question for piano peeps

Registered User
Joined: 07/05/20
Posts: 222

For those of you who play piano, did you learn before or after you started with the guitar? Do you find it easier to understand music theory with the guitar by playing piano?

I ask because I'm thinking of picking up yet another instrument. I'm thinking of getting a digital piano (semi weighted 88 key) to help me with theory. But also because I've always wanted to learn how to play. I'd love to know songs and write my own music. I've already been writing instrumental music for the ukulele. I would really love to finally know how to read notation and play it. (I understand it, I just can't apply it or read it per say).

If you have any tips for me as I begin this journey, that'd be great. But I'd really love to hear how piano has helped you improve on the guitar. (Perhaps so I can find out what I have to look forward to that I haven't thought of yet...?) :)

Thanks! Even though, as of tomorrow, I'll only have use of one hand for awhile (surgery on tuesday) I still plan to pursue this and get one here and set up. Luckily, I have just enough space for it in my apartment.

Oh, did you go about lessons? Online? Specific website? Books? All of the above?

“Often, what seems like an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in.” Robert Brault, American Operatic Tenor

# 1
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Joined: 03/04/21
Posts: 14

Hi Susan,

I'm a starting guitar player myself but have also a piano in my "music cave" for a few weeks now. Soon it will be tuned (it dates from the interwar period). My wife has a classical education and plays based on notations. I bought myself a textbook to learn to play the piano based on chords instead of notations. In this book, the link is made between chord and notation, so eventually you'll learn to play on notations.

[br]The book calls "Alfred's piano methode voor volwassenen". I'm Dutch speaking and live in Belgium but the book is a translation of Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course: Lesson Book 1: Piano Book. See:

But first I want to get to know my guitar before I take the piano. Besides, I always take my guitar with me when we go to our weekend stay and that is rather difficult with a piano .

[br]What struck me was that once you know the structure of chords on a guitar well, it is very easy to discover them on a piano. So I think (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) it's easier to switch from guitar to piano than the other way around.

Of course, I have the advantage that my wife can teach me the piano, but first she has to accept that I don't think in do-re-mi-fa ... but in C-D-E-F ... Food for spicy discussions by the way :).

Good luck!



# 2
Registered User
Joined: 07/05/20
Posts: 222

Thanks! That's really cool you're learning both. I think the Alfred's book is the one I have picked out to be my first book. I figure I'll learn from books and free online lessons first and then think about subscribing to something like Guitar Tricks but for piano.

“Often, what seems like an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in.” Robert Brault, American Operatic Tenor

# 3
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Joined: 04/17/13
Posts: 675

As I have said before... There is a reason they teach college level music theory on the piano. It is easy to explore extended chords with much less exasperation with the finger straining gymnastics involved. It also lays out the C scale very clearly and this helps newbes get a grasp on music theory and starting to play musical scales. If you take college level theory you required to have piano competency, or you have to be currently taking lessons on getting there. The down side is that every single musical key has a diffrent fingering pattern and to become competent you will need to learn all of those diverse fingering patterns. It seem to me that chords are easier to master on a key board and scales are easier on the guitar.

Guitar is much easier to transpose music into another key since most of the fingering patterns are similar. You move a C major scale up the neck 2 frets and you are playing in the key of D major. Move up another 2 frets and you can play in the key of E major. Same pattern! This applies to all up and down the neck. So to play major scales you only need learn one pattern and move it up and down the neck. This makes playing easier but it could make understanding the underlying theory more elusive.

As far as theory... you can learn it on either insturment, though the piano probably has the advantage.

Captcha is a total pain in the........

# 4
Registered User
Joined: 05/26/20
Posts: 1

Hi Susan! I've played both for several years (at varying levels of proficiency). Here's the differences I've noticed:

Piano is way more visual. You know exactly where every key is by the layout of the keyboard ("C" is always to the left of the two black keys, D is between them, Db/C# is between C&D...etc). If you're a visual person, it's easier to pick up theory on the keyboard.

However, the way you think about music on the piano is different than the way you feel music on the guitar. Guitar is about relationships and "shapes" for chords - for example, an E-chord "shape", barred, can be any (major) chord as you move it up and down the fretboard. Once you can barre, you can play just about any chord. I've tried to teach a couple of piano players how to play guitar, and they focus on learning the notes on the fretboard (and getting frustrated) rather than learning the shapes (first). So, their progress on guitar is slower than it could be.

Also, you can be a proficient rhythm guitarist and jam with just about anyone with a fairly basic repertoire. With piano, I find it hard to get away with "rhythm piano" - there's an expectation of greater ability to solo and improvise in band settings (at least, that's what I've found).

As mentioned earlier, pick one and stick with it for a few years, until you feel you are "proficient" to the level you want to be. If you're picking up piano, I'd recommend finding someone who can teach "faking" - that is a valid piano style which is a lot easier than conservatory, and you can sound good faster (and play in a bunch more settings) than if you take the traditional approach to piano. However, it also emphasizes chording in the right hand (along with the melody) with the bass hand handling a much simpler approach (usually the bass of the chord, maybe octaved, eventually doing arpeggios, like in boogie-woogie).

The other difference I find is that, with piano, each hand can be doing something different. I still don't have this down pat - having one rhythm in the left and another on the right bends my brain a fair bit. I started with guitar before going on to piano (and then stuck with piano for a long time, only coming back to guitar now) and that let me have an instrument I could play in groups (guitar) fairly quickly (basic rhythm, of course) while I built up my piano chops.

# 5