#1
quick background: I took 4-5 years of piano from age 9 to 13 (give or take). I was never very good because I hated practicing and was never exposed to music I connected with (possibly being too young). For the better part of 8-10 years I had a piano and might have played for 20-30 minutes once a month or so. I havent owned a piano for 3-4 years now (I'm 38) and have probably played for a total of an hour in the last 3+ years.

BUT

When I decided I wanted to learn guitar about 2 and a half years ago my limited experience with piano was invaluable. I understood notes, scales, intervals, keys, chord progressions, rhythm (even if I didnt have any), chord relationships (circle of 5ths etc).

SINCE

starting to play guitar I havent played anymore piano than I had before. The most Ive played was for 10-15 minutes at Guitar center messing around with keyboards. However I have been immersing myself in music theory. Its not enough for me to know that certain chords sounded good together, or a certain scale sounded good over a chord progression. I had to know WHY.

NOW THE STORY:
Im off to my inlaws for a weekend. Its my wife's parents and her sister's family. Its usually a good vibe because everyone is pretty cool and worst case my ladies parents are lushes so if (when) I get bored I can always just get drunk. However, they have a piano. Nobody even plays! Its a freakin piece of furniture! So I start playing, and playing and playing.... over the weekend I probably played 5-6 hours.
I was belting out Christmas carols.
I was jamming up everying from Dispatch to Van Morrison and some bluesy stuff
I just jammed
I was messing around w/ C major scale (all the white notes) and came across a familiar song. C G Am Em C F C (or something like that) and I was playing a very respectable 'Cannon in D' although Im pretty sure I played it in C

Anyway the point to all this was I havent played piano for shit, but combine some very rudimentary piano skills with a couple years of reading theory and it VASTLY improved my playing. Everyone kept chilling by the piano saying "I didnt knew you played" or simply "sounds good"

Very cool!
he of tranquil mind
#5
When I've played a piano I realized that it's really easier to play it if you know basic theory than the guitar. On guitar you must have either complete memorized fretboard in your head w/ all the notes in addition to the scales or you have to know all those scale boxes and how they transform when you move up and down the fretboard. The reason is that you can memorize sertain key on keyboard in only an octave as a picture in your head so you know which notes are "allowed" within the octave, and then simply apply it to all the octaves you've got. If you can play to metronome in your head that'd be enough for simple improv.
Then you got the chords which are easy to apply on keyboard once you know all the basic patterns but on guitar memorizing almost is the only way. Of course major, minor and dominant 7 are easy to remember if you can build barre chords but that rarely enough.

My point is: music theory is built on piano and therefore most applicable on piano. It will give effect the same on other aswell but you need more knowledge of it.

What is easy to apply on guitar are intervals. It's even easier than the piano since fret = semitone so wherever you start minor second is one fret away, major 2 is two, etc. But generally music theory on piano is just easier to apply.

However that does not means that you can't improve by learning the theory, that means that you got to learn how to apply music theory for your instrument.
#6
So you got drunk?
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
#7
This reminds me of the time I was drunk at a piano and played an improv in C major.

And then I played an improv in A minor.

Yay for relative keys.

Anyways, the point of the story isn't that you got better at the instrument by not playing it. The point of the story is that you learnt music theory and were able to apply it. You can do that with all instruments too. So great work TS, but it was music theory that helped understand, not simply not playing the instrument.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#8
Quote by AlanHB
This reminds me of the time I was drunk at a piano and played an improv in C major.

And then I played an improv in A minor.

Yay for relative keys.

Anyways, the point of the story isn't that you got better at the instrument by not playing it. The point of the story is that you learnt music theory and were able to apply it. You can do that with all instruments too. So great work TS, but it was music theory that helped understand, not simply not playing the instrument.
which came first? The chicken or the egg? Bottom line is I was a better piano player having not practiced any piano, just learning music theory.

Would the same be said of guitar? I would have to say yes.. since so much revolves around modes and those relationships....

side note:
yes, I got drunk... but the real magic happened when the kids went to bed and my brother in law invited me to the basement where he had a most glorious stash of hooch there. But it was the music theory that made it sound good, I swear
he of tranquil mind
#9
Quote by fishmike
which came first? The chicken or the egg? Bottom line is I was a better piano player having not practiced any piano, just learning music theory.

Would the same be said of guitar?

I would have to say yes.. since so much revolves around modes and those relationships....


side note:
yes, I got drunk... but the real magic happened when the kids went to bed and my brother in law invited me to the basement where he had a most glorious stash of hooch there. But it was the music theory that made it sound good, I swear



Forget the small letters, it only leads to hate. And as we all know, hate turns to suffering (for the users of this forum).

And my story is also true. I was at a friends house completely wasted infront of her mum and a principal of a local school.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#10
Quote by AlanHB
Forget the small letters, it only leads to hate. And as we all know, hate turns to suffering (for the users of this forum).

And my story is also true. I was at a friends house completely wasted infront of her mum and a principal of a local school.

haha... the evil subject!

Your story is a good one... but you still had to know where the notes were!

Now I just have to practice my major scales so I can move onto modes and join the evil empire?
he of tranquil mind
#12
Quote by intothe
Is it a possibility it sounded good because you were drunk?

its always possible, except that my lady's parents are heavily into classical music and were honestly impressed. Hell, I was honestly impressed with how good it sounded.

I had figured I would pound out some chords and jingle bells for the kids. What happened after was a nice suprise. And I actually started sober. It wasnt until I started really having fun that I got loaded
he of tranquil mind
#13
You're not the first person to discover this. Ultimately the instrument is a small part of the process of moving things from the inside (head, heart, instinct, feel...) to the outside (sound).

If you develop your hearing, your imagination, your understanding, your rhythm, your sense of humour...

... it all ends up coming out in your playing. It's possible to improve massively without ever touching an instrument, let alone transfer knowledge "from" one to the other.


It's also worth pointing out Shawn Lane took 6 years off guitar to play piano, and primarily practised piano when he wanted to work on his guitar playing. Look how that turned out.