When I first dove into my synth hobby several years ago, it started by picking up an electronic keyboard so that I could play some tunes again. But although I could play quite a few tunes and my Casio also provided several tutorials to learn even more I still wasn’t satisfied. Learning how to (re)play something is one thing, understanding how the tune is ‘build’ is something completely different.
And so I started to search the Internet for something useful. My goal was to find a keyboard (or piano) course which would teach me some of the basics which I could then use into my own work. Most of all I was looking for something I could follow in my own time and pase, something not too expensive and which would help me to actually gain some basic understanding. I could do the rest myself easily, especially with the synth gear I nowadays have. I found just that. And after 2 years I can say that it really works too. And that’s what I’ll be sharing with you guys today; my review on the Piano for All piano / keyboard course.
Piano For All
Piano for All is a website which has been online since 2006 and features a piano course designed by Robin Hall. I’ve picked up this course in 2009 because I was immediately intrigued with the promises made on his website, I quote: “Pianoforall lays a FOUNDATION that can be applied in ANY direction and any musical style. When you learned how to read and write you didn’t just learn other peoples sentences – you learned the alphabet so that you could construct your OWN sentences. Pianoforall gives you the tools to play whatever style you want.“.
That immediately fascinated me to no end since this was exactly what I was searching for. I can learn at my own pase, I can even easily apply my new skills in ways which I see fit. Just give me the basics..
How does it work ?
Piano for All is a piano course which consists of 10 ‘e-books’ (PDF files) which contain both the stuff for you to learn as well as links to included audio and video example material which can be used to show you how to perform a certain given study task.
The study is build into a very specific structure which you can see at the top of this article; the first four lessons form the foundation or basis of your study. The next three books (5 to 7) expand on this by introducing you to several variations in several playing styles (from Ballads which tend to be slow(er) to somewhat faster Jazz and Blues styles). Then its onto more practice to get a good feeling for structure(s) in several classical songs; in books 8 and 9 Robin breaks down several classics by revealing the patterns these songs were build with and how you can use these on your own. These are the last books with actual studio material.
The conclusion in book 10 was a little bit of a let down for me because it felt dated. When talking about Cubase 3 (dated 2005) around 2009 (when I picked up the course) and seemingly ignoring stuff such as Ableton and Reason (which IMO provide more for less money) you get that feeling. Also when you read that the book was meant to be kept up to date. But here’s the thing; when you reached this stage you honestly don’t care all that much. At least I didn’t, even being the critic that I am. Because when you reached this point you learned so much useful tricks and insights to build your own skills and how to expand on them through variations…
Robin Hall ‘cheats’
In both ways; through his sales process and the study material being provided. Not really cheating of course, but it is a nice trick IMO. An example of the first can be seen here, I took the liberty of picking up a picture which is being made available through the Piano for All affiliate program. Stuff which can be used by re-sellers of the study.
I’ll go on the record (again): $39,- (a bit less in Euro’s) is well paid for this course. Of course the “today just…” is a bit stretching but hey; each to his own. Piano for All has been $39,- ever since I picked it up around 2009 and its well worth the investment, this stuff can work for you.
Just for the record: Synthfan.info is not a PianoForAll re-seller or affiliate. Not because I’m opposed to the idea or anything, but because its too much of a hassle for me. But Synthfan.info is a true believer into the way Piano for All works (and you may quote me on that).
I’ve said it in a few forums already, I’ll go more public now: would it have been $79,- I would have had some doubts. It is very good material, but I’m just not too sure if its worth that much. But at its current price it is IMO well worth it.
As to point two…
I’m taking a little risk by providing this material snippet on my site without even asking (worse: while knowing there’s a big chance Robin might be reading this too some time) but that is the way you guys know me. If Robin for whatever reason doesn’t agree the above example goes and then you (early viewers) were extra lucky 😉
But this is a good view into the kitchen which is Piano for All. It teaches you invaluable tricks which you can use as a basis to expand on. Don’t forget: there are no extra points for style in music, when it comes down then all which matters is the way it sounds. Which make “simple” tricks like these (did you really think of this before dear reader (not you Robin! :D) ?) invaluable in my experience.
Oh; and pay attention to the speaker icon up there too. When clicked you’ll get a sound example which gives you a good impression of the current assignment. Whenever there’s a video example you’ll see an icon as I showed here. These are the extra’s in Piano for All.
Piano for All for everyone ?
This is the hard part. I think Robin’s course can be usable for everyone who wants to learn how to play a piano (or keyboard!). And I also think his claims that you can “learn how to sound good very quickly” are fully true as well.
But here’s the thing: you have to be willing to actually learn and try to apply whatever you learned into whatever you can think of. It sounds cliche, I know, but I just want to make sure that people reading this don’t pick this up as a ‘magical’ way to learn how to play.
To put this into “geek terms”: ‘Robin Hall will clearly show you the way and how you can pass it. But in the end you’ll be the one who needs to pass it’. (how’s that for cliche? ;)).
Piano for All (link) provides a piano course which I consider to be invaluable because it shows and explains you the basics of how you can play tunes and diversions on them. It doesn’t teach you how to play entire tunes, instead it teaches you how those tunes were build and gives you all the building blocks you need to expand on that. Later in the program it does give you examples into playing full tunes but even then shows you good ways how you can make some parts easier on yourself.
It teaches you chords, it teaches you how to easily play chords, it teaches you how to cheat (sort off) on chords and in the end it provides an awesome toolbox which you can use to provide great sounds with relative little time.
As for the money back (I know some of you will ask)… I didn’t need it, so I can’t comment. I can say that when I sent a comment to Robin I got a response within 1 day.
And here you can find all the info you need on how to order.
Oh yeah… Pick up Piano for All now and you’ll get 11 e-books instead of ten!
No; that’s not how my website works but more seriously; Robin has provided an extra e-book which I think you might find useful in general. This isn’t so much about music nor learning but just some general tips which may very well help you to get a grip on things.
For people like me some of those tips may sound a bit cliched but even so one cannot deny their value.
And there you have it!
I know I’m stretching things a little here and most of all I like to play by the rules. If you don’t believe that then see this page.
All pictures and the one snippet shared above are copyright of pianoforall.com. The website I got it all from is copyrighted by Robin Hall.