Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Why is learning piano so bloody difficult?


Recommended Posts

I've been playing guitar and bass for years (and ukulele for a few months), and recently decided to learn to play piano. 

 

I'm an amateur songwriter and I had this mad idea to attempt to learn to play my songs on piano. Wow, the piano is a harsh mistress! I'm wondering how you guys became masters of the keyboard. Why is it so difficult? Or is it just me?

Link to comment
Share on other sites



I cannot answer why it is difficult, but I think it requires patience and persistent work over a long period of time to earn piano skills. I found it very difficult, frustrating, and boring in the beginning years. I think if I had had an especially good teacher it could’ve been different. In  the beginning as a child  I wanted to play The Beatles music and then as a teen  I heard Vince Guaraldi and wanted to play jazz piano. But the teachers in The SF Bay Area were never very good.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This was my reaction to trying to learn guitar later in life.

 

My brain is pretty wired to the keyboard layout and the physical memory of where notes are. It's essentially one axis. The note boundaries are visually obvious, given the arrangement of black and white keys.  Want louder?  Thwack harder. Practice scales and chords and your hands know where to land before you finish thinking about it.

 

Guitar has your brain working across two axes--i.e. horizontally and vertically across strings. Even with dots I don't know where the hell I am most of the time. :D And I have to adjust for the B string breaking the interval pattern.  "Oh but you can put a capo here, and you can tune it differently.."  :facepalm: , further adding to the mental gymnastics.

 

For me the only way into that headspace has been to repeat, repeat, repeat, and remind myself not to "translate" to the keyboard. Just learn it for what it is!

 

One of the cooler aspects of the guitar has been the immediate, visceral connection with the actual sound generation. I like all the string control options, from different strums to mutes to slides.

 

Piano translates key presses across complex mechanisms before any sound comes out. Sure, there's pedaling, and you can mute strings (while looking like you're changing a spark plug). It's just a very different feeling.

 

At least both allow us to sing and play at the same time!

 

 

  • Like 2
I make software noises.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, BMD said:

I've been playing guitar and bass for years (and ukulele for a few months), and recently decided to learn to play piano. 

 

I'm an amateur songwriter and I had this mad idea to attempt to learn to play my songs on piano. Wow, the piano is a harsh mistress! I'm wondering how you guys became masters of the keyboard. Why is it so difficult? Or is it just me?

I play guitar and haven't done very well with keyboards. 

One of the most important differences is that playing in all 12 keys is relatively simple on the guitar once you've learned that scales are also "patterns" and will be the same up and down the neck. A major scale pattern on the 3rd, 2nd and 1st strings can simply be moved up and down the neck, the pattern is the same but the key changes. There is one pattern in 12 different keys. 

 

Playing a major scale on a keyboard and changing keys is different. There are 12 different patterns, one for each key. 

A big plus for keyboards is that there is only one location for each note. This should make reading European music notation much simpler. 

On a Stratocaster (just for example), there are 5 differeent locations for Middle C. That could potentially make reading music more difficult. 

 

There are advantages to each instrument, I don't think it's worth driving yourself nuts to play something that you don't relate to, I've given up on being good at keyboards.

Life is too short as it is, jack of all trades - master of none. 

  • Like 1
It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't play any other instrument besides keyboards, so this is really an uninformed opinion. 

 

My thought however is that proficiency on piano has been historically rooted in European classical music for the longest time, and a lot of us learned piano the old fashioned way - private classical lessons when we were children (unwilling victims LOL). All that adds up to me to mean:

 

1) while it's relatively simple to bang out rock and roll triads, actual proficiency requires stuff like per-digit dexterity, hand independence, and the afore-mentioned different shape/fingerings for every key signature.

2) while many may disagree, I tend to still believe the old curricula develops these kinds of things best (learning Bach, Mozart, Beethoven). 

3) thus, it has it's own unique set of "it's really hard" factors. Other instruments have theirs (like violin or trumpet), but piano definitely has some uphill learning curve - especially compared to guitar, bass, or drums.

4) the reason I mention guitar, bass, and drums should be obvious - they are rooted as foundational to modern pop music. Those are somewhat easier to become "sorta" proficient in...so I'm told.

 

Advantages to keyboard proficiency - I'm told it's easier to visualize complex harmony on a keyboard. It more naturally provides ways for you to explore all sorts of different timbres, sounds, orchestral roles and such with modern tech. You'll typically be the smartest guy in the band and the sharpest tool in the shed.

 

A well known down side - while everyone else in the band will be getting their snuggle on with fetching groupies, most keyboard players will be left arguing with some sweaty dude over the merits of linux.

  • Like 1
..
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In many ways piano is easier than really learning the guitar.   On piano there is one place to play middle C.  On guitar depending on the number of frets there are 5 ways to play middle C. Often times when learning a classical guitar piece the first thing I would have to do is go through the score and figure out what positions to play the sections in.  I’m glad I learned piano first. It did make everything else easier.  
 

With the linear nature of keys, chord voicings and extension theory is way easier to really learn on piano.  If you don’t believe me read Chord Chemistry by Ted Greene.   😀

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hell if I can learn piano, then anyone can.   

  • Like 2

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, BMD said:

I've been playing guitar and bass for years (and ukulele for a few months), and recently decided to learn to play piano. 

 

I'm an amateur songwriter and I had this mad idea to attempt to learn to play my songs on piano. Wow, the piano is a harsh mistress! I'm wondering how you guys became masters of the keyboard. Why is it so difficult? Or is it just me?

After decades of guitar and bass I decided to finally man-up and learn piano at age 70.   It's a challenge, but an enjoyable one.  For me the hard part was getting used to looking at the keys and seeing relationships they way I can on guitar.   As crazy as the matrix of notes it on guitar I see and understand it, piano is just starting to come to me visually.     I will say one thing guitar I could lay off for a few days or a week and no big deal, piano it's got to be everyday or fingers get mad at me.   

 

Stick with it, it's worth it.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, BMD said:

I've been playing guitar and bass for years (and ukulele for a few months), and recently decided to learn to play piano. 

 

I'm an amateur songwriter and I had this mad idea to attempt to learn to play my songs on piano. Wow, the piano is a harsh mistress! I'm wondering how you guys became masters of the keyboard. Why is it so difficult? Or is it just me?

 

Different set of muscles at work.

 

Picking hand for guitar uses a clenched fist (unless you're finger picking).  You now have to train that clenched fist to coordinate all the fingers.

 

Have to train the foot on the sustain pedal.


Have to train the fingers in both hands.  In every key.  In every scale.  Unlike a guitar, the patterns for every key/scale is not the same.

 

Have to train the fingers to be even from ppp to fff.  That's what the Hanon exercises are for.

 

Have to learn coordination in each hand..

 

Practice is hard.  Harder than guitar.  That's how you learn to play piano.

 

I learned to play piano for 15 years before picking up a guitar.  In my opinion guitar is easy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As @timwat above, another completely uninformed opinion, as I have been told I started banging on a piano at age 3 and never really stopped.  As a result, there's always been a 1:1 association in my head between a pitch and its visual equivalent on a piano.   This helped when learning trumpet and oboe as a young'n, but -- as above -- guitar threw me for a loop as there are many ways to play the Ab above middle C, and only one way on a piano.

 

As stated above: theory, harmony, modes, chords and inversions -- very easy to visualize if you've learned piano.  Interestingly enough, I've lost most of my sight reading over the years (use it or lose it!), but have gotten much better at learning new chops by watching closeups of others playing.  I see the hand figures they're using, and it's a speedy shortcut, much like I would expect it to be for guitarists.

 

Any new casual learner I think would be well served at the outset by Youtube. Then again, there's no substitute for classical technique if you really want have some real fun.

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's hard, a challenge everyday even after almost 60 years playing and I can't begin to estimate how many thousands of hours practicing.

 

And the more you know, the more you realize how little you know and how much more there is out there to learn and discover. It never ends.

 

Having a great teacher, along with a good work ethic, can literally save you maybe decades of grief and frustration.

  • Like 2

https://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

 

NY Steinway D

Yamaha AvantGrand N3X, P-515

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, timwat said:

I don't play any other instrument besides keyboards, so this is really an uninformed opinion. 

 

4) the reason I mention guitar, bass, and drums should be obvious - they are rooted as foundational to modern pop music. Those are somewhat easier to become "sorta" proficient in...so I'm told.

52 minutes ago, The Real MC said:

 

Different set of muscles at work.

 

Picking hand for guitar uses a clenched fist (unless you're finger picking).  You now have to train that clenched fist to coordinate all the fingers.

 

Have to train the foot on the sustain pedal.


Have to train the fingers in both hands.  In every key.  In every scale.  Unlike a guitar, the patterns for every key/scale is not the same.

 

Have to train the fingers to be even from ppp to fff.  That's what the Hanon exercises are for.

 

Have to learn coordination in each hand..

 

Practice is hard.  Harder than guitar.  That's how you learn to play piano.

 

I learned to play piano for 15 years before picking up a guitar.  In my opinion guitar is easy.

 

timwat, I appreciate the "sorta" in "sorta" proficient. That is observant and honest.

 

Real MC, I would say similar muscles used differently would be more accurate. For both instruments, posture and relaxation are important and you will use similar muscles differently - at least I do.

 

I've never used a "clenched fist" for my picking hand and I would advise any guitarist that wants to know how to be good at picking technique to NOT clench either of their fists. Relaxation is important, so is control of dynamics. 

Clenched fist is for cracking skulls and killing chickens, the key to great guitar tone is a relaxed picking hand with a wide range of dynamics and tones. I use a 2mm Gator pick, thick and not flexible. My amp does the work for volume, not my hand. This allows a dynamic range from a whisper to a scream. Both are useful. 

 

Guitarists must train the fingers in both hands, they are doing different things but they must coodinate or it is a disaster. Microseconds matter! One big difference is that too much tension in the fretboard hand can cause intonation problems, another big difference is that the fretting hand needs to be skilled at adjusting pitches, from very subtle micro-tones to 2 whole step bends with vibrato - where and when to put which type of vibrato is also part of guitar excellence. 

 

I don't know if practice is harder on piano than on guitar, I do know that most of my "practice" has been "earn as you learn" by reading hands of other guitarists (usually the bandleader/lead singer). I've spent over 16 years in two bands where I showed up, played the songs on the spot and they kept asking me back. 

 

Guitar is only easy if you do not challenge yourself. Watch some Jeff Beck videos and then try to sound just like him. He is so practiced that he makes it look easy. It's not. 

 

It's a mistake to underestimate either instrument, both can clearly excel in different ways and there is no substitute for either. 

 

  • Like 1
It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 minutes ago, KuruPrionz said:

One big difference is that too much tension in the fretboard hand can cause intonation problems, another big difference is that the fretting hand needs to be skilled at adjusting pitches, from very subtle micro-tones to 2 whole step bends with vibrato

 

 

That's a "weakness" I had to adjust as a piano player learning guitar.  As a piano player I have very strong fingers.  When I was playing guitar, the strong piano fingers were applying too much tension on the fretboard and/or bending individual strings in the chord.  I could hear the intonation errors and it took me a while to recognize the source of the problem.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, The Real MC said:

 

That's a "weakness" I had to adjust as a piano player learning guitar.  As a piano player I have very strong fingers.  When I was playing guitar, the strong piano fingers were applying too much tension on the fretboard and/or bending individual strings in the chord.  I could hear the intonation errors and it took me a while to recognize the source of the problem.

 

Yes, I have a good friend who started out on guitar with a Martin guitar with high action and heavy guage strings. He has "clamp hand" and I am slowly weaning him away from that and towards a more relaxed approach. He is still tense but less so. He brought a Schecter solid body to me for adjustment and I took the heavier strings off, put a 10-46 set on with low action and told him to try that for a few months. Now he is putting a 10-50 set on his guitar and learning not to pummel it. He sounds much better, a wider range of tones and fewer pitch problems. 

 

The Schecter has tall frets, that combined with light strings requires a lighter touch. 

Attached is my main "gigger", I scalloped the fret board. That'll cure ya of pressing too hard!!!!! 😳😃

IMG_1305.JPG

IMG_1300.JPG

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

People who learn guitar or bass first often find piano hard to learn, but it's only because they are not apples to apples but sort of seem like they should be. For one thing, the learning curves are the opposite: With guitar, a couple of conquerable patterns can have you playing something that sounds like music relatively quickly. But then you spend a fair amount of time at that plateau before advancing to the next level. With piano, the plateau usually comes first. But then as certain things come together there is quicker growth down the line.

Also the very things it is easiest to do quickly on guitar--play good-sounding patterns that work across different keys, arpeggiate a simple three-note chord and have it sound like music, even just play donuts and have them fill a measure--are the hardest aspects of beginning piano. There is no pattern that works across keys--we have no CAGED. Playing a broken C chord doesn't sound as instantly like music as it might on guitar, it just sounds like notes. And unless you are prodigy at the pedal, you can't "play and release," even to get to a next chord, because the piano doesn't sustain like guitar does, and doesn't have open strings to buy time with. So everything you do at first sounds more obviously like "not music" than it does on guitar. 

 

But there are plenty of parts of piano that are way easier and come faster. For one thing, it's the only instrument where the note is the note, forever and always. Anyone can press a C and it will sound like the note C. You can't buzz a fret, you can't end up too far back on the neck and play flat, you can't accidentally dampen it or anything else. The cat can play C and it will sound like C. It's very hard to reliably get a pure note on guitar or bass when you first play it, even on an open string, and that's not to mention the tuning aspect in general.

Plus as long as you stay on white notes, there are tons of songs you can play by learning the triad shape and knowing where to play it. Give me 10 minutes and I can have you playing "Lean on Me" (which was written by a [mega-talented] guy who didn't play keyboard but knew the triad shape). It's just that that particular party trick isn't exportable; it's "speaking phonetically."

Finally, while piano doesn't have finger/note patterns that can export across keys, it's got something arguably way easier: it's basically only 12 notes and a foot wide. Those notes repeat in the exact same way over and over in each direction. You only need one octave to play every single chord (not all in root position, obviously), and only two to play every single chord in every single inversion. Those same two octaves are almost certainly more than you'll ever need to play any melody you'll encounter. You only need one octave to play any bass note you'll never need. So while guitarists are off learning how to make certain chords in new places on the neck, we don't have to do anything different--just plant our hands one multiverse over and boom, we made things higher or lower. 

I think one of the reasons drummers pick up piano so easily is that drums are "linear" instruments as well, and they are used to learning new patterns for each set of sounds they want to produce. Guitar and bass involves certain methods that seem like they should help you play another polyphonic instrument, but really don't. Because they don't, guitarists/bassists who try to take up piano often feel stymied.

"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 minutes ago, MathOfInsects said:

People who learn guitar or bass first often find piano hard to learn, but it's only because they are not apples to apples but sort of seem like they should be. For one thing, the learning curves are the opposite: With guitar, a couple of conquerable patterns can have you playing something that sounds like music relatively quickly. But then you spend a fair amount of time at that plateau before advancing to the next level. With piano, the plateau usually comes first. But then as certain things come together there is quicker growth down the line.

Also the very things it is easiest to do quickly on guitar--play good-sounding patterns that work across different keys, arpeggiate a simple three-note chord and have it sound like music, even just play donuts and have them fill a measure--are the hardest aspects of beginning piano. There is no pattern that works across keys--we have no CAGED. Playing a broken C chord doesn't sound as instantly like music as it might on guitar, it just sounds like notes. And unless you are prodigy at the pedal, you can't "play and release," even to get to a next chord, because the piano doesn't sustain like guitar does, and doesn't have open strings to buy time with. So everything you do at first sounds more obviously like "not music" than it does on guitar. 

 

But there are plenty of parts of piano that are way easier and come faster. For one thing, it's the only instrument where the note is the note, forever and always. Anyone can press a C and it will sound like the note C. You can't buzz a fret, you can't end up too far back on the neck and play flat, you can't accidentally dampen it or anything else. The cat can play C and it will sound like C. It's very hard to reliably get a pure note on guitar or bass when you first play it, even on an open string, and that's not to mention the tuning aspect in general.

Plus as long as you stay on white notes, there are tons of songs you can play by learning the triad shape and knowing where to play it. Give me 10 minutes and I can have you playing "Lean on Me" (which was written by a [mega-talented] guy who didn't play keyboard but knew the triad shape). It's just that that particular party trick isn't exportable; it's "speaking phonetically."

Finally, while piano doesn't have finger/note patterns that can export across keys, it's got something arguably way easier: it's basically only 12 notes and a foot wide. Those notes repeat in the exact same way over and over in each direction. You only need one octave to play every single chord, and only two to play every single chord in every single inversion. Those same two octaves are almost certainly more than you'll ever need to play any melody you'll encounter. You only need one octave to play any bass note you'll never need. So while guitarists are off learning how to make certain chords in new places on the neck, we don't have to do anything different--just plant our hands one multiverse over and boom, we made things higher or lower. 

I think one of the reasons drummers pick up piano so easily is that drums are "linear" instruments as well, and they are used to learning new patterns for each set of sounds they want to produce. Guitar and bass involves certain methods that seem like they should help you play another polyphonic instrument, but really don't. Because they don't, guitarists/bassists who try to take up piano often feel stymied.

Interesting post and view point. 

It leaves out some essential musical reality. 

 

I dread that I will be misunderstood, the price of trying to be honest sometimes but the biggest difference between a stringed instrument and a keyboard is that playing a stringed instrument allows you to touch the source of the sound with your fingers.

 

That provides a large variety of options for expression that are instanaeous and often spontaneous although certainly practiced. 

I have a variety of "Mute" and "Mute and Release" tones, a virtually infinite palette of minute variations in pitch, harmonics, for all practical purposes "instant EQ" by shifting the position of the right hand regarding triggering the string(s) and fun tricks like hammer ons, pull offs and vibrato. It's quite a palatte to have at your fingertips. This is to say nothing of the variations in gain and the tones provided there. 

 

There are keyboards that will do many if not all of these things but the interface introduces lateny (human response time).

A guitarist is touching the note. A keyboarist is pressing buttons, turning knobs, switching switches to control their machine. They are not "touching the note" in the same way that a violinist, guitarist or even a sax player are, it's instant response and it is visceral. 

 

I've mentioned it before, I've seen Artur Rubenstein in concert and it was fabulous. A few months later Mom took us kids to see Carlos Montoya. He was the premiere flamenco guitarist of his era, sold out show at the Convention Center in Fresno CA. 

 

The curtains opened, we all clapped and Carlos went into his first piece. He was a shredder, on a nylon string guitar using his fingers. He killed it and got a standing ovation on the first tune. 

He stood up, probably maybe 5'2" tall, bowed and said in a high, squeaky voice "Thank you very much". Then he sat back down and got it going on. 

 

My 7 year old brain registered that you could play a guitar and be a giant. I'll never forget Artur Rubenstien and his transcendant piano but Carlos hit hard and that's why I chose the guitar. 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's certainly a valid perception, but I don't think it has to do with any ease or difficulty in learning either instrument. It might speak to a particular person's preference for one instrument over the other, however--and lead to some interesting philosophical discussions around where we perceive "us" to end and/or the instrument to begin. I certainly have quite a deep connection to the sound and vibration of my grand piano--I can literally "feel" the sound in the keys. While it's definitely a part of playing an instrument, I'd have a hard time making the case that it's the reason someone could or couldn't learn one instrument over another. I think there are other practical factors at play in the learning process. 

  • Like 1
"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your brain needs to rewire itself to undertake the independent actions of both hands.

 

Only constant repetitive actions will make the rewire work.

 

Guitar, right hand is only really minimal movement if using a pick, the left hand is the one that presses the strings onto the frets, but its actions are co-ordinated with the picking of the right hand.

 

You have taught your brain that left and right hands work together and this is not the case on a keyboard, hands and fingers work independently.

Col

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 hours ago, KuruPrionz said:

I play guitar and haven't done very well with keyboards. 

One of the most important differences is that playing in all 12 keys is relatively simple on the guitar once you've learned that scales are also "patterns" and will be the same up and down the neck. A major scale pattern on the 3rd, 2nd and 1st strings can simply be moved up and down the neck, the pattern is the same but the key changes. There is one pattern in 12 different keys. 

 

Playing a major scale on a keyboard and changing keys is different. There are 12 different patterns, one for each key. 

A big plus for keyboards is that there is only one location for each note. This should make reading European music notation much simpler. 

On a Stratocaster (just for example), there are 5 differeent locations for Middle C. That could potentially make reading music more difficult. 

 

There are advantages to each instrument, I don't think it's worth driving yourself nuts to play something that you don't relate to, I've given up on being good at keyboards.

Life is too short as it is, jack of all trades - master of none. 


This hits the nail perfectly on the head. Compared to the repeating patterns all the way down the neck of the guitar, learning chords and playing different keys on the piano must feel like complete anarchy. 

  • Like 1

Keyboards: Nord Electro 6D 73, Korg SV-1 88, Minilogue XD, Yamaha YPG-625

Bonus: Boss RC-3 Loopstation

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, MathOfInsects said:

That's certainly a valid perception, but I don't think it has to do with any ease or difficulty in learning either instrument. It might speak to a particular person's preference for one instrument over the other, however--and lead to some interesting philosophical discussions around where we perceive "us" to end and/or the instrument to begin. I certainly have quite a deep connection to the sound and vibration of my grand piano--I can literally "feel" the sound in the keys. While it's definitely a part of playing an instrument, I'd have a hard time making the case that it's the reason someone could or couldn't learn one instrument over another. I think there are other practical factors at play in the learning process. 

I am only offereing observations, not solutions or proclamations. Individual humans are incredibly complex and unique, what draws one in does not draw another. 

 

I love the tone of piano strings, I used to use an upright piano as a "reverb" by aiming my guitar amp at the strings with a brick on the sustain pedal, and there was a solid rosewood Steinway at the student lounge that anybody could play, the uni kept it in good tune and well maintained. I used to sit at that piano in that huge, live sounding room and just play a note or two with the sustain pedal down, it's a beautiful sound.

That said, here's another anecdote for you. I was washing dishes in the kitchen late one evening. In the living room I had a cheap TV with a 4" speaker on, one of the late night talk shows. 

It wasn't up loud and I was not paying it any attention since washing dishes made their own noise. Then, I heard one note, just one. I instantly thought "BB King is on TV", stopped washing dishes and went in to watch BB. 

Dude told me (and everybody else) who he was with one note. There are a few musicians who can do that, it's a short list. 

It usually takes quite a few more notes to recognize somebody's playing, no?

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, Biggles said:

Your brain needs to rewire itself to undertake the independent actions of both hands.

 

Only constant repetitive actions will make the rewire work.

 

Guitar, right hand is only really minimal movement if using a pick, the left hand is the one that presses the strings onto the frets, but its actions are co-ordinated with the picking of the right hand.

 

You have taught your brain that left and right hands work together and this is not the case on a keyboard, hands and fingers work independently.

The assumption that the pick hand does "really minimal movement" is incorrect. That it is the right hand in all cases is also incorrect. 😇

It is not uncommon to use the fretting hand to activate a note, just for one example. You are assuming a very static guitar technique, I would put forth that not many players use only simple strums and plucks. I will also point out the obvious, that keyboard players must coordinate both hands or the music becomes chaos and also that the guitarist's fretting hand and picking hand are doing very different things simultaneously as well. There is a complex "inter-independence" at play in both keyboards and guitar, no two ways about it. 

 

The picking hand generally controls the tone of the string(s), the attack and decay (muting) and it is a common technique to use the picking hand to "pop" harmonics, sometimes with the thumb, sometimes with a finger and sometimes with a wrist. 

The picking hand also governs the timing of what is being played. It is a busy hand and many things can be done while the fretting hand is in a static position (and vice versa). 

Playing a fretting hand riff using hammer-ons and pull offs while picking hand is creating another pattern on different strings is a fairly common technique, you've heard it and maybe didn't think about it too much.

 

While I (and many other guitarists) do use a pick, I also play a variety of fingerpicking styles, more hand inter-independence. 

 

None of this "differences between guitar and keyboard" discussion can be wrapped up in a simple box and set on the shelf. The human variable is too vast to describe easily. Cheers, Kuru 😁

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, cp-the-nerd said:


This hits the nail perfectly on the head. Compared to the repeating patterns all the way down the neck of the guitar, learning chords and playing different keys on the piano must feel like complete anarchy. 

Not so much anarchy as a different way of creating a workable construct. 

The best thing about keyboards and guitars is that they are NOT the same!!!! 😃

 

That means we all get to enjoy a wider variety of musics and sounds. 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it basically comes down to what you learned while you were young (child/teen). Many skills are often easier to absorb when our brains are not fully developed yet and hungry for information and we have the boundless energy of youth (not to mention spare time). If you had not learned any instrument and were just now picking up guitar for the first time, I imagine it would seem harder than doing it when you were a kid. And you're now also comparing. When it's your first instrument, you don't have anything to compare it to.

 

I learned guitar first for a few years but only because we didn't have a piano. I switched to piano/keyboards when I was in my mid-teens. Neither instrument is foreign to me but I didn't keep up with guitar and have minimal skill. However, I do think that I still got benefit from having a different way of thinking about music (on a fretboard and strumming instrument) in addition to on a piano. 

 

You said you are into songwriting. There are countless artists that say they compose on keyboard even if that's not their primary instrument. So, I'd say keep up the piano if you are motivated at all. It might help with your music writing. At the very least, it will open your mind to thinking about music from a different perspective which can be good for creativity.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had access to a guitar and a piano when I was a wee kid. I gravitated to the piano immediately because it was "easy" to play something.  You press a key and the note sounds just the way it should. With a guitar you have to "make" the note/tone. If you don't do a number of things correctly, it sounds like crap. Having to tune constantly put me off as well, not to mention building up calluses so the strings don't bite. I love the guitar even though I still don't play one. I did buy a bass a few years ago and after about six months of wrestling with it for an hour or two a day, things started to come together quite nicely. I'm retired now and have a couple of guitars in my possession, so I may attempt a semi-serious dive into learning the instrument a little better.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Konnector said:

I had access to a guitar and a piano when I was a wee kid. I gravitated to the piano immediately because it was "easy" to play something.  You press a key and the note sounds just the way it should. With a guitar you have to "make" the note/tone. If you don't do a number of things correctly, it sounds like crap. Having to tune constantly put me off as well, not to mention building up calluses so the strings don't bite. I love the guitar even though I still don't play one. I did buy a bass a few years ago and after about six months of wrestling with it for an hour or two a day, things started to come together quite nicely. I'm retired now and have a couple of guitars in my possession, so I may attempt a semi-serious dive into learning the instrument a little better.

My best advice would be to take one (or both) of the guitars to a good guitar tech and have them do a complete setup. This can make a HUGE difference in your enjoyment of the instrument. 

 

 

 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many thanks for your collective wisdom, guys.

 

The first song I'm attempting has the chords Fmaj7, G6, A, and Am in the verses, and Bbmaj7, Em, A, Dm, C, and Gm in the choruses. I'm simply playing chords with my left hand and the vocal melody with my right. This is some learning curve. I have huge respect for you ivory ticklers!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Somehow I manage to play between the cracks.   That’s is why I’m doing this current blues gig.  There is no money in it but I miss playing between the cracks and they seem happy to let me do it. 

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it’s difficult to breath life into a hunk of wood and metal with hammers hitting strings. The pianist doesn’t get to shape their sound like a guitarist when they move the strings for bends or vibrato. Or, how the violinist can make a note grow. Or, a sax or trumpet….you get the idea. These other instruments provide ways for the player to be expressive that the piano does not. I think that has a lot to do with why sounding good on piano is difficult. 

  • Like 1
www.alquinn.com
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...