people that don't play a harmonic instrument, which is probably most people. I think jazz drumming is a better thing to make "mandatory". I've gotten WAY more from learning the nuances of jazz drums and the ride cymbal than I ever have from learning commodity bill evans style piano voicings.

    Personally I've never used a piano when composing or arranging (even for big band), but recognize I'm probably in the minority there.
    I think this is a good point. Some good guitarists come from a percussion background. Tommy Emmanuel comes to mind.
    I remember when I first started to read guitar music. I was reading Desafinada and came upon some quarter-note triplets. They tripped me up (no pun intended).

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarStudent View Post
    I’m a guitarist - not a pianist.
    I’m interested in chords:
    - Relative minors
    - Chord spellings
    - Inversions
    - Key signatures
    - Intervals
    - Bass clef
    Although I firmly believe the fretboard (by its layout) can teach you “theory”** (especially intervals), I see the piano as another potential teacher of “theory”.

    I don’t know how are my prior learnings occurred - I can’t say how I learned how to spell augmented chords, cycle of 5ths or the spelling of Gm7b5. It happened, imperceptibly (as much learning does).

    So this perspective (edifying theory studies) is what was behind my posting of this (My “Learn Piano”) question: I wanted to see what the (wonderful) talent, experience and knowledge of JG.BE would say about my quest (learning piano).

    Now my challenge is my real challenge: “time on the instrument” (a great phrase).

    I hope the piano will reward me for my efforts to read piano music (and bass clef).
    Thank you JazzGuitar.be.

    ** I know “theory” is the wrong word. Perhaps “basic music structures” or something else is better.
    I’m going to use the word Praxis.

    Like I know what it means haha

  25. #24

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    Anyway, after gaining usable keyboard skills, I really never touch the keys much anymore in the last 10 years except as a composing tool. As far as performing, everything I want to say can be done on the guitar, so that's where the time investment goes now.
    I had somewhat similar experience (with a bit differenet repertory) and used piano more for educational purposes or for 'playing through' some score etc.
    but someitme ago I began to play piano more again but this time like a real instrument... not that I practice... I just play music but with the same attention as I do nplucked instruments.
    I suddenly discovered something in it... I do it occasionally with no ambitions. But now it is not only a soundboard, but a real instrument I communicate with...

    And the problem now is... before I did not really care much about quality of the piano (even electric pianos of the Clavinova level were ok for me) but now... Now I want to have a good piano.