A History of Piano and Numbers

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Piano By Number is not a new idea. The origins have been around since at least the 18th century, in the form of “figured bass” (in Bach’s time.)

By the 19th century, numbering the fingers was commonplace and helped beginners find the notes.

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But the hard and fast rule for conventional piano teachers is that reading music must be learned first, and the music literature later.

The sad truth of this “rule” is that 90% of the students who start piano only reading music quit within a year. The horrible truth is that, by only reading music, you are limited to whatever music you can read. If you are happy playing London Bridge for 10 years, go ahead.

So who is to blame? The teachers or the students?

The fact is that conventional methods fail to inspire 9 out of 10 kids who try the piano. That is the industry statistic.

But kids who start with Piano By Number have much greater longevity in their lessons, and this is because they started having fun and making music right away.

Numbered Keyboard
Numbered Keyboard

Some kids go on to reading music quite easily, but most kids need the easy cushion of numbers to make piano fun enough to continue, year after year.

You have a choice between a student quitting completely, or dawdling along playing at their own comfort level until they wake up and really want to play.

What is it about music notation that confuses almost everyone who is exposed to it, and what is it about numbers that allows any human to start constructing viable music immediately?

Numbers are understood by anyone, even a 3 year old. Sheet music uses dozens of dimensions to express the same musical construction in great detail.

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Conventional sheet music, even of the simplest variety, has four dimensions which must be simultaneously understood.

One, find the correct buttons (keys) on the piano.

Two, memorize the names for the keys in all 88 positions on the piano keyboard.

Three, use the correct finger (a totally separate system) for each key.

Four, every key must be played at the exactly correct instant.

Kids are unable to manipulate these four elements “properly” and are thus branded failures at an instrument at which they could easily succeed if they were temporarily given a simplified method.

The Tools Kids Are Given

In conventionasl piano lessons, kids are “thrown into the water” with the below two elements: five horizontal lines and a piano keyboard.

Musical staff and keyboard
5 lines above, keyboard below

Kids are utterly confused by the two graphic systems, and their brains are not equipped to see the relationship between them. It’s algebra.

Numbers requires only one thing: find the keys (“buttons”) that produce a familiar song you like.

Music, even in the ultra-simplistic dialect of numbers, is for everyone, not just those who can decipher, at 6 years old, an ancient, complex graphic system.

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