I just finished my first round of piano instruction.  It was for ten weeks and I am now at the point where I need to decide “what next.” The first set of lessons was an unusual watered down set of lessons teaching you chord basics and melodies to get you up and playing songs as soon as possible. What have I learned? Well I set my sights on learning to play a simplified version of a Duke Ellington song (Don’t Get Around Much Anymore) and I think I have succeeded at that. The intellectual part of introductory chord theory came easier than the finger dexterity needed to play.  I need to improve on my finger dexterity through exercise but I can certainly learn to play additional simplified versions of jazz songs without further lessons as long as  I have the self-discipline to sit down and work on them. The brute force learning of rote memorization and practice, practice, practice is a slog but it pays off in the end. However if I want to learn more about chord and music theory I will certainly need to take continued lessons over an extended period of time. The little arranging exercises that we did like finding harmony notes to play along with the melody notes, was fun and appealing to me. Finding new chord progressions, additions and substitutions for songs also attracts me. The many tricks of fills, grace notes and improvisation also fascinates me. The question I have is how much basic stuff do I have to learn to be able to do all of this?  One of the things I realized immediately is that the ocean of stuff one can learn about playing music is deep and infinite.  I could be committing to a project that will take the rest of my life and I still would not learn all there is to learn.  The learning therefore needs to be selective to take me where I want to be. Can I find a teacher who will concentrate on the stuff I need to do this and is willing to fore-go all the other stuff?

For the meantime I am going to take a break from lessons and strike out on my own.  When I reach the point where I feel I need more lessons to go any further I will try to find a teacher who teaches what I want to know. I am by no means giving up but rather striking out to find my way in the wilderness alone.  Any advice from any of my musician friends would be greatly appreciated.

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