Hello from the Blue Mountains in Australia

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itsgarry
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:52 pm

Hello from the Blue Mountains in Australia

Post by itsgarry » Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:10 am

Hi All,

I was given an upright piano that was a family heirloom, but at 58 years old I have never played music.

I started researching how best to learn the piano, and Playground Sessions got some great writeups, but doesn't work with an acoustic piano.

To cut a long story short, I purchased a Roland FP-30 and Playground Sessions yesterday and am looking forward to learning a keyboard. And then to transfer the skills to the upright piano.

--Garry.

andrewwegierski
Posts: 580
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2018 4:37 pm

Re: Hello from the Blue Mountains in Australia

Post by andrewwegierski » Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:43 pm

Welcome!!
Andrew Wegierski

Support Tech & Music Arranger
andrew@playgroundsessions.com

sw1tch73ch
Posts: 409
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 1:23 pm

Re: Hello from the Blue Mountains in Australia

Post by sw1tch73ch » Sat Jan 26, 2019 12:49 am

Hello Garry, and Welcome!

You should read through the "Hello Fellow Musicians!" if you haven't already. There are a lot of people in your same situation, starting piano and music in general with zero experience. Before you think to wonder it, no, 58 is NOT too old.

There has been discussion about having a way of using an acoustic piano in the forums. The consensus seems to be that doing that is not really a reliable way to detect your playing. It would have to sample the audio on the fly, figuring out the notes and timing with the typical household background noises and unknown characteristics of the microphone and audio subsystem of the computer or tablet, especially with the computer or tablet also playing the backing accompaniment tracks. I certainly wouldn't want to write that code!

You'll love that FP-30. I'm pretty sure that the skills will transfer from the FP-30 to an acoustic pretty well.
== Just keep playing. Just keep playing. Just keep playing, playing, playing! ==

-- jbs --

itsgarry
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:52 pm

Re: Hello from the Blue Mountains in Australia

Post by itsgarry » Sun Jan 27, 2019 12:46 am

Thanks Andrew and JBS.

I must admit I bought Piano Discovery by Jump Music in the late 1990s for my children to learn piano on a Technics keyboard, but they never persisted with it. I also tried it while setting it up for my children, but didn't get past the first few lessons due to time constraints. Sold the keyboard after it sat there unused for a year.
Now I have a bit more time and room in the house so hopefully I can stick with it.
I like the FP30, it feels very similar to the acoustic piano, unlike the Technics keyboard from 20 years ago.
And thanks JBS for your encouragement, I did wonder if I had left it too late to learn piano...

--Garry

sw1tch73ch
Posts: 409
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 1:23 pm

Re: Hello from the Blue Mountains in Australia

Post by sw1tch73ch » Sun Jan 27, 2019 3:08 am

I remember Piano Discovery by Jump. I loved that program. I ran it on Windows 98 and at first it worked very well. But Apple kept messing with QuickTime and eventually they did something that killed the voice over lessons and some of the later animations that required QuickTime. I also ran into bad problems when I switched to Windows XP and all the fonts went dead. Jump had disappeared from the map and getting fixes were quite unlikely. Someone created a Windows XP fix that made the music show up on screen again, but the QuickTime was still a mess. I stopped using when I went to XP and only found the fix years later.

That was something like 15 or 16 years ago. A few years ago I found a review of Playground Sessions (sent by Yamaha, actually - I have several of their keyboards registered and got hooked up with their eMail Newsletter). So I checked them out and looked for all the reviews I could find - every review had great praise for the app, so I jumped-in in September 2016. While there are things I miss that Piano Discovery did very well (like the really deep discussions of Music Theory, even if targeted toward a much younger audience), there are a lot of things Playground does well, and has a suite of great songs to learn, too.

I just wish I could get Piano Discovery working in a virtual machine (I've done it but there are always crazy problems that crop up). It would be fun to go musical note Duck Hunting again. lol

Anyway, I think Playground Sessions has a lot going for it, not the least of are the Social Media and Forums to discuss your progress and ask questions.

jbs = John B Sandlin, but I've signed my posts jbs since forever. Or maybe a day or so later.
== Just keep playing. Just keep playing. Just keep playing, playing, playing! ==

-- jbs --

itsgarry
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:52 pm

Re: Hello from the Blue Mountains in Australia

Post by itsgarry » Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:48 pm

Hi John,

Yes I remember the kids shooting the ducks in Piano Discovery, and I ran into the same issue with fonts as you. I did get the patch, but the kids weren't using it anymore and Jump Music had gone with no further development or additional songs available, so I got rid of the keyboard and software.

Glad I have found Playground Sessions as I always wanted to learn to play the keyboard and I can't really afford piano lessons. So far I like it, I have done the first four or five Rookie lessons and will stick with it as I'm finding Playground Sessions enjoyable.

I noticed in some of your other posts that you use a mixer to mix the computer sound with the keyboard sound - can you share what mixer you use? I would like both audio streams to go to one set of headphones so I can practice late at night without disturbing the family. Late at night is my "spare" time ;)

--Garry

sw1tch73ch
Posts: 409
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 1:23 pm

Re: Hello from the Blue Mountains in Australia

Post by sw1tch73ch » Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:40 pm

My current mixer is a Yamaha MG10XU. I was using a Behringer XENYX802. The Behringer was perfect for just mixing the audio from the computer and the piano. If your piano has an AUX IN port you can plug the output of the computer there. My previous piano had no AUX IN. I used the headphone out from both the piano and computer to run to the mixer and found a volume setting that was roughly "Line Out" level and always set it to that to record.

My new piano has AUX IN and legitimate Line Outs - so the computer now plugs into the AUX IN on the piano and the piano goes to the mixer. I can also now use headphones without going to the mixer. I looked at the FP-30, but I don't think it has AUX IN, so you do want a Mixer. You only need a small one that accepts two stereo inputs (and maybe a couple mono inputs - which describes my previous mixer, the Behringer XENYX 802, exactly). Having USB to a computer would be a lovely bonus.

The Yamaha MG10XU was a nice upgrade because it does have USB with Audio to a computer. To record I use the mains out of the mixer to a TASCAM DR-40 (a ZOOM H4N or H2N would also be good choices for recording to). The DR-40 records at two different levels so that if the sound source is too loud, you get a quieter backup that can be used without clipping instead. It's smart to adjust the mixer's main level to not clip, but sometimes you don't get it right and the backup is really nice (I think I've needed exactly once - but then it saved me from having to rerecord everything!).

The Behringer Xenyx Q802USB is roughly what my old 802 was with the addition of that USB port. I'd recommend that one. It will kind of future proof the purchase since it does have USB and isn't too expensive. Plug the headphones into the jack called PHONES. You'll also want a headphone adapter cables to get to the mixer. 3.5mm stereo plug to twin 6.5mm mono plugs for from the computer to the mixer (something like a Roland RCC-10-3528 3.5mm TRS - Dual 1/4" Interconnect Cable - 10') and 6.5mm stereo plug to 2 6.5mm mono plugs for the piano to the mixer (something like Hosa Insert Cable (Stereo 1/4" TRS to Two Mono 1/4" TS), 9.9 Foot, 3 Meter, STP203). I'd shoot you a link for these, but they'd all be US sites with horrible shipping costs.
== Just keep playing. Just keep playing. Just keep playing, playing, playing! ==

-- jbs --

sw1tch73ch
Posts: 409
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 1:23 pm

Re: Hello from the Blue Mountains in Australia

Post by sw1tch73ch » Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:46 pm

One additional thought, there are passive mixers that might be less expensive. But I'm not as familiar with those.
== Just keep playing. Just keep playing. Just keep playing, playing, playing! ==

-- jbs --

itsgarry
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:52 pm

Re: Hello from the Blue Mountains in Australia

Post by itsgarry » Sat Feb 02, 2019 6:48 am

Thanks John,

I had a look at the mixers you referenced plus a few others as well, but for simplicity I will probably settle for a dual input PC speaker set. While the ones I looked at cannot adjust individual input levels, they do mix the audio, and in reality the input volumes can be adjusted separately on the keyboard and PC to give the required balance.

They come with a headphone port for late night practice, and if it is not late I can use the speakers to hear the backing music much better than through the laptop speakers.

Cheers,
Garry.

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