The Reverse Piano Method

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Conventional musical wisdom states that you learn to read music first, and then, years later, you are allowed to play music that interests you.

There are several flaws in this regime.

  • You will have to start with music so simple that it may bore you.
  • It will take a long time, years, before you play a song of any complexity beyond Jingle Bells.
  • You must be prepared for deferred gratification almost indefinitely.

But suppose you reversed the process? Suppose you played music that interested you at first, while you slowly gained expertise at reading the language of music?

Piano By Number makes it possible to render even very complex pieces into a numbered form that anyone can easily decipher.

Popular music, classical masterpieces, all of these can be expressed in numbers.

The advantage is that the student has a satisfying diet at the piano, not solely the cardboard exercises in the standard texts.

Thus the first question I ask of a new student is “What song do you want to play?” rather than, “Where do I put the book?” I then take their selection and make it into numbers that they can play then and there.

Every prospective student has songs they love and have always wanted to try to play. This is where you should start.

Only later, when the student has facility with fingering, chords, and playing with both hands should you introduce the basics of reading music.

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The advantages of this approach are many.

  • The student will want to keep playing, since they are playing music (simplified) they like.
  • The beginning of lessons is made enjoyable.
  • The basics of reading music can be slowly introduced to a happy, confident student.

The alternative is to start the conventional way, stumbling through trying to read mind-numbing pieces that are not really music at all, but exercises designed to present a curriculum.

The disadvantage of the conventional “read first” method is longevity. Few kids can stand it long enough to get to the point of playing interesting music.

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What I’ve found is that once a student gets started by number, playing songs they like, they become fascinated with the keyboard, a whole world in itself. In a conservatory, this is called Keyboard Harmony, the study of musical construction through the tool of the piano keyboard.

Eventually, the student, adult or child, will come to you and ask, “Now teach me to really read music,” and it will be easy, for the student already plays the piano.

All they need now is to learn to decipher the page, a much easier task when you are not struggling through the storm of being six or eight years old and are already able to play many pieces you love.

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