"The Internet has everything," I overhead one grandmother explain to another during an elevator ride. (Is it considered eavesdropping if you're in a elevator?) I, of course, agree. The Internet even offers free piano lessons. I'm not suggesting that computerized piano lessons should take the place of IRL (Web talk for "in real life") lessons and practice, but these online piano resources are worth a look. If you have an up-to-date browser (most of these sites require Java) and a piano keyboard (electronic or otherwise) you can start your music education right here, right now.
Before we begin our tour of online piano lessons, we're stopping for a little inspiration at this collection of classical piano pieces (in MIDI format) played by professional concert pianists. Organized by composer (from Bach to Schumann), you'll find a nice sampling of each artist's work. Some pages include a link to the composer's biography.
"Use this as a starting point, but by no means use this as your sole source of learning music, especially if you're serious about it. There are certain restrictions, such as posture, dynamics and general musical style that cannot be overcome with teaching music through the computer." Warnings aside, these fifteen lessons will take you through elementary music theory and introductory sight reading. Music Magic is a fabulous site (it includes interactive games and a huge music dictionary) created by three high-school students for the 1998 ThinkQuest competition.
"This virtual reality Java piano lets you play the piano and have a little fun while learning the relationship between the sounds, music theory, musical scales, and the underlying math and physics of how sounds are produced and perceived." Sounds like a rather tall order, doesn't it? "Combined with the piano is an oscilloscope and sound generator so you can create, view and hear sounds and you can learn how the amplitude and period of the wave relates [to] the volume and pitch of the sounds." Physics aside, my favorite part was playing the Java piano with my computer keyboard.
"As you first look at the piano keyboard, it looks like there are lots and lots of notes to learn. Not so! You only need to learn 12 notes." Whew, that's good news! This extensive music theory site is organized into thirty-four lessons (with more being developed.) After the thirteenth lesson, there is a thirty-minute forty-six question exam. In order to pass, you'll need to answer forty-two correctly. Piano on the Net is my pick of the day, and a terrific way to start (or refresh) your music education.