Frequently Asked Questions.

1 What piano are you using in your videos?

I use a variety of different pianos in all of the videos I've uploaded on Youtube during the 4 years of my activity. The one I'm currently using is the Roland HP507.

2 What camera do you use?

Something I would consider extremely important to any keen YouTuber of today is the quality of the camera used. The one I am currently using in my videos is the Panasonic HC-V100 high definition video camera, which is a neat bit of kit!

3 Do you pre-record parts and play over them to record your final video on Youtube?

A question that is often asked to me when people hear my strings overlay on certain pieces I record. The answer is no, everything you hear in the video is played live and is a straight one-take recording/performance with no pre-recorded parts or editing. Additional sounds you hear such as strings are activated via a button on the piano, which is added as a secondary sound to the piano.

4 How long have you been playing piano?

I messed around on keyboards and pianos since a young age, but did not take piano seriously until about 18-21 years of age.

5 How do you record your videos/audio?

My most recent and current method is to simply use the onboard 16 bit/44.1khz (CD quality) WAV recorder on the Roland piano to capture my audio, I record the video using my HD camcorder and mix the two sources together (muting the poorer camcorder mic captured audio) using PC software to create my final video you see on YouTube.

6 How old are you?

I'm 33 years of age.

7 Where and how did you study music?

I am completely self-taught. I simply practiced on a daily basis most of the time throughout my life. I never practiced scales or traditional techniques to enhance my technique or musicality, I often played, or rather attempted difficult pieces that were beyond my level of playing, thus by practicing them I eventually improved my overall playing this way.

8 How long does it take you to learn a new piece of music?

Now this is highly dependent on the difficulty of the piece of music . For example something very advanced like a Chopin etude can take incredibly long periods of time to perfect. I have literally spent years and years studying difficult pieces on and off, and even now there are some I still cannot play to a performance standard. On the other end of the scale you have, in general, the far more manageable popular music of today. It has taken me only a matter of hours to learn the notes to a complete song, minutes to learn simple melodies even. To get a piece of music ready for performance and at a good level of playing it may take me longer to do this, sometimes days or even weeks, but again this is on and off whilst learning and practicing other music. I usually learn about 3 or 4 songs at once or more as often is the case.

9 Do you have perfect pitch?

No, but I am sure I am getting closer and closer as the years go by to having this.

10 Can you read sheet music?

Yes, I tend to read and learn the notes 'off by heart' instead of actually sight reading the music whilst I play with the sheets in front of me on the piano. I opt for no sheets in front of me so I can concentrate purely on what my hands are doing, and I just find it far easier to commit the music to memory rather than struggling to read it straight from the musical score sheet. This does take a good short term memory and it has taken me many years to be able to learn music from score properly on my own without aid from a teacher, but it was fantastic fun trying to work out what everything means.

11 Can you learn music purely by listening to it without any need for sheet music?

Yes I can, and is basically the skill of 'playing' by ear. Its very natural to me now, but I will say it has taken me years to master properly, I began learning music from a young age as I could never understand sheet music. Also I could never find the sheet music I wanted for the music I really loved and wanted to play, or it was too expensive for me to buy at the time. Learning by ear can come naturally to some people and not others, I think its something you can hone though and develop through constant practice. I can tell you there is a lot of rewinding the track involved though to figure out the notes, particularly in more complex passages with lots of notes or fast runs.

12 What would you recommend to improve my abilities on the piano?

Plenty of practice, 2 hours or more a day every day and you should see improvement, scales and arpeggios are great also for developing knowledge of the different keys and your overall dexterity/technique. Learning JS Bach can be very rewarding as he always composed with counterpoint, which basically means playing different melodies together at the same time. This helps you to learn the piano with both hands and not just focusing on the right hand as a lot of piano music naturally tends to do. Also I always advise that you should attempt pieces you can not play so that it develops your technique, I always think then you have something to aim for then and a challenge of course. Eventually when you have mastered this new piece you could not play before, you realise how much you must have improved to be able to play it now.

13 How often do you practice?

This varies from day to day, but can be as much as 4 hours or more a day to as little as half an hour or no practice at all for several days, though its best to practice a good 2-3 hours a day if possible.

14 Do you take requests?

Unfortunately not as I receive too many, although I have done requests in the past for the odd person I don't tend to make a habit of it, I do however pay attention to a high volume of the same request by different people of course.

15 What would you recommend as a good piano to learn on as a novice player or beginner?

You should look to spend roughly no less than about £400-£500, but what is more important is 88 (no less) fully weighted keys, a comfortable and responsive touch (one that you feel good playing on, very important this!) - preferably nice sounding onboard decent quality speakers with good bass, midrange and treble audio quality, also see how it sounds with headphones. It is important to remember there are 2 main types of digital piano and acoustic pianos - you have your standard upright pianos and then with digital you can also get the pianos that come with no stand, just the keyboard section (like if you were buying a standard 61 key keyboard by Casio or Yamaha) You can buy a separate stand, an X stand single or double braced/tiered for extra support for heavier keyboards/pianos. Digital pianos are generally more expensive with stands built in, like the home digital pianos. Both types can be just as good as one another, but with the all in one home digital pianos, you tend to get better sound quality as they tend to put higher quality/louder speakers into them. Of course you can opt for a piano without a stand and just purchase separate high quality speakers and hook them up.

If you're looking for the best quality pianos from beginner right through to professional, I would personally recommend grabbing either a Yamaha or Roland, as these are two quality brands that have never failed to impress me in the past.

However the MOST important thing is to try the piano out yourself first in a showroom or shop locally if possible. You have to be comfortable with the feel and touch of the piano and sound as it can be a very personal thing and after all you are spending a significant amount of money.