man playing Yamaha piano

Q & A with Phil R.

We LOVE hearing about our students’ experiences with Piano in a Flash, and we wanted to share some of those stories with all of you! Keep reading to see why Piano in a Flash means so much to Phil.

Q: When did you first join Piano in a Flash?

A: I’ve been with Piano in a Flash since November of 2017. I saw a Black Friday deal, and decided it was too good to pass up.

Q: How often do you practice?

I’m a corrections officer, and I have to get up early for work. Because of Piano in a Flash, I’ve been setting my alarm for 3:30 a.m., and I practice from 4 a.m. until 5 a.m. or so. Having that hour in the morning, all to myself, with no distractions, really makes a difference.

Q: Do you play any other instruments?

A: I grew up playing the drums. I was a drummer at heart. I applied to three different universities, and I got scholarships to all three because of my drumming abilities. I went to the University of Alabama and declared a major in music education, but once I started the classes, I realized I needed to know music theory. I was never taught music theory in my school’s band. Drummers now have to learn music theory and other music skills before they really get to do “fun stuff”.

Q: Has learning piano helped you in other areas of your life? Examples: confidence boost, memory boost, less stressed, etc.

A: A while back I was studying to be a watchmaker, and I had these tests I had to study and prepare for. I dedicated a lot of time to that, but whenever I was feeling stressed I’d sit at the piano and work on songs. That helped immensely. 

For five years, I lived out of state away from the wife. I had no cable, no internet, so self-entertainment was hard to come by, but I did have the piano and Scott’s lessons on my iPad. I dedicated a lot of time to the piano then.

Q: Why did you want to learn piano in the first place?

A: I grew up in a small town, my father was the pastor of a small, southern Baptist church. We only had about 80 or 90 congregants, and we were never sure if we would have piano accompaniment each week. My mother really wanted me to learn how to play. It didn’t hold my interest much when I was younger, but after she passed, I thought about giving it another go.

I tried two other online piano courses before deciding to try Scott’s. The other two courses really focused on playing chords, and singing along with the song, but I had a problem with that: I cannot sing! I grew frustrated, because I wanted to be able to play a song and have people know exactly what song I was playing, without having to sing along.

I went back to Scott’s pitch on Piano in a Flash, and he told us we could learn to play songs in fake books. I’d have chords and the melody, and that was all I needed, since I don’t care about the classical stuff. I just wanted to know that people knew what I was playing on the piano.

When I started the courses through Piano in a Flash, I knew it was a better fit. One of the first songs I came across was “Amazing Grace”— that was one of my mother’s favorite songs. I knew I had to play that song.

I worked on the song for a while, and decided to record myself playing it and post it on my Facebook in memory of her on Mother’s Day one year. I cried; being able to honor my mother in that way meant so much to me. And my piano abilities have improved a lot since then, I still go back and play the song often.

Q: When you struggle with something, what do you do?

A: There’s been a few times where I have tried and tried again, and I just cannot understand how to play a certain song. I’ll shoot an email to Piano in a Flash, and there’s been two instances now where I’ve gotten a personal video back from Scott himself. He has his camera set up over the keys and explains to me while I watch him play the part of the song I’ve been struggling with. Scott has so many students, and somehow made time for my question? And it wasn’t just an email, it was a personal video! That was awesome, I’m so thankful he took the time to help me out like that.

Q: Anything else you want to mention?

A: It’s really exciting to me to be making music, rather than to just be playing chords. What I’ve been given through PIAF is a gift, and that’s something you can’t buy. It’s a total gift, and I’m happy to have found Scott and his teaching method.

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