Frequently Asked Questions
Questions repeatedly asked via email/Answered by Michael Anderson

  • Can I really learn to play by ear?
  • What songs will I learn to play?
  • Does your method apply to different key signatures?
  • Will I be able to play Michael Jackson, Abba, Elton John or Billy Joel songs?
  • Should my computer and keyboard be close together?
  • How much time each day do you recommend for practice?
  • What genre of music will I learn in PianoMagic?
  • Do you teach jazz?
  • You should care more and make it FREE.
  • Do you teach voice leading?

    Q: Can I really learn to play by ear?
    I have tried to teach myself keyboarding and have picked up a very small
    amount by myself. I could do the right hand so so, but the left hand is a dud and I can't figure it out.

    I got very frustrated and stopped. I also tried a music teacher and gave that up. Yep I tried the tape route too!!

    It seems I can only go so far and then I end up in 'lala' land. Can I really learn to play by ear?

    A: Of course you can...if you'll go slow enough to understand and follow my instructions, ask questions as they arise every step of the way, and always conserve extra brain space so you'll have time to 'think like music' while playing!

    It sounds unbelievable to the folks who don't do it, but the answer to your question is " CAN learn to play with great EASE and great ENJOYMENT!"

    WILL YOU BE ONE OF THOSE WHO LEARN TO PLAY? I dunno. How good are you at following instructions???

    Regardless of the method you choose, it will have to be FUN for you to gain a noticeable and life changing benefit. Learning how to 'THINK LIKE THE MUSIC' you already enjoy will put a smile on your face and a sparkle in your eye!

    Piano Magic exists to teach people to 'THINK LIKE MUSIC'! Once you understand the 'thinking process', you'll know the logical, repetitive and predictable movements required to spontaneously play your way through a tune! This is how you speak a sentence, and it's how I want you to play a familiar tune!

    I suspect a majority of my members were (and ARE) skeptical in the beginning, but most seem to do quite well in spite of their doubts. Those who participate with me in the Forums and send recorded examples of their playing do very well! These people were once on the outside of PMMO, just as you are now. As skeptical as they were in the beginning, they entered PMMO hoping to 'see the light'.........and DID!

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    Q: What songs will I learn to play?
    What songs will I learn to play in your course?

    A: You'll learn to play songs you already know, can recognize by tune, and can hum, whistle or sing.

    To know exactly which tunes you'll be playing, make a list of ALL the songs you already know (and recognize) from beginning to end. Even include songs where you know less than 100% of the tune. After you learn 'how music thinks', you'll probably be able to predict your way through the parts you don't know very well...and you'll learn how to improvise a melody through those sections, to 'fill-in' the gaps! :-)

    As you learn more tunes, always continue adding them to this list, whether you CAN PLAY them or not. It won't happen overnight, but within a year or two, you should be able to understand how chords move through most of the songs on your list. If you understand how chords move through a song, you CAN PLAY that song!

    WHY make a list? So you'll be able to quickly remember which tunes you know and recognize...and want to play. As you begin the lessons in PMMO, you'll use this list to identify and play your first 15 to 25 familiar tunes. Then you'll begin to 'decorate' with Left hand patterns and Right hand 'extras'.

    What songs will you learn to play? To answer that question, tell me what songs you already know!

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    Q: Does your method apply to different key signatures?
    Does your method apply to different key signatures?

    A: Yes, of course!

    Piano Magic lessons discuss every tune in terms of the 'Key of C', but the principles of music are exactly the same for any other 'Key'. All scales sound alike except for pitch, the intervals between scale tones are the same in every 'Key', and the principles of how chords move from one to the next is exactly the same from one 'Key' to any other.

    If your brain can comprehend how to play a tune in any specific 'Key', it can just as easily comprehend identical intervals within any other 'Key'. You probably won't transpose overnight, but it's quite easy once your 'thinking' is clear.
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    Q: Will I be able to play Michael Jackson, Abba, Elton John or Billy Joel songs?
    I can hum and sing Michael Jackson songs so I will be able to play his songs?

    A: The music you play is up to you. If you know the tune, and can comprehend the logical progression of chords through the song, I know of no reason you couldn't play any tune. I'm not concerned with what music you choose to play. My only job is to show you how music 'thinks'. Then it's your turn to become the music by 'thinking like music'.

    What songs will YOU play? Songs you already know. Make a list of tunes you already know and can hum, whistle or sing from beginning to end: THOSE are the tunes you'll be working with for the next year.
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    Q: Should my computer and keyboard be close together?
    Is it necessary for my computer to be close to my keyboard to get the most out of your course? Should my computer and keyboard be close together?

    A: The answer is 'No'. Having the computer close to your instrument is NOT required...but might be more FUN for YOU if they were closer together.

    Even in my 'live classes', students first learn to 'think' the principles of music while they are AWAY from the keyboard.

    As in driving, there are certain principles you should know, as well as potential problems you CAN learn to avoid BEFORE getting behind the wheel of a car!

    AFTER you familiarize yourself with the written rules, you'll be more confident and comfortable behind the wheel of a car, and you'll have more BRAIN SPACE to focus upon driving well.

    Likewise, in studying piano you'll gain a greater benefit by first learning the principles of clear 'thinking' BEFORE moving to a keyboard, which will give you more BRAIN SPACE to focus upon playing well.

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    Q: How much time each day do you recommend for practice?
    How much time each day do you recommend for practice?

    A: The amount of time you spend completely depends on how much FUN you are experiencing. If you only enjoy 5 minutes a day, then do 5 minutes. If you would enjoy an hour, then do an hour.

    The point is, many people allow themselves to get frustrated if they fall off their schedule. Considering that "frustration" is the number ONE reason folks drop out of piano lessons, protect yourself against it from the beginning. Playing piano (or keyboard) is wonderful FUN, and you should set your own schedule according to the amount of playing time you can enjoy.

    The problem for Piano Magic members who understand and use the method, is there aren't enough hours in a day to play. It's THAT MUCH FUN!

    I will always tell you to follow the FUN, and PMMO is filled with simple, great sounding techniques that make playing rewarding, fulfilling and satisfying!

    My motto is this: IF IT ISN'T FUN, IT WON'T BE DONE!

    Keep it FUN...and keep it SIMPLE, and you'll be FINE!

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    Q: What genre of music will I learn in PianoMagic?
    What genre of music will I learn in PianoMagic?

    A: PianoMagic will teach you to play SOLO PIANO BY EAR. YOU will choose the genre AND the specific tunes you want to work with. The choice is YOURS. The tunes you'll be playing (or improvising in jazz) will be tunes YOU already know, and can hum, whistle or sing.

    To find out which tunes YOU will be playing, make a list of ALL the tunes you already KNOW, and can hum, whistle or sing from beginning to end. Make it a LONG list...the longer, the better!

    You'll begin by learning to identify tunes you CAN PLAY while following basic instructions. If you have a list of 100 or more tunes you already know, we probably will find several tunes that are PERFECT to begin.

    As you understand the info and conserve brain space, you'll be prepared to advance into NEW info. Along with that NEW info, you'll be able to identify even more tunes from your list...that you CAN PLAY. If you enjoy the learning process early on, you'll steadily add almost every song to your CAN PLAY list, but you'll do it step-by-logical-step!

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    Q: Do you teach jazz?
    Do you teach jazz?

    A: PianoMagic will teach you to play SOLO PIANO, and jazz is only one aspect of it.

    If your main interest is Jazz; if you already know scales and chord theory; if playing SOLO PIANO does NOT appeal to you, then Piano Magic is NOT...NOT the place you should be spending your money!

    Instead, have a look at Scot Ranney's web site at If that doesn't give you what you seek, do a search for "learn jazz piano" and you'll get links to more than ELEVEN MILLION web sites to check out!
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    Q: You should care more and make it FREE.
    I just wanted to state a few complaints. Not at you or your teaching as i'm sure you are a fantastic teacher, but just at the style of your website.

    It starts with simple lessons for piano beginners, page after page of tips for playing the piano, and I was enjoying it. Then you get to another page which says you charge a yearly fee. There I was thinking I found a great, free page, only to find that we had to pay for more.

    I knew that finding someone who actually cared enough about people wanting to learn piano & not charging was too good to be true. You should care more for people and make your course FREE.

    A: I appreciate your note, but you seem to be misreading the word "SAMPLE", as "SIMPLE". If that's not the case, you have misunderstood the meaning of Free "SAMPLE" Lesson, as it appears on every lesson in the public pages of

    Sample - (noun) Example; representative part or a single item from a larger whole or group especially when presented for inspection or shown as evidence of quality.

    Sample Lessons are available for you to SAMPLE...because Piano Magic Members Only is NOT Free.

    As it clearly states within the public pages, you probably won't find what you're looking for...for FREE, unless you teach yourself to play, as I did.

    Should you consider paying for membership in a course where you already find the FREE SAMPLE LESSONS to be valuable? As the creator of Piano Magic, I surely HOPE so! But the decision whether or not to invest in yourself is yours alone.

    Whether you learn to play through, or another excellent method, I wish you great success and all the best!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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    Q: Do you teach voice leading?
    Do you teach playing voice leading? I really like to sing and do not really want to read notes.

    A: If your primary interest is to play accompaniment (harmony and rhythm) while SINGING the melody, I would not recommend PianoMagic.

    Instead, I suggest for you to investigate every OTHER 'play by ear' course I have found on the internet. WHY? Because most 'play by ear' courses teach 'chord accompaniment' - separate from melody. In such courses, 'lead sheets' or 'fake books' are used to provide the chord changes you'll be using. As a result, you won't be required to hear chord changes 'in advance', or understand WHY specific chords are used in the tunes you perform. In that setting, you'll be able to focus your entire attention on making the smallest required movement to effect a chord change, from one chord to the next.

    "The smallest required movement" from one chord to the next = the study of chord inversions = the basis of 'voice leading' (a.k.a. 'part writing')

    By contrast, the emphasis of PianoMagic is to present and teach a desirable, entertaining, beautiful and FULL sounding style for playing SOLO PIANO (melody, harmony AND rhythm - all at once). To 'do it', you first learn to MOVE YOUR HANDS over the entire keyboard, but at the same time, limit yourself to the minimum number of required chords...not the minimum movement between chord changes.

    Although an understanding of 'voice leading' and 'chord inversions' is a by-product of the PianoMagic method, consciously applying 'voice leading' and 'chord inversions' too soon will delay (and often prevent) your success at playing 'by ear'.

    You don't have to learn how to read music to successfully play accompaniment from a 'lead sheet', but to accompany 'by ear', you DO need to learn how to play melody, because melody tells you WHEN and WHERE chords must change.

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