If you’ve ever thought about learning how to play the piano a bit better for the sake of your music production skills, you’re not alone. I recently picked up a copy of PianoForAll, which is one of the most popular online programs for teaching absolute beginners how to play the piano.
In terms of the overall price, value, and efficiency, Piano For All is easily the best program on the internet for learning how to play the piano.
Piano For All, which you can grab from their website here, offers a ton of value for the price, which is the number one reason why I’ve recommended it to you today.
Piano For All – For Music Producers
If you’ve ever explored the music producer side of Instagram and other social media platforms, you’ll know that the average understanding of music theory and standard notation is quite low, and it’s somewhat of a meme among producers.
People on the internet take a lot of pride in the fact they don’t understand basic music theory concepts and don’t know how to read music. Frankly, that’s just fine, because you don’t need to know how to play the piano or read music to make great music.
Some of the greatest musicians of all time didn’t have much formal training or music theory knowledge.
Many of them, however, had a phenomenal ear from years of playing alongside other people and practicing on a regular basis.
Regardless, most producers who want to have a better grasp of the piano are interested in just the nuts and bolts of piano-playing, rather than sophisticated harmony, counterpoint, etc.
For that reason, I’d argue that PianoForAll is the perfect program for music producers because it almost seems like they created it exactly for us (how to use Garageband’s piano roll in my guide).
Piano For All seems to be created with one goal in mind: to get you started playing the piano and sounding fairly good almost right away.
This is perfect for the average music producer because the vast majority of us don’t have intentions of playing like Beethoven or Mozart; we just want to have a better grasp of the instrument so we’re better equipped for using the MIDI Keyboard.
Moreover, Piano For All uses a different approach for learning how to play the piano that I, myself, would recommend.
If you’ve read any of my other articles or watched my YouTube videos, you’d know that I typically talk about the importance of learning basic chords, rather than more complicated theoretical concepts.
The maker of Piano For All chose the same approach.
Furthermore, the beginning of each book tells you how to approach the content exactly.
Watch the videos first with your keyboard in hand and then attack the text after.
What Gear You Need To Get Started
- Metronome (Use a real one or the one included in most DAWs).
For learning how to play the piano, you have to abandon the idea of just using a 25-key MIDI keyboard.
It’s best to start out with at least a 49-keyboard or larger, for instance, this Arturia KeyLab 88 from ZZounds is one of the most popular premium keyboards on the market, however, if you’re on a budget, this M-Audio Keystation 49 from Amazon is a great choice.
With that said, if you’re really serious about learning how to play the piano at a level that’s far beyond the average music producer, I’d recommend going all the way up to a 61 or 88-key MIDI keyboard with weighted keys like the KeyLab I mentioned above, that way you’re able to learn proper technique and finger strength. You can download the program with both Mac and PC, so there are no issues there.
What Piano For All Includes
- 9 E-Books
- 200 Video Lessons embedded across the E-Books.
- 500 Audio Files and Exercises (Audio files are included alongside each exercise so you know what the musical notation actually sounds like when played).
Each book explores a different genre, while simultaneously walking through various aspects of music theory and notation, but without getting slowed down by details.
For instance, the first book is called Rhythm Style Piano.
1) Rhythm Style Piano
The very first book in the program is the first step into piano playing and it’s all about showing you the basics, including chords and rhythms.
It starts out just by showing the notes of the keyboard, and then immediately moves on to basic triads, which is exactly what I would’ve done had I created this program.
The two most important things for someone to understand when first starting out are triads and knowing the notes of the keyboard which is frankly, not that sophisticated.
Because of the way the piano is designed, all you have to do is know the names of the keys in one octave, and then you can apply that knowledge to the entire keyboard.
Triads are the next important thing because triads are like the foundational building blocks of Western music theory.
The very first chapter in this program does just that.
It emphasizes the importance of just learning the instrument first before moving onto more sophisticated theoretical concepts and principles like modes, for example, which I’ve simplistically explained before in my guide.
The first book also walks you through musical notation, in addition to the way in which one might apply various chords across musical genres and contexts.
2) Blues and Rock and Roll
The second book in Piano For All is all about showing basic blues rhythms using some of the chords introduced in the first book.
As examples, the author has chosen tracks from Jerry Lee Lewis and also a line reminiscent of the 1978 Blues Brothers movie starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.
One of the primary things this book explores is the idea of practicing the left-hand more than the right hand.
The second book is very short in comparison to the first book, but its primary goal appears to teach the student a basic understanding of simple blues rhythms.
Additionally, it shows how to play the 12-bar-blues in all key signatures, which is going to come in handy for a number of reasons, including how to transpose your own melodies across different key signatures and also for understanding how these different keys look on the piano.
3) Chord Magic
The third book in the program starts to get denser, including the exploration of chords in every single key in addition to their inversions.
To help readers understand what’s being taught, it walks you through the “All Chords Memory Trick,” which shows you how to actually memorize what you’ve learned.
I like the way the author chose to explain inversions, which is done in a common-sense way including helpful diagrams and simple ways of looking at it without getting bogged down by theory.
Furthermore, this book explores the “circle of fifths,” which is one of the most fundamental concepts in music theory for its demonstration of the relationship between major and minor key signatures as well as the number of flats and sharps in each key signature.
4) Advanced Chords Made Easy
The fourth book is all about understanding chord symbols and learning how to play them on the piano.
Considering this section of the book is more sophisticated theoretically, there is a bit more attention to detail in terms of how to understand chords in relation to scales.
Additionally, it talks about diminished chords and cluster chords, with a few practice routines to help you understand how to use and remember them.
5) Ballad Style
The purpose of the fifth book is for playing ballads and understanding how to create your own. It urges for experimentation through the use of left-hand patterns accompanied by the pentatonic scale.
I think this book is particularly useful for music producers because it explores how to go about creating your own melodies, which is practically essential for any beat-maker or general producer.
The vast majority of beat-makers out there are concerned primarily with three things: a great bass-line, a solid drum/rhythm section, and a great melody, and I think this book is decent at showing how to go about creating your own melody through experimentation.
Furthermore, the fifth book walks through left-hand patterns and other commonly used chord progressions.
It also includes sheet music for several songs that are nice to learn.
6 All That Jazz and Blues
The purpose of the sixth book is laying a solid foundation for the understanding of blues and jazz, which is arguably more useful for music producers than classical, which is commonly the most taught genre for piano players.
Frankly, hip-hop, pop music, reggae, EDM, and R&B almost never use elements of classical music, so I think that, because of its emphasis on these particular genres, Piano For All is ideal for understanding contemporary music.
The sixth book includes blues sounds, including chords, scales, before finally exploring jazz instead.
Instead of being pushed toward understand increasingly complex jazz rhythms, the book claims that it’s a better idea to just analyze the audio recordings for the sake of imitation.
Afterward, it explores seventh chords, which are crucial in today’s musical landscape.
If you’re a fan of Drake or are at least aware of his influence on the popular culture, understand that music producers who work with him and other artists commonly use the Dorian mode which is typically associated with Minor Seventh chords, in fact, I’ve talked about this before in my beat-making guide.
The seventh book in this course explores seventh chords in addition to quartal harmony, however, the former is more important than the latter in my opinion.
7) Advanced Blues and Fake Stride
The seventh book in the series continues by taking advanced chord knowledge and applying it to the previous blues rhythms explored in the last section.
Some of the other ideas that it teaches are things like turnarounds, slides, and tremolo.
8) Taming The Classics
This book touches on some of the previously mentioned concepts, including musical language, other symbols, key signatures, in addition to musical notation, moreover, Mark Sarnecki’s Complete Elementary Music Rudiments as well as the Answer Book from Amazon are great supplemental learning on the side of Piano For All.
This is probably the section of the book that explores musical notation the most, so it’s worth mentioning that if you want to know how to read music at least on the basic level, it would be worth going through this section multiple times.
With that said, it’s not going to make you an expert, but that’s not the goal anyway. We just want to have a basic understanding of these concepts to help guide us in the music production process, without getting bogged down by technicalities and sophistication.
9) Speed Learning
This section goes on to teach some of the greatest parts of learning an instrument, not only for the piano but also for the guitar (by the way, I use the PRS SE Custom 24 from ZZounds).
In other words, while it doesn’t talk about the guitar specifically, it talks about what I think are some of the greatest things to learn on an instrument, such as arpeggios, triads, and scales.
The aforementioned three aspects of music theory are probably the most useful, in my opinion.
An arpeggio is essentially the notes played individually and one after the other, rather than playing them all at once.
With the piano, arpeggios are especially easy to see, understand, and hear, because if you’ve learned the notes of the keyboard, it’s easy to then play that chord up and down the keyboard without much thinking or memorization.
A triad is just a three-note chord, which, as I mentioned earlier in this article, is kind of like the building block of music theory and notation.
Scales are equally as important as the last two because they can teach you what note would sound good next in a melodic phrase, and it also gives you an idea of how to go about constructing your own chords that would sound great in a particular key.
This book also shows other routines and memorization tricks to help you with your playing, in addition to exploring once again key signatures, melodies, seventh chords, and triads.
YouTube Video Review and Tutorial
All-in-all, I think that Piano For All is a great program for getting started on the piano, primarily for the sake of at least having an understanding of very basic music theory and the piano, which will help for making beats and other songs in a variety of genres.
My only gripe with this book, however, is that it doesn’t talk about other genres that are more relevant in the modern era, like rhythm and blues, rap and hip-hop, metal, and EDM. However, most teachers don’t explore these genres anyway.