The Piano Project: A Noteworthy Journey

#ECI831, Major Learning Project

There aren’t very many things I regret in life, but quitting the piano before I even got started is one of them. I wish I could go back and tell myself that the practicing, the sore fingers, and the commitment was worth it.

© Josh Wells

As a kid, I didn’t think I needed the practice or the knowledge. I was having more fun playing kickball and watching movies with my friends. Fortunately, I was born with music in my bones, so I could play everything I heard by ear on the piano. However, that only gets you so far.

As I grew older, I became interested in learning the guitar. Thankfully at this time, Youtube was becoming more and more popular, so I decided to teach myself. The strumming and chording took some work, but over all, it came naturally. That only lasted so long though. I felt like I had only scratched the surface and had so much more to learn about the actual music side of things. The more I got involved with music, the more I wished that I had the skills, theory, and knowledge to dive deeper into every aspect of it.

I wanted to pick up sheet music and read the notes. I wanted to transpose keys effortlessly. I wanted to play music like it was my second language.

Fast forward to 2019. 

I decided that it was finally time to learn piano again. I searched on Amazon for a cheap, yet reliable, keyboard and purchased it as soon as I could. 

Fast forward to the present.

I finally get to put my new instrument to the test. For my major project in ECI 831, I get to choose anything that I want to learn and share my process with all of you! It feels like I get a do-over. A second chance. I finally get to learn piano (for real) and put in the time and effort it deserves. Now that I am older and understand the importance of commitment and dedication, I realize the value that this project will bring to my life. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You probably think I need to take piano lessons in order to actually learn piano, which is valid! However, there are so many different ways of learning an instrument online. As part of my project, I want to prove to you that with the right online resources, technology tools, social media access, and with a lot of practice, I can learn the piano.

Here’s the breakdown: 

The Goal: Learn piano. And not just the chords and a few notes. I want to actually have the knowledge and theory behind the sound this time.

But what does that look like for me? Here are some things that I want to be able to do by the end of this journey.

  1. Know and play the scales for each key without error.
  2. Know and play all of the major and minor chords.
  3. Know all of the notes and read basic sheet music.
  4. Play the notes with my right hand while playing chords on my left hand.
    And finally…
    5. Play a song all the way through without error and video record it.

The Process: There are a few ways I see myself accomplishing these goals. Here are some of the avenues I will take to get there:

  1. Online Videos
    I want to use Youtube tutorial videos to help me learn the basic skills, and in the end, use it to learn a song. Channels like HD Piano and Betacustic have videos that walk you through the keys, notes, and rhythms in various songs. Similarly to what Catherine Ready is attempting for her project, I will look up different types of “how-to” videos to help me learn the instrument.

  2. Blogs 
    There are a lot of easy-to-read blogs that explain the theory behind piano. I plan on gaining knowledge, along with skill, as I embark on this project. Sites like JoyTunes, Piano-Keyboard-Guide, and Odd Quartet explain chords, notes, and reading basic sheet music. 

  3. Social Media
    I plan on taking my project to social media and using Twitter to reach out to other musicians. I have started searching different hashtags that have to do with learning piano, and I have already noticed a community out there that wants to share their piano-learning process as well.

  4. Friends
    I have a few friends that play piano and are willing to share their experience and knowledge with me. I plan on meeting with them face-to-face, as well as using Skype and FaceTime to learn from them.

I have just over 8 weeks to accomplish my goal. I know it seems like a lot to learn in such a short time, but with a perseverance and a lot of practice, I know that I can get there. I plan to document my process through Vlogs, blog posts, and Twitter. Even though I want this experience to be authentic and real, I know it will be a struggle for me to put the whole process out there for the internet to see. This will definitely be a growing experience, but I am excited to see where it takes me. 

Before I embark on this new adventure, I have a few questions for you!

  1. What other avenues should I take to learn the theory and skill of piano?
  2. What song should I play on piano for my final video?
  3. What advice do you have for someone who is nervous to share their experience in an honest and raw way through Vlogs, blogs, and social media?

    I am excited to see where this journey of learning piano takes me. I know that this “Piano Project” will be difficult at times, but also rewarding. I think my younger, non-piano playing self would be proud.