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Music By Thinking:
Home Piano Course


Library of Congress ISBN #: 04570463

(excerpt from the course)

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|| Why This Course || Understanding This Book || Who This Book Is For ||
|| Choosing a Keyboard || Learning the Keyboard Layout || 


     Welcome to MUSIC BY THINKING.

     This course is designed to teach you the principles involved in playing music on a keyboard.

     This book is divided into the following sections:

1. THEORY -- This section teaches you about the keyboard, common music terms, proper body positions, and special terms that will be used throughout the rest of the book.

2. READING -- This section teaches you basic knowledge about reading music and about chord progression.

3. PRINCIPLES FOR PLAYING -- This section gives ideas about how to listen to music, steps for finding notes, and steps to finding the key to a song. It also gives the principles that will allow you to play by thinking. THIS IS THE HEART OF WHAT THIS COURSE IS ALL ABOUT.

4. A LESSON -- This section connects the previous three sections together and gives an orderly progression for learning to play.

     Read all the sections before getting too far into practicing the lessons. The course is designed for you to start practicing immediately. However, you will need to have a basic idea of all the other information in the book to gain the best understanding of music.


     There are very few music courses on the market that prepare or train the gospel musician to adequately perform gospel music. Neither are there courses to train people to play the piano without requiring them to read music. The reason for the former is that most gospel music is performed spontaneously without the aid of sheet music. Even when pre-printed music is used, the music is normally modified to fit the choir. The purpose of these instructions are to help directors, musicians, and AVERAGE EVERYDAY PEOPLE cultivate the skills necessary to perform gospel or any other type of music.

     THERE IS A LOGIC TO MUSIC. I will break music down to principles in this book. By memorizing the principles that I set forth, you will be able to learn the keyboard and start playing music in a short period of time.

     Instead of having to read music from sheet music, you will be able to understand the basic theory behind how the music was originally composed. With this knowledge, you will be able to recreate the music in your own style. You will now become the composer.

     However, the quality and skill to which you master the keyboard will be dependent upon yourself. I will show you the secrets. It will be up to you to memorize and apply each principle, practice each technique, and put it all together. I'm trying to eliminate the guess work by putting forth ideas in a down-home, common sense language.

     You will find that playing Gospel Music is similar to Jazz. The similarity is that many of its rhythms and chord progressions are created as one plays.

     The purpose of this book is to teach you principles that can be easily memorized. By memorizing certain principles and gaining a broader understanding of music and your instrument, you can become even more proficient and create your own style of music.


     I pray that this book will open the doors to a more wonderful and meaningful worship of the Lord through Music.


     The language you will find in this book is a common everyday language. I am using everyday terms to try and explain ideas that are sometimes difficult to understand.

     To really benefit from this book, it is not enough to simply do what I explain. You will need to look at each idea separately and try to understand and memorize it. Don't try to move too fast.

     Keep looking at the ideas and examples until you have a good understanding of exactly what I'm trying to say. Play movements on the piano until you are comfortable (this could take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks depending on how much you practice.) Don't go on to the next idea until you can understand and comfortably play the preceding idea.

     I start with a basic foundation: the scale. I explain the scale and then use the scale as a basis for teaching you principles that you can use to create music.


     This book is not for people that want to learn how to play written music in a formal setting. Some of the ideas discussed in this book are contrary to those found in formal training. It is not designed to produce an accomplished classical pianist. I recommend that someone who desires to play classical music or written music correctly, find a good piano teacher.

     This book is written for those who just want to play music because of their love for it. It is written for those who neither have the time or desire to learn to play written music. It is written for those who have absolutely no knowledge of music or of a musical instrument. It is also written for those who aspire to be a choir/church musician but have been thwarted by a lack of knowledge or access to a good piano teacher. If you fit this category, then maybe this course is for you.

     Well, it is time to begin. HAVE FUN LEARNING MUSIC.

     May God bless you in your endeavor to play piano.



2. Choosing a Keyboard for Practice (For Beginners)

     If at all possible, try to use a real piano. The reason I recommend a real piano is that by playing it, you will get to develop finger strength and dexterity. The next option would be to buy a keyboard that has full-sized keys and is touch sensitive (it gets louder or softer depending on how hard or soft you strike it.) If you can't get a touch sensitive keyboard, then get one with full-sized keys. As a last alternative, get a small keyboard with mini-sized keys. On the other hand, use whatever you have within your means. Once you decide that you're serious, you can begin to read information on keyboards and talk to dealers.

     Features are nice, but at this point, your primary concern will be to get something to practice on.

     A full size piano has 88 keys. There are 36 black keys and 52 white keys. When these keys are depressed, they cause the hammers in the piano to strike the strings thus producing the sound (SEE VISUAL DEMONSTRATION IN VIDEO.)

     Most electronic keyboards have 61 or fewer keys. On these keyboards, when the keys are depressed, they activate electronic circuits which create the sound.

3. Learning the Keyboard

     Let's talk about the keyboard itself for a moment. We will need to gain an understanding of the instrument if we are to fully utilize it.

A. Layout of Keys on the Keyboard

     The first step is to become familiar with the keyboard.

     Notice that there are alternating groups of two black keys and then three black keys. This pattern is consistent throughout the keyboard.

B. Names of Notes on the Keyboard

     The notes on the keyboard are named by using the first seven letters of the alphabet: A, B, C, D, E, F and G.


     All the white keys reflect these notes of the alphabet. After G, the cycle repeats itself and starts with A again.

     The black notes take the name of the white notes on both sides of it. For example, the note between the G and the A can be called either G# (read G Sharp) or Ab (read A flat.)

NOTE: Flats and Sharps are musical terms which will be discussed in the next section.

     The MIDDLE C is located at the center of the piano. Normally, the name of the piano is placed directly above the MIDDLE C. The expression pedals (see para f. below) are aligned around the center of the keyboard also (40th key from the left on a full size keyboard is MIDDLE C.)

C. 12 Notes on the Keyboard

     Please notice that there are 12 notes on the keyboard (these notes (tones) are repeated throughout the keyboard.) I've numbered them in Figure 1. THE BLACK NOTES ARE NOTES ALSO, DON'T OVER LOOK THEM. WHEN I SAY TO PLAY THE NEXT NOTE, DON'T FORGET TO INCLUDE THE BLACK NOTES.

     Getting this down now in your mind will save us all a lot of confusion later on. Thanks.

     Also notice that the 12 notes repeat themselves over and over as you go up and down the keyboard.

D. Up/Down the Keyboard

     As I write about playing the keyboard, I will refer to playing up and down the keyboard.

     UP THE KEYBOARD means to move to the right. As you play in this direction, you will notice that the pitch (sound) is getting higher (goes UP.)

     DOWN THE KEYBOARD means to move to the LEFT. As you play in this direction, you will notice that the pitch (sound) is getting lower (goes DOWN.)

E. Raising/Lowering Notes

     These words will be used to refer to flats and sharps.

     RAISE means to move to the RIGHT the number of STEPs (see para 4.c. for a definition of STEP) indicated. For example, a C# means to play the note that is 1/2 step higher than C.

     LOWER means to move to the LEFT the number of STEPs indicated. For example, Eb means to play the note that is 1/2 STEP lower than the E.

F. Expression Pedals

     On a regular piano you have two pedals that are called expression pedals. The use of these will enhance the quality of your music.

i. Sustain (Right) Pedal

     The right pedal is the sustain pedal. When your press down on this pedal it will allow the sound to continue after you release the keys.

     When you strike a key, you cause a hammer to strike the strings for that particular note. As the hammer strikes the strings, the damper that prevents the strings from ringing (creating a sound) is lifted away from the strings for that note. As long as you hold that key down, that note will ring and produce a sound. As soon as you release the key, the damper will fall back down on the strings causing the sound to stop (SEE DEMONSTRATION ON VIDEO TAPE.)

     When you press the sustain pedal, it holds all the dampers up until you release the pedal. With the sustain pedal down, you can strike a note and release it and the note will continue to sound because the dampers are all up.

     On electronic keyboards, this effect is duplicated electronically when you press the sustain pedal that is plugged into the keyboard.

ii. Damper (Left) Pedal

     This pedal allows you to play softer by dampening the keyboard's sound. It accomplishes this by shifting the hammers so that they only strike 1 string (SEE DEMONSTRATION ON VIDEO TAPE.)

     Most notes are created by three strings (BASS notes generally have two strings.) When you strike a key, it causes the hammer to strike the strings that produce that one note.

     When you press the damper pedal, it moves all the hammers over so they strike only one string per note (hammer.) This produces a much quieter, softer sound.

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Author Rev. Kelvin Franklin, 
Title of Book Music By Thinking, Home Piano Course
ISBN 04570463

Copyright December 1991by  KC Enterprises.  All right reserved.


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