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Roll Call!

Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2016 12:44 pm
by davidsides
Our Playground Sessions community has grown so much since we've first created this forum! I'm happy to see so many of you enjoying your time on Playground Sessions and sharing your experiences with one another.

Today I read a post from sw1tch73ch who made the brilliant suggestion of creating a room for everyone to meet one another. So without further ado, allow me to kick this off by introducing myself! :)

My name is David Sides, and I'm a musician from Oxnard, California. I grew up in a pretty large family (a total of 6 children) filled with musicians - my Dad plays guitar and bass, Mom sings and plays piano, and between my brothers and sisters you have drummers, guitarists, and violinists. As you can imagine, I was introduced to music very early on. My music journey, however, was a bit unorthodox from many as I didn't learn to play the piano through lessons. I actually learned how to play the piano all by ear!

Long story short, back in '94 I received a keyboard for Christmas and for those of you who are old enough to remember, that was the year The Lion King hit theaters. I loved the music from that movie so much that I asked my parents to buy me the soundtrack of that film. That soundtrack was the beginning of my music journey. At the time I was in the 5th grade, and I remember coming home from school, locking myself in my room, finishing my homework and then immediately listening to the songs on that cassette and trying to figure out how to play them, just by listening to them and matching their notes to the notes on my keyboard. Well, before I knew it, I was able to learn practically any song I tried, all by ear!

As I grew older, my skills became more refined by playing the piano at church, accompanying various vocalists. This was always fun, yet challenging because I had to be able to figure out the key of the singer's song, and its chord progression, all within seconds, live in front of the crowd at church! Luckily this too was something I quickly became good at (and luckily any missed notes and back chord changes I made early on were overlooked by the community) and it taught me a lot about different chord progressions and how they work.

Fast forward to my college years, I attended the University of California, Riverside, and studied music. This was my first "formal" experience with music. Studying music in college was very interesting because I didn't really know any of the technical terms and theory behind it, I just knew how to play it. So for me, it was like knowing how to speak a language as a child but then being taught to read, write, and analyze the language once I became an adult.

I graduated in '07, began posting videos of myself playing my piano arrangements of popular songs on YouTube (you can check them out here:, which then led to me playing at shows and weddings around the world, and before I knew it I was meeting other musicians, talented individuals, and the one and only Quincy Jones as part of what has now become Playground Sessions! :)

Despite being around music my entire life, my musical journey could have easily gone a completely different way. You see, beginning playing the piano at the age of 10, I was told that I was too old to learn it, that most start as young as 3, and if I really wanted to be good I would have had to start 7 years ago. That nearly discouraged me from wanting to play the piano. Looking back to that time in my life, I'm 2000% glad I didn't let my "late start" dialogue prevent me from starting at all, and I hope none of you let it stop you either!

Learning how to play the piano, and sticking with it, has been the best decision of my life and I'm sure you will all look back on your decision to learn how to play it and appreciate the decision as well.

Alright, everyone, that's my introduction. Now it's your turn! I'm looking forward to "meeting" the rest of you here! :)

Re: Roll Call!

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:44 am
by degerrum
Hello, my name is Derek DeGeer, username degerrum. I have only been playing keyboard for a couple months. I'm 45 years old with a 7yo daughter who is also learning.

There was always a piano in my house growing up but I never had any lessons or played. When my daughter was born I was living in NYC and taking music together classes with her. It was so fun and I was desperate to stop the cycle of Non-musicality in our family so I bought a guitar.

We moved to Maine and I continued to play guitar and ukulele. There is a big fiddle tradition up here so we've been pushing that. My mother bought my daughter a keyboard for Christmas and we messed around on it with a learner book or two and then started going to piano teacher through her school.

We immediately started playing songs we loved instead of the Suzuki method of playing twinkle twinkle for a year and a half. I got completely hooked. I recently bought a Yamaha DGX 660 and found piano sessions through the Yamaha website.

It's been a couple weeks, I've competed rookie boot camp and am learning a few rookie songs (only Lean on Me is 3 stars) while picking away at the intermediate boot camp. I'm loving it, though playing the melody on piano is not my musical goal. I want to be able to provide the band so myself and friends can sing along.

My daughter is picking away at rookie boot camp. I'm not pushing too hard. My ultimate goal would be to have parties that spontaneously end up in jams and sing alongs. I also want my daughter to get the musical bug, I'm finding the accomplishment of completing small lessons a good stimulant for continued practice.

Keep up the good work players and teachers alike!
Derek and Frances

Re: Roll Call!

Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 12:54 pm
by davidsides
Hi Derek and Frances,

It's nice to meet you two! I hope things aren't too cold up in Maine, it's starting to get pretty brisk here in New York.

I'm glad to hear that you've put in the effort to break the non-musicality of your family. I believe that every family should at least have one musician in it. If nothing else, it gives the family someone to entertain them around the holidays by playing Christmas songs. Music is such an important part of life - I wish everyone got involved with it

And regarding your point about not just wanting to learn how to play the melodies, we're actually working on content now that's designed to teach people how to play along with a singer, so keep an eye out for that to be added soon. :)

Re: Roll Call!

Posted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 1:15 am
by CharlesErickson
My name is Charles Erickson

I started my musical journey as a little kid.. I was bought an organ as like a 7 or 8 year old it was this really great sounding electric organ and I loved playing with it..also I am a good whistler. I remember being a kid and they have this basketball Team -the Harlem Globetrotters I practiced whistling Sweet Georgia I always had a liking of hearing tones of music and the piano..I played but after losing that electric organ that sounded so good I didn't pick up a keyboard as serious for a long time because I wanted to really learn and I wanted a keyboard or piano with all the keys to really learn how to play? What use is a keyboard that doesn't have all the keys ? now as an adult I aquired a nice Yamaha :) I have always liked Yamahas now I'm learning how to play with Playground sessions and having a great time ..thoughts about the program.. the teacher in the tutorials has really fast hands :) love the music.. great selection of modern and archaic (classical classics) and a fresh variety of styles of music too :) really thrilling hearing the music sometimes for the first time playing it...I think having a computer in one section of the room in the corner and having the keyboard over where I turn my head to the right to look at it has an interesting side effect that I've pretty much had to learn to play without looking at the keyboard pretty much from day one..they say that is good for you.. I'm picking up speed and having a great time now going into the two handed part of the program and with my newest stumbling block being Black Eye Peas I got a feeling in the Beginner Tour .. I'm thinking that people have a passion for the beauty of music would have to be some neat people so I came to this forum hoping to make some neat new friends I also write poetry. One of the inspirations for picking up the keyboard is I have a friend that writes some amazing poetry and has often found accompanyment with some other jazzy type instrument players for a poetry music combo..the inspiration has sense gone to a lot more creating books while I have been inspired to learn something musical so that I might find my musical self .. some ideas I would like to further is I would like to set it up so that I can skype and perhaps play music with other musicians and have a jam session through a skype call ..Is that even possible? Hope all are well and having fun :) :geek:

Re: Roll Call!

Posted: Tue Nov 29, 2016 1:35 pm
by davidsides
Hi, Charles! It's nice to meet you.

So you started on the Organ huh? I like the organ, especially the grand sound you get from a pipe organ. And it's great to hear that you're talented enough to whistle! Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who can't whistle at all (my fiance to name one). Luckily, I don't have that problem. :)

I'm happy to hear that you're enjoying your time in Playground! You definitely have an interesting keyboard setup, but as you've pointed out, it could probably be good for you as it forces you to not look at your hands while playing. If you're open to another setup option, we released our iPad version not too long ago. If you have an iPad, you can place the iPad on your keyboard and go through our lessons there. At the moment our iPad version doesn't have any of our video lessons, but we'll be adding them soon in a future update.

And the Skype jam session goal a cool goal to have! I'm sure it's possible given today's technology, I'm just not sure how good it will be. Maybe in time it will be something great!

Thanks again for the introduction. I look forward to hearing more from you in the forum.

Re: Roll Call!

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 7:47 pm
by CharlesErickson
Thank you :) I will do my best to do well as well as be an example of honor and good will and charity and do well for the program I am lucky to have discovered. I have a lot of time to study at home and I will train hard and wish everyone in the staff and wishing the other students learning here happy holidays and well being :) I love musical discussion

Re: Roll Call!

Posted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 11:35 am
by thomas1018
Hi everyone! My name is Thomas Harden, and I am a musician from Staten Island, New York.

Like David Sides, I have a musical family. All of my brothers (3) play instruments, and we were introduced to music at a young age. Our grandmother, a fantastic classical pianist, taught, and still teaches my 2 youngest brothers, the piano. Studying music with her was an incredible bonding experience, and I am thankful she gave me a solid music foundation!

When I was an early teenager, I got the itch to learn the guitar after seeing the classic movie School of Rock. I received my first guitar in 8th grade and became obsessed with rock music. Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Eric Clapton and many other 60s and 70s bands were spinning in my head throughout high school. I am very fortunate that my parents paid for weekly guitar lessons during this time of my life. My guitar teacher from this period has become one of my musical mentors and good friends. We even play gigs together! He fine-tuned my understanding of music theory and helped prepare me for a more serious pursuit in college.

During high school, I participated in the drumline of my school's award-winning marching band. This was my first experience with ensemble playing. From bandcamp in the late summer, to the regional championships and national championships in football stadiums (Old Giants Stadium and MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore), and the New York City Columbus Day and St. Patrick's Day Parade, I learned the importance of focus, time management and meaningful practice. I can't forget that I met one of my best friends in marching band too!

While I was studying guitar in my teenage years, I was fascinated with guitar solos and improvisations. These moments in songs, where a musician uses the song to freely express his or her thoughts spontaneously, captivated my interest in what I could do with music. I needed to take that deeper dive, and my ear discovered jazz. When it was time to decide my college path, I was conflicted. I wanted to pursue music, but when I mentioned this to my peers I was met with these reactions: "Why would you study music? You will never get a job!". Luckily, my parents encouraged me to block out that negativity and declare music as my major.

Now I hold a Bachelor's of Science degree in Music from SUNY New Paltz and a Master's of Music degree from CUNY Queens College. I primarily studied jazz guitar, but piano was a close second. Many great musicians study or have studied the piano; it is that important! I truly believe the piano helps you to understand your primary instrument more clearly. It has been a tremendous tool for my guitar playing.

I joined the Playground Sessions team 2 years ago as a graduate intern, and now work with them part-time. Additionally, I teach private guitar and piano lessons in the New York City area and play the occasional jazz gig. I also perform with pit orchestras for amateur theaters and high school programs in my native Staten Island. Playing in a Broadway pit orchestra is a musical goal of mine which I hope to achieve soon. Within the next year I will be leading my own band. Stay tuned for recordings!

Finally, I would like to say to everyone in the forum, play, play and play some more! Music is about sharing the experience! Have fun and always keep a positive frame of mind!

Re: Roll Call!

Posted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 6:06 pm
by sw1tch73ch
thomas1018 wrote:Hi everyone! My name is Thomas Harden, and I am a musician from Staten Island, New York.


Finally, I would like to say to everyone in the forum, play, play and play some more! Music is about sharing the experience! Have fun and always keep a positive frame of mind!
Hello Thomas and thank you for the introduction. I've seen your posts in the forums and it's good to put a story with the user ID.

We need a voice over by Ellen Degeneres doing her "Finding Nemo" Dory voice: "Just keep playing. Just keep playing. Just keep playing, playing, playing."


Re: Roll Call!

Posted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:45 am
by mykcheng
Hey everyone! My name is Mike and I'm in the Navy. Currently, I live in Newport, RI, but am originally from San Francisco, CA. I took piano lessons as a kid, about 3 decades ago. I did it just short of 3 years and to this day, I don't actually remember when or why I quitted. I remember having to practice 30 minutes every day and remember complaining about it also. But, I do regret quitting, especially when I hear other people play music that I currently enjoy listening to. I think that's what drew me to Playground Sessions.

I just started the beginner bootcamp today and it's coming back to me relatively fast. I'm better at reading the notes on the treble cleft than the bass cleft, but I'm sure that'll come around. In the future, I'll probably deploy again and bringing my new Casio keyboard won't be easy, so I had also began learning the ukulele and guitar. But, the piano is probably going to be my main focus again since I have the most experience there. I'm looking forward to this and hope to hear from everyone soon. One of my first questions to everyone is what your practice plan looks like? Do you just work on each section or do you practice scale work along with learning new music? Interested to see how best to proceed. Thanks.


Re: Roll Call!

Posted: Tue Dec 20, 2016 7:26 pm
by sw1tch73ch
Hi Mike!

My dad was in the Navy, but he didn't make it a career. Let me start with the ever common Thank You for your Service.

I understand the difficulty of hauling a full size 88 weighted-key keyboard around. My YPG-635 88 Key digital piano is much lighter than a real piano, which might be 500 pounds or so, but at 70 pounds fully assembled with foot pedals it is still heavy for anything called portable. It also does take up a good chunk of space being about the same footprint as a small upright.

Would there be space for you to take a medium size MIDI Controller Keyboard? Without speakers and weighted keys, MIDI Controller keyboards can be pretty compact.