Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Keyboard is NOT a Piano

The two things are different despite the Internet!

I just returned from "googling" using these search terms"keyboard lessons _______ (my area of this planet" and "keyboard teacher________" and I mostly found piano lessons and training.

Friends, despite the obvious advantages of a keyboard, it is NOT a piano. Sure, I know that the piano has been around for 300 years at least and has much better "press."

But a keyboard is NOT a piano.

I think that the fact that folks are buying more keyboards these days is a good thing.


Well, as I said above, the advantages are obvious. The primary one seems to be that the things are cheaper than "real" piano (one of my students pointed out that the opposite of "real" is "imaginary" but so many folks substitute "real" for "acoustic" that I'm using it.)

What I do NOT care for at all is the insistence of too many piano teachers that:

1. Mostly children can learn,
2. That you have to learn from a "real" piano.

Those few teachers that allow keyboards (more and more these days!) only use them to teach piano.

Too bad, as...

...there's one disadvantage of  a piano which you may not have thought of.

Now I used to work at one of the best local piano stores and I've played possibly the world's best pianos (as I define the term "best.")

These pianos only made one single sound, the sound of a piano. It's a fine sound but it's only one sound.

Keyboards make more sounds than that.

I do not wish to limit my musical creativity to a single sound, regardless of how good it is.

Why You Can Not Get Free Online Training in Playing

This may come as a shock to some!

In order to help online for free, most instructors try to generalize a student, THEIR idea of a student.

Then their work, whether video or manual, starts with that "generalized student." Usually, this is a person who will purchase their course or whatever. and other such sites are great for learning IF the circumstances permit it.

Who knows, you might not have a computer at home to listen and watch.

Listening to music can be a part of your learning experience. Notice I said it "can be" but it doesn't have to be.

Honestly, if you want personalized service, whether instruction or performance, you will have to seek out a PERSON who can listen to you.

If you want instruction, it's worthwhile to phone some teachers. Do not take a class or anything that requires the instructor to not take your special needs into consideration.

If it's performance, then you know what your people like, whomever "they" are, and can tell the performer what that is.

I, personally, always start my services with an interview so I know what the student is seeking and how they best learn.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Where to Get Help

Dan Starr's Contact Info has changed as follows: is now

I would prefer you contact me via email (so I can consider your request carefully. Also, so I can answer in my underwear.)

If you simply must phone me, the number you have is likely wrong - the correct number is (520) 275-0031.

Leave a message if you don't get me live.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

More About "The Blues"

There are many "blues scales" (which can be played on the right hand.)

Now there is no denying that many instructors know only one. It is the one they were taught to play and thus they erroneously call it "the" blues scale.

However, this is NOT the case as there are many different versions of this scale.

The one I have chosen to teach you today I call the "simple blues scale." That's cause it is.

Simple, I mean. It's limited only by your personal creativity when applied to patterns.

It's what you right hand plays while the left hand is doing those chords I told you about in the last article.

It's made up of only six notes, Plus, you don't even have to change them when the left hand changes chords.

I mean you can, but you don't have to.

That's cause this particular scale is made up of the three roots of the three chords that make up the blues progression.

If you don't understand this last sentence, then the words you likely are having problems with are "roots" and "blues progression."

Let's stay with very simple, huh?

"Roots" are the main notes of the chords involved. The chords are usually named for their roots. (I'm gonna assume you know what a "chord" is - if not then put that in a comment below and I will answer.) For example, the roots in E7 and Am are E and A.

The "Blues Progression" was given HERE (click the link!)

Thus, the first three notes (in C) are C, F, and G.

The other three notes are blue notes.

Now these are totally new to my readers. They are notes that people have come to associate with blues (for various reasons which we won't go into here.)

These are (again for C Major) the notes Eb, Gb, and Bb. In other words, the flatted third note, the flatted 5th note and the flatted 7th note of the C Major Scale.

Thus, my "simple blues scale" has the three roots of the blues progression plus the 3 blue notes for a total of six notes, C Eb, F, Gb, G, and Bb, most of these notes can be reached with one hand.

Now whatever Major Scale you are using, ]the Blue Notes are always these. And the blues progression is always what I said.

Some songs sound "bluesy" without actually being blues, and that's cause they have numerous "blue notes." "Birth of the Blues" is one such.

You have the notes to use now. What you do with them is completely up to you. This blues scale is called by me "the simple blues scale" since it is so very simple and you don't even have to change the scale when the chords change.

If you have understood me on this you can likely tell me why it works as it does.

Monday, September 22, 2014


It's a truly popular thing!

Thus, I thought it would be great if I could say something useful about it, something that would help keyboard and chord people play it.

First we will deal with the chords.

Blues is pretty simple. It's what's known in the music business as I, IV, and V.

It is a bit different in that most blues follows a 12 measure pattern (this is compared to the usual 8, 16, 32, measure patterns of western music.)

Blues works like this:

First you determine the key of the music. Now this might be given but if you can "sus out" the final chord you will have the "key" of the music. For instance if the final chord is E7 then the music is in E.

In the Key of E Major, the three chords are I = E or E7, IV = A or A7, and V = B or B7. (A word about that Seventh chord below.)

By the way, "Blues in E" is the most common way to play the blues using guitar (due to it's tuning)
that when folks can't find a common song to play, they will sometimes resort to playing it.

Secondly, you decide on a pattern. This can be anything but is usually what the person is familiar with.

You play that pattern with the I chord 4 times. In E, you play the E or E7 chord 4 times

Then you switch to the IV chord for the next 2 times. In E, that's the A or A7 chord.

Then you return to playing the I chord 2 more times (E or E7)

Then the V chord once (the B or B7 chord.)

The IV chord one time (A or A7)

The I chord once.

Finally, it gets somewhat complicated - not really complicated but somewhat more so. If you want to repeat the pattern of 12 measures again you play the V chord again. If you do NOT want to do a repeat of these measures, then the 12 measure should be a repeat of the I chord. A repeat of the 12 measures is sometimes called a "chorus."

Now many folks will be find the above adequate.

Some won't and for these people I offer the next post which will cover what to do with your RH and the blues scale.

I will whet you appetite for this by telling readers that there are many different blues scales, not just one.

If you have been trained by someone who claimed to teach you THE blues scale, you might be confused by the fact that your next trainer taught you something different but called it the same thing.

Is this article worthwhile for you? Does it help you with the blues? Leave me a message below.