View Full Version : Piano Skills

04-02-2009, 07:57 AM
Hi Everyone, I was hoping to get a bit of advice..

I'm currently taking piano lessons as well as theory lessons. I'm playing around a grade three/four level. My question is, how important are piano/keyboard skills when it comes to composing, doing mock ups etc? How long should I keep studying piano until, grade 6? Grade 8? At what point should I focus all of my attention on theory (harmony, counter point) and orchestration?

There are a lot of experienced composers on this forum and I would love to hear your opinion.


Mike B.

04-02-2009, 08:10 AM
I would advise you to go as high as you can for both. They are both necessities. Gives you a very firm understanding as well as makes your life easier composing. I stopped taking my Theory at Grade 6 but completed my Piano; but now I'm thinking of taking Theory all the way as well. I've gotten pretty rusty..

04-02-2009, 08:11 AM
The better you are at piano and all aspects of theory - the better you will be as a composer. It is possible to be a good composer and not play piano - but it is not as common. Plus you should aquire skills with the keys to aid you with note input / music production, etc.

04-02-2009, 10:04 AM
Thank you both for replying. I think I'll go for at least another year with the piano. As for the theory, it seems it's going to be an on going thing.

Thanks again,


04-02-2009, 10:21 AM
Keep playing! :)

I find playing parts live when doing mock-ups adds a lot of realism. Obviously the better ones piano/keyboard skills the easier this is to accomplish.


04-02-2009, 12:44 PM
Plus it's faster :)

04-03-2009, 05:58 AM
Thanks everyone! The original reason that I started taking piano lessons is because I always found my self having to pencil in the majority of my notes, it was really annoying. At just a grade 3/4 level there has already been a great improvement. I can't wait until I'm at a 7/8 level, things will be so much faster and much more fun. Plus I'm really enjoying the process.

Mike B.

04-03-2009, 06:19 AM
I'm playing piano since 10+ years,but later I recogniced that I'm way more better in composing.

Yeah,piano skills help you alot in composing.Espacily when you 're playing scales and stuff.It definetly sucks if you have an idea in mind but can't play it and have to write it in the piano roll.

Btw,most people think that you are something special if you can play the piano properly but actualy piano playing is a thing that EVERYONE can do(composing is not :))
Though improving piano skills takes a lot of time and unbelivable discipline and efort.

04-03-2009, 10:14 AM
most people think that you are something special if you can play the piano properly but actualy piano playing is a thing that EVERYONE can do(composing is not :))
... er ... well ... I suppose it depends on what you mean by piano playing. I'm never going to sound like a concert pianist - not even like my high school music teacher - or like Bill Evans playing something simple-sounding, or like a whole lot of good pianists. But I also believe there's a lot of people who could never learn the piano even to my rather compromised standard.

A maths student friend of mine at University decided he wanted to play the Moonlight Sonata slow movement. With no previous experience of playing, or of reading music, he just knuckled down and learnt the notes, a few at a time, until he could play all through it. Quite an achievement, I thought. But if you were going to buy a record of that piece, you wouldn't want one of him playing it.

On the other hand, I've known people who've gone through some conventional classical training and can play difficult pieces well, but are totally reliant on having sheet music in order to be able to play - with little chance of playing even a simple melody by ear, let alone adding a passable accompaniment, even given plenty time to work it out. I don't know whether any were natural musicians who had their abilities wiped out by being made to play only from sheet music, but I do know some just achieved a good standard by practice, in the absence of any natural musicianship. To that extent, that might seem to support, a little, your claim that piano playing is something that everyone can do. But I'm pretty sure there'll be a lot of people who've tried but failed to get much past the basics.