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Steven George Sanders / Blog

Introduction to Piano Heaven

I would like to personally welcome you to this journey we will take together, moving forward in knowledge towards our own unique musical destinations. I've heard from so many people time and time again how they like me, started the piano and then quit, with great regret. With a few fortunate turn of events, I was able to resume my playing and eventually became a professional player, mostly playing jazz standards in fine restaurants. But It always pained me to hear of others' remorse and I wished that there was something I could do to help them get back on the path of piano playing. In this book I candidly reveal my own struggles with the piano along with presenting the the steps and lessons you can take to return to the joy of piano playing. Our goal is to achieve the ability to play or write songs of your own choosing, rendered in your own unique style that you will piece together using the concepts and lessons presented in Piano Heaven. More than just an offering of dry musical material found in so many other books, my intent here is to spark your motivation and inspire you to make music with great abundance of enthusiasm. A great way to learn to play music is by listening to songs you want to learn and playing along with them. This activity is fun, and develops your “ear” for music in the process. In time, with concentrated listening you will learn to identify the “keynotes” of musical pieces, along with the chords supporting the melodies as the tunes move through their “changes.” Additionally, when you learn the lyrics and then sing the songs, you will be memorizing the melodies by “heart” in the process. With these steps completed, you will find that you have learned the rhythm of the tunes as well. So climb aboard and come fly with me to PIANO HEAVEN!

Which Came First? The Piano or the Guitar?

WHICH CAME FIRST? THE PIANO OR THE GUITAR? In my life, the piano came before the guitar. The teacher was my great-aunt- Lu Lu. As she lived directly across the street, the offer of lessons was difficult to refuse. Hence began my formal classical training- at a mere eight years old. At about four months' progress, with the material becoming more challenging, and the major distraction of Elvis Presley and the guitar Dad brought home one day- I quit the lessons.

Strumming a few chords on the guitar while singing songs became a favorite hobby which has endured to this present day. Later on, after taking a few guitar lessons, it seemed a much more difficult instrument to master than the piano. With the piano, the keys you strike are all out in front of you, and you can use all your fingers on both hands! Nonetheless, guitar strumming while singing provided the path of least resistance, and was a lot of fun, and still is!

In junior high, I decided to take another shot at piano lessons, but became quickly disenchanted with the teachers' and the infantile materials presented, coupled with no real sense or reason for what I was supposed to be learning. The whole matter ultimately became disgusting, but was a big failure to live with. How many people have you talked to in your life that told a similar story? Of course each persons' situation was unique, but with one thing in common- they all quit!

My musical salvation came in the form of a completely different kind of teacher. Eddie Brackett was 80 years old and had played ragtime in the silent movie theaters, and within four lessons, presented the basic skeletal structure of music, which allowed me to continue with new-found enthusiasm and confidence! Now I was no longer at the mercy of classical teachers, and could go forward, knowing what to practice and why, motivated by my own self-generated desire to improve.

By the end of high school I'd discovered jazz, and continued to play piano and strum the guitar as a hobby until I turned 35. I'd decided then to pursue playing piano professionally, and succeeded, relying on those fantastic lessons taught by Mr. Brackett. People used to tell me I'd make a great teacher, but I had too many other interests, and no desire to conform to a curriculum. I was always open to teaching music, but continually assigned the idea to some distant point in the future. Well the future has arrived!

My self-written teaching manual is complete and at the moment, divided into four lessons. The material in BASIC MUSIC THEORY is compiled from my studies, from the beginning to the present. Lessons have begun, and are progressing very smoothly. Perhaps you have always wanted to play the piano, started and quit, or know someone that has expressed the desire. Should you want to schedule a private lesson, please email me at sgsjazz@gmail.com. When you have an inspiring teacher, it truly is a "Joy to Play."

It's Just a Matter of Time

I used to really like this song by Brook Benton growing up- a nice, easy-flowing tune that simply said "You'll see that you've been blind", and you'll want to come back, etc., etc. time is, after all, a highly-controversial subject. I keep hearing about time-travel on the radio, and beginning to wonder if they've already started doing it and nobody told me yet. the gurus from the workshops all want you to stay in present time, no matter what it takes, because otherwise you're libel to go crazy. The bottom-line here is from the song "Que Sera Sera","the future is not ours' to see."

so if you don't mind, would just like to wish you all good experiences going forward, as we all ride the ship of expectations together- but individually, of course. it is time for many imponderable changes, many of whom, although imagined beforehand, tempt the courage level. This at least for me, is one of the many blessings of music- dealing with "changes" of the chord variety require that i be here now, and to quote Jesus, "Do the thing at hand." Peace and Love- sound trite? Maybe. i don't think so. Lots of that stuff coming your way.