“How to Play the Piano,” by James Rhodes. A book review. But first, a talk.

James Rhodes stopped playing piano for 10 years. That’s not a detail you hear about from any other concert pianists I’ve ever heard about. It’s usually the opposite: long long hours of practice every day for years. Decades.

The talk below is about trust, but it goes much deeper than that. And broader. How is it that you can tell when words come from the heart? I don’t know, but you’ll hear it in Rhodes’s talk.

Alert: some F-bombs in this talk, and a few other swears. I like it, and think it adds to Rhodes’s likeability (some evidence of why that is).

Anyway, it’s been a long time since I’ve been so moved by a talk on music or anything else. Hope you find something valuable in here, too. A review of Rhodes’s book, How to Play the Piano is below the video. I’ve not read his other books, or his recordings, but they’re now on my short list.


How to Play the Piano, by James Rhodes: A review.

This is a tiny slip of a book, and yet it contains so much.

Bach’s Prelude in C isn’t usually considered a “beginner’s” piece of music. Don’t let that scare you, because Rhodes’s book approaches this gorgeous piece (played at the top of the vid above) in a such a simple, straightforward style, that I bet you’ll be surprised  how easy it will be to learn this piece using the book.

81rebxm4yplThe book–much like the Prelude–is a tiny beautiful thing, only 60 pages long, and small, a testament to Rhodes’s no-BS vibe. The visuals of piano keyboards and fingerings, the quick-and-useful music reading lessons, and the advice on practice all contribute to the book’s charm and utility.

Give it 6 weeks of 45 minutes a day and you could be playing this piece on piano. It sounds like one of those cheesy, remoral adverts for losing weight, I know, but give it a shot. What if it actually takes you 6 month? So what?! That’s still amazing.

I would love, love, love to hear how you do using Rhodes’s How to Play the Piano. If you’re stuck or want some extra practice tips, do check out my books on how to read musc and practice. I’d love to hear about your experience.

I’m giving a copy of Rhodes’s How to Play Piano to anybody interested in playing piano. And I’m going to learn the piece myself, even though I already play, just because it’s so beautiful. Order all the Bach Preludes and get busy on the. Why not?

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