Thursday, May 26, 2011

The End Of Piano Lessons - Graduation Day

We think of "Graduation" as the end of a grade level and diploma time.  However, in piano lessons language, that means graduating up to the next level of skills to a harder book or piece.

Traditional graduation doesn't really apply to piano lessons.  Just ask a piano teacher when you graduate and they're thinking something else.  Surely, you don't mean getting a diploma???  No, standard lessons are lessons without end. Therein lies the problem. 

A Set Time-Frame

 The whole dynamic of beginner lessons would change if there was a set time frame for completion followed by graduation.  It might cover a time standard of 2 years (or less) to achieve a specific level of proficiency skills and knowledge.  Imagine!  A two year course for which you would graduate!

At this level, you've learned your chords ("command") and know how to get around with or without written music.  "Diploma" means that lessons are over.  At that point you either take more lessons or take the next year or two off and really figure out what's going on on your own.

Standard Lessons Are Sort of 
False Advertising By Omission

Because there's no defined end to piano lessons, you have no other choice but to quit.  "Quitting" has a negative stigma.  "I've taken enough. It's not for me. I don't get it" people say.

After quitting, people are dumbfounded, wondering when in Sam-Hill the boat sailed by.  They didn't see no boat!  For many it is hard to continue after having such a numbing experience.  They become a "took lessons and quit" statistic.  There is something very wrong with this.

Wouldn't it be phenomenal to fuse extensive chord training into the first two years of standard lessons?  I mean really teach people how to play the instrument independently as a matter of course.  We don't do this but we really must.  We have the technology but do we have the will?

It's not going to be easy to change the world.  It's the "Civil" War

My graduation story is that my son graduated from 8th grade today.  I remember life at 14 idly thinking "Truly, the worst must be over."   


Joseph Pingel is a pianist, teacher and musicologist.  Click here to get the free companion book to this blog.  See his other sites at and 

© 2011 Keyed Up Inc

Monday, May 16, 2011

Thinking in the Music Galaxy

Playing by ear is easy after you learn command of the 24 basic chords and their inversions.  Keep adding new ones until you’ve gone through all 12 majors and minors.  It’s okay to play well in certain keys and not in others.

In the beginning, it’s more important to get a good feel for what it means to be good on the instrument.  Once you master a comfortable key, you are able to approach harder keys with greater confidence.

Make The Decision

The only thing standing in the way of your success is resolution to devote quality time to learning the basic chords.  You can do it in about a month if you put your mind to it.  To take control of your lifetime learning process, you’ve got to practice.  Do it everyday. 

Study the chords and their patterns.  Work on ones you don’t know and memorize the positions.  Test and drill yourself as you analyze what you are doing.  Work your own math, figure things out and ask yourself the hard questions.  Become a motivated, inquisitive student to learn what you must.  The answer is there and you've got to keep looking for it.  Always look for deep answers to simple questions.  Ask me anything if you get confused.

But it's totally up to you how motivated you are to MAKE THAT DECISION. 

When you reach command of the basic chords, you'll know you are good on the piano.  That’s when your entire world opens up.  At that point you realize you can get as good as you want (if you are willing).  Furthermore, you can go in any direction you want with confidence that otherwise would be empty without command.

Confidence Issues

People with command often underestimate their control over the instrument.  “I can’t improvise.”  is a common lament.  Improvisation comes with time, effort and experience.  Gauge your abilities on how long you've been in command.  Be aware of the accelerated type of knowledge you use to teach yourself to get better.  You are a rare person of exceptional potential because of what you know. 

Reread the previous post “The Musical Universe” and immerse yourself into that information.  You must keep this in the forefront of your mind and not allow yourself to backtrack to traditional trappings.  If you want to lead then you must follow the numbers path.  Learn this and the rest of your piano days will be bright and rosy.

People tend to get hung up on so many notes and keys to keep track of because they cannot shake “96-concept” thinking.  Discard your dependence on alpha tones and laser-focus only on the 8-note order.   That's what puts order to the Musical Universe.

"Exploded Engine," a sculpture by Rudolph de Harak,

Music theory is just like anything else you might not fully understand.  An engine, for example, is a bit complicated but -once broken down and explained- makes perfect sense.

There’s a technology to music the same.  While the product of music theory is infinite, the interactive components of the technology are concise and limited.

Numerically, all theories you use to keep track of where you are, are all rooted in 8-Concept thinking.  Transposing, modulation, key signatures, melody lines, progressions and more all use the same measure and rely on your insider view of the major scale.  Do not view any of the theories as singular to themselves, they are not.  They are merely tributaries to the major scale; offshoots totally dependent upon 8-Concept thinking as well.

Atlas Ability

It is very very powerful to realize you can control such a big instrument with proper 8-Concept thinking.  THAT, my friends is how playing the piano is easy.  You quickly get to a point where your mind plays better than your fingers do.  As you gain experience, the concept becomes a part of your being.  However, in the beginning you must continually look to the major scale for answers. 

Some think that piano talent is a kind of mystical “gift.”  Any play-by-ear, piano-bar musician out there knows how to get around.  Style aside, anybody that’s good knows the math of music.  It’s not a willy-nilly, just-get-a-feel-for-it kind of thing.  It’s a simple mathematical science that is the roadmap to getting around.

For most seasoned musicians it’s been a long road to 8-Concept awareness.  For you it’s a turbo-boost to your musicianship.

The only thing you have to do is realize it.


Joseph Pingel is a pianist, teacher and musicologist.  Click here to get the free companion book to this blog.  See his other sites at and 

© 2011 Keyed Up Inc

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mapping Out The Music Galaxy

This post is going to give you an enormous insight into music that has never been revealed before.  It is the most powerful understanding of Command.  This simple concept takes people a lifetime to learn IF EVER.  You’d think it to be such an easy understanding that there’s no use in discussing it and in fact, that’s exactly what happens.

Playing By Ear is Your Ability to 
Control 8 Notes 

People think they understand this but are totally clueless to the magnitude of influence the 8 notes (of the scale) have on the governing theories of music:

1.    Mapping the key to keep track of where you are;
2.    Building chords (1-3-5-7-etc);
3.    Transposing progressions (numerically and tonally);
4.    Figuring progressive orders of the keys (circle of fifths);
5.    Figuring progressive orders of notations (adding sharps and flats);
6.    Identifying the key on sight;
7.    Modulation from one key to another and back;
8.    Figuring the 6 guidepost chords of any key quickly;
9.    Combining Major and Minor key signatures
10.   Figuring out the most logical order of notes to a melody.

"8" is the number of music.  8 is also an infinity sign.  When you truly understand the many ways that 8 controls music, you will rule music. 

The Major Scale is the SEED

 “How can it be so simple?” you ask. 

The “8-Concept” seems so obvious that no one thinks it’s important enough to teach.  They teach the facts of the major scale and figure you’ve got it.  Trouble is, you might "get it" but certainly don't understand it.  The major scale's influence cannot be sidestepped.  In fact, the major scale is the most important part of music and deserves MUCH study.

But that’s not what we do. We do nothing.

Analyze this subject HARD!!!  Really comprehend the ENORMOUS leap in knowledge this conceptual-understanding gives you to CONTROL music.  It’s far beyond the surface-facts of the book-learned definition of a major scale.

If when you’re through here, you don’t see it, LOOK HARDER until you do.  It may take a while for this concept to sink in so always look for answers in this direction.  When you get it, you'll know it.  You'll feel a sense of enlightenment and overwhelm to the infinite possibilities.  Things make sense.

Higher levels of musicianship understand this through their long experience (though they may not be able to define it).  But most musicians never discover the controlling insights of the number 8.

For you, knowing about it up-front makes a huge difference.  It puts you in control.  It simplifies the process and gives you direction and hope.

96 Confuses 

 There are 12 keys with a different 8 notes for each.  All keys use different notes -sharp or flat- that follow the C pattern numerically. 

The hardest thing to overcome is your misguided attention to only thinking of music tonally (C, D, E, F, G, A, B).

With “Tonal Thinking," you must keep track of 96 different notes over 12 keys. You can’t add, subtract or manipulate alpha characters like you can numbers.  The “96 Concept" is very difficult learn and takes years of study and hard work to master.

This has been the mindset for standard piano lessons through the ages and remains the mindset of the music industry today.  This way of thinking teaches you to follow but not lead and stands in the way of your rapid progress.  You must discard  your dependence upon "Tonal Thinking" and be free of this anchor if you want to be free on the piano. 

8 Controls 

The key of C is made up of 8 white notes that lay side by side in a specific numeric order.  With 8 numbers you manipulate and control music.  The 8-note-order of all major scales are the same and follow one simple order.

There are half steps between the 3/4 and 7/8 intervals.  All the rest are whole steps.

That’s the numerical formula for all keys.

The only reason we use sharps and flats (black notes) is that, when we change the position of the root note (C above) to start on D, the numerical order must likewise, shift physically to adjust to the different position it holds on the keyboard relative to C.  We use sharps or flats simply to maintain the numerical order.  

The key of C is the most-obvious template to study.  “Template” in that all keys follow the exact same 8-note order.  There are 12 keys but only one, single numerical order that lets you understand and control them all equally.  This 12:1 ratio is what gives you tremendous leverage and command over music.

The names of the actual tones of the scale order change between keys but the numbers always stay the same.  If it applies to C, it applies to any other key the same.  With numbers, the key doesn’t matter.  Numerically there is no sharp or flat; only 1 through 8.  They're all the same.

Two Names!

Accept that we think of notes as both both alpha-scale tones and numbers at the same time.  The alpha names change as the keys change but the numerical order always stays the same.  The numbers are symbolics for whatever note of whatever scale may be at that position. 

 “8-Concept” thinking lets you keep track of where you are, where you're going and the millions of ways to get there.  You control it all with 8 notes.

Your mind should be racing about the infinite possibilities surrounding the number 8.  If not, then read this post over several times and keep looking until you find it.The "8-Concept" is the map you will use for the rest of your life as you travel your musical expeditions.  

Joseph Pingel is a pianist, teacher and musicologist.  Click here to get the free companion book to this blog.  See his other sites at and 

© 2011 Keyed Up Inc