Learn To Play Piano Online Blog

Tim GrossHey, Tim Gross here, creator of the Piano Genius online piano lessons and training program. These blog updates will include piano training updates, tips, and concert tour photos of me on the road.

If you want to learn to play piano online, whether you’re a beginning piano player, intermediate, or even advanced, you’re in the right place.

I’m not a “piano teacher”, I’m a working musician and I’m sharing the way that musicians I know communicate and collaborate with other musicians.  Unless your goal is to play classical music (which you must play note for note) you’ll probably find how I learn and play songs (using a combination of the “Number System” plus play-by-ear training) to be much easier, faster, and more enjoyable.

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I Just Performed As Part Of Greg Kihn’s Band

Last weekend I performed with Greg Kihn live, and I’ll playing with him another 10 or so times over the summer. How that came about is Rick Springfield added Tommy Tutone and Greg Kihn as extra performers on some of our shows, and Rick had in own band (including me) play with Tommy and Greg as well.

I’ve performed with quite a few different bands/artists including Terri Nunn (from Berlin, who had the hit “Take My Breath Away”), Robin Zander (singer for Cheap Trick) and of course Rick Springfield, and Greg Kihn was the first person who actually gave us basic charts of his songs.

With everyone else, I was just given a bunch of MP3s of the songs and told to learn them.  -And that’s why sheet music is so unimportant to me and why I never rely on it… Because for rock/pop and popular music it’s not really used.

Why is that? -Because it’s harder and more trouble, and overall musicians are lazy. 🙂  OK, maybe not exactly lazy, but we want to learn in the most efficient way possible, and once you’ve trained your ear to pick out chords and music parts that IS the quickest way.

Unless I have something memorized I usually play from very simple chord charts, which display just the basic chords in each measure. For instance, this is what the first 4 measures of The Breakup Song  look like:

|   Am   |   F   |   G   |   Am   |

When there’s a lower-case “m” after a chord letter it means it’s a minor chord. So hey, now you know how to play the intro to The Breakup Song. 🙂

It’s not rocket science, heh. Using basic chord charts like that and training your ear to know what sounds right and what doesn’t is all you need to start playing songs right away. If this is even slightly intriguing to you, become a Piano Genius member right now and try it out for a month and see how much easier it is.

Here’s videos of two of Greg Kihn’s biggest hits (this is an old performance below, I’m not in it )

The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em Like That Anymore)

“Jeopardy” was another big hit of Greg’s, this one was fun for me to learn and play because the whole song is based on a keyboard harpsichord sound. 🙂  (Weird Al Yankovich had a big hit with his parody hit “I Lost On Jeopardy” too.)

Once I play some more shows with him I should be able to get some live video to put up, but for now I just wanted to show you these songs. I’m be updating soon – Tim

Related Post: I performed as part of Tommy Tutone’s band

I just performed as part of Tommy Tutone’s band (867-5309)

Last weekend I performed with Tommy Tutone live, and I’ll playing with him another 10 or so times over the summer. How that came about is Rick Springfield added Tommy Tutone and Greg Kihn as extra performers on some of our shows, and Rick had in own band (including me) play with Tommy and Greg as well.

It’s always fun to play new gigs with new people, and the first show went really well.  We weren’t given any charts or notes or anything to learn his songs, just MP3s of the songs to listen to and learn.

That’s why relying on sheet music is a bad idea, because often there IS no sheet music. So I learned the songs the same way I always do, and the same way most rock musicians do, which is exactly what I teach my Piano Genius Members in the members area:

  1. Listen to the songs enough to be familiar with them
  2. Figure out the key of the song
  3. Figure out the basic chord progression and write out simple charts
  4. Figure out your actual parts and jot down some notes to refer back to

…All based on just using your ear to tell whether it sounds right or not.

It works like a charm and is much easier, quicker, more effective, and most importantly can always be used. There’s not always sheet music available but your ears are always available to help you play once you’ve trained them to do their job. 🙂

This video below isn’t with me it’s just an old live performance Tommy did of his hit song 867-5309. At some point over the summer I’ll get some live clips of me playing with him and add them to the site. 🙂

Here’s my main point:

Virtually all of my musician friends learn songs exactly the same way that I do.  If there was a better way or a quicker way or a more effective method to learn songs and to learn our parts, we’d use it, but there’s not.

Whether you want to play with Tommy Tutone, or play  songs on the piano at family get-togethers, or you just want to play songs for yourself in the privacy of your room , this is the best way to do it.

If you’re even the slightest bit curious, become a Piano Genius member for a month and see what you think.

 

Related Post: I performed as part of Greg Kihn’s band

I played “horns” on Rick Springfield’s new song

I played keyboards on Rick Springfield’s new album “The Snake King”, and on this song “Little Demon” I played the horn/trumpet part (sampled trumpet sounds on my keyboard) , and towards the end at the 4:40 minute mark I played a synthesizer part/solo. Check it out:

Recording on someone’s album is a perfect example of why and when being able to read sheet music is unnecessary (and in fact useless.) Because to a large degree it’s the musicians’ responsibility to come up with good parts that fit the song, so it’s all about using your ear, being able to come up with parts that fit, and the ability to take direction and play a part you’re asked to play on the spot.

That’s exactly the kind of “skill stack” you’ll learn as a Piano Genius member. While I can’t promise becoming a member will lead you to getting play keyboards on a Grammy-award winning artist’s album, it can’t hurt! 🙂

I Wish I’d Never Learned To Play The Piano

APRIL FOOLS! 

(Yep, it’s April 1st… Do “April Fools” pranks exist worldwide or only in North America? If not, please is probably confusing.)

Tim Gross here, and the truth is, learning to play piano was the *one thing* of everything I’ve done that changed my life completely.

My ability to play the piano has given me:

  • Most of my best friends (met them through music)
  • My wife (met her through music)
  • Where I live (Palm Springs – I moved there to play music)
  • My job (Playing music, touring with Rick Springfield)
  • My “business” (Showing others how to play piano)

In addition to the above, being able to play the piano has given me less tangible things as well:

  • An outlet for frustration, restlessness, and depression (just sitting down at a keyboard and playing whatever comes to mind is almost like therapy)
  • A sense of confidence (as a teenager one of the first ways I got positive attention attention was playing the piano, and that ability continues to serve me well)
  • The motivation and inspiration to obtain other skills as well, like singing, songwriting, and playing guitar, which all give their own sense of satisfaction.

Music Is An Amazing Thing

Hearing the right song at the right time can change your mood. It can remind you of a special time or a special person, or it can motivate you to be a better you or to not give up.

By becoming a musician you can be the one who can do that for someone else, and that’s a special gift that’s worth working at to have. 🙂

So share with me: What does music do for you, and what do you want from it? What do you want to be able to do on the piano? I don’t mean what songs do you want to play, I mean what’s behind it? Do you want to be able to play at your friend’s wedding? Play a song for your loved one (or hopefully future loved one?) Impress your friends, family, and even strangers? Be able to liven up a party? Just have the satisfaction of being able to sit down in private and play something that makes you happy? Let me know… No foolin’ 🙂

(Also, try out a Piano Genius membership and see what it can do for you.)

Thomas Dolby Performing With Tim Gross

I was performing on an 80’s music week-long cruise to the Bahamas and Jamaica last week with Rick Springfield, and Lou Gramm (singer for Foreigner) and Thomas Dolby (who had the hit “She Blinded Me With Science”) were there as well. Foreigner/Lou have a LOT of hit songs, but one big hit that Lou didn’t perform in his set was “Waiting For A Girl Like You.”

That night, Rick Springfield told me 5 minutes before we were about to start playing a piano bar/jam session that he wanted to play that song. I’m familiar with the song but have never played it before, so I used my phone to try to pull up some song chords, and unfortunately some of the chords I found were wrong, so while we did make it through the song, it didn’t go that well.

We later had another piano bar/jam session and Rick wanted to do the song again, but this time I knew in advance long enough to actually play the song chords ahead of time and work out what the REAL chords were (which always helps, heh.) As it turns out, Thomas Dolby actually played the original keyboard parts on this Foreigner song (!) so he surprised everybody including me by coming out on stage to play the part:

 

A couple more things:

  1. We were playing the song in a different key (Em) than the song was recorded, which Thomas didn’t know, so when he started playing the part it sounded bad (oops) but he was easily able to play the same part in the different key as soon as I showed him what the starting note was.
  2. One of my “problems” is I can’t stop myself from saying something I think is funny even if it’s inappropriate. Lou Gramm has one of the strongest voices in rock music and his voice was powerful when he sang earlier the first night. So before we played “I Want To Know What Love Is” the first night, I said on the mic, “We’re going to play the song that Lou Gramm didn’t have the balls to sing earlier tonight.” (Which is funny to me because Lou is such a ballsy singer and we were just playing a quiet piano version, but for people who don’t know my sense of humor it may have been a little awkward.) And finally, at the end of the above video clip I even made a joke about Thomas Dolby… Like I said, if I think something is funny I can’t help myself. 🙂

Key Point: These kinds of impromptu “jams” or songs you’re trying to play for someone on the fly is exactly where the Piano Genius training comes and and can help you shine. I didn’t have sheet music, so that wasn’t an option, and even if there  was sheet music most people can’t sight-read it in real-time immediately.

The skills you need are 1) How to read a very simple chord chart, and 2) How to use your ear to let you know if what you’re playing sounds right.

Final Point:  I worked out what to play for that intro melody line in about 30 seconds, and to me it sounds “good enough” even after hearing Thomas Dolby’s actual part he played which was somewhat different. Even though I know it’s not 100% correct, if I were to play it again informally in the future I still wouldn’t go to the trouble to learn the official actual part, because virtually no one (except Thomas Dolby!) would know the difference, so what I’m playing is *good enough* and to me it’d be a waste of time.  (If I started performing it on stage in concert, THEN I’d of course take the time to learn the actual correct part.)

If you’re the kind of person who couldn’t stand to play that intro part I played knowing it wasn’t 100% exactly like the original part, then the piano training here on PianoGenius.com is not for you – That would make you the kind of person who needs to spend years struggling to learn to play note-for-note sheet music.

…But if you’re the kind of person who’d rather be able to play something that sounds 95% the same in a tiny, tiny fraction of the time, who likes to be able to just “wing it” and play a song they’ve never played before, then you should try out a Piano Genius membership.

You’ve got nothing to lose. And a lifetime of fun and enjoyment to gain.

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Thanks for watching, hope you enjoyed it – Tim
Got any feedback or comments? Let me know below 🙂

Piano Solo from a Star-Studded Jam Session

I just got back from playing on an “80’s Cruise” that had a lot of musicians/bands on it: Rick Springfield, Thomas Dolby, Berlin, Mike & The Mechanics, Billy Ocean, Lou Gramm (singer for Foreigner), Loverboy, Tommy Tutone, and more.

Here’s a bit of a piano solo my wife recorded during a midnight jam session. Rick Springfield and Tommy Tutone are on stage to the left of me, and Mike Reno (singer for Loverboy) is behind me. Also on guitar is Kevin Armstrong, who plays with Iggy Pop and Thomas Dolby and previously played with David Bowie.

With these kind of impromptu things sheet music is obviously out the window (even if I was someone who reads sheet music), the best you can hop for is to hopefully recognize a song a bit so you can anticipate chord changes, and use your ear to work out chords on the fly.

Anyway, here’s a snippet from the night:

Note: The above video is from a Facebook post, if it’s not showing up on this page for you, it may be because you’re in “private browsing” mode. Also, by default the Volume is OFF on the video, so click to turn on volume.

If you want to be able to play songs you don’t really know with musicians you’ve never met before and be able to HOLD YOUR OWN on stage with them, you should try a Piano Genius piano lessons membership. You’ve got nothing to lose. And a lifetime of fun and enjoyment to gain.

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