Tips, Tricks and Road Stories

Home

Self-Taught

January 23, 2012; John Moynihan

There are many ways to be self-taught; after all you’re teaching yourself!

I started in a strange fashion, it was the only way I knew how, I played by ear loud and hard, destroying one piano after another. Some people thought my runs sounded more classical, I thought I was after a free jazz sound, I guess they were right though, slowly it turned into counterpoint.

It was the sound I was after, it satisfied me! Of course I didn’t realize I was holding my hands and wrists all wrong, I did what ever I needed to, to get the sound I was looking for. The one thing that bothered me though, was that I couldn’t always get the sound I wanted, I finally had to stop playing; I was close to an emotional break down.

I started out as a singer, singing rock and roll and blues, finally ending up singing Jazz Standards, the piano came about trying to accompany myself. I couldn’t do it very well but heard something else on the piano and gave up singing altogether. Well after the breakdown I started singing again on guitar, my first instrument; it wasn’t long before I was back on the piano writing songs I could sing. I would slip back into playing counterpoint, now not as loud and forceful but still holding the hands and wrists wrong and not letting the piano keys lift my fingers, I was doing all the work. One day I felt something in my arm snap, two carpal tunnels and two pinched nerves at the elbow.

I stopped playing for over a year, as directed by my doctor, taking Celebrex, an anti-inflammatory, I went over my songs in my head every day; I had read the book that showed me how to play correct without injury and retaught my self. The Celebrex didn’t work so I was scheduled for four operations all under Doctor’s Charity.

It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be, they wanted me to play the day after each operation,“keep the hands moving!”

A year later I’m playing proper in my own style, singing a Jazz inclined Art Music.

I feel as though I learned how to play the piano backwards, starting out with uncontrolled Passion, it took me to another world! Today I still have parts of that passion in my music, but controlled as it should be.




This article was submitted by a reader. If you have an idea for an article that will be interesting to other musicians, amateur or professional, we invite you to submit it to us. We will pay you $50 cash if we publish your article and will issue a prize for the best article submitted each calendar quarter. At your request, if we publish the article, we will include your name and e-mail address as a “by-line.” More details here