HOW TO USE THIS PAGE

  1. View the Questions and Answers below (click on headings to expand to see full text)
  2. View a list of more Questions and Answers at https://decplay.freshdesk.com/support/home 
  3. Click the help button (bottom right of this page) to search for a question or send us an email

Watch the video below for more details on using this page:-

 

GETTING SET UP  ON THE PIANO COURSE

Logging onto the Courses

To access the course on which you are enrolled, click on this link and follow the instructions: https://decplay.com/start/ 

In the event of any problems, try the following:

  1. Go to https://decplay.com/start/ 
  2. click on the START button
  3. Enter your email address
  4. Enter the password you chase on the payment page.  If you get an error message, click the ‘forgot password’ link & check your email for an email that lets you choose a new password.

If this is unsuccessful, please get in touch and let me know what error message you are getting. 

 

Tracking Your Progress

You can mark each lesson as complete, once you are satisfied you have finished it.  To mark a session as complete, go to the top bar of the session and click on the green tab that says "Complete and continue" - you will find it top right.

Slowing Down the Videos

You can slow down any of the videos within the course by selecting the settings cog on the bottom right of the video and then choosing 0.5 or 0.75 as the playback speed option. 

Here's a video to demonstrates this process:- https://www.loom.com/share/03210c1c336a407f9d1cfa67109b2742 

Where to Find the Song Sheets

The song sheets can be viewed and downloaded at:- 

Beginners MasterClass Course - in the 'Song Sheets' section (3rd section from the end of the course)

Piano Bundle Course - in Section 8 SONG SHEETS AND RESOURCE DOWNLOADS

See lessons Song Sheets (Copyright free songs) and Song Sheets (Copyrighted songs)

Printing Out Song Sheets or Other Course Documents

You can download the PDF documents by selecting the ‘download’ button below each PDF image.  You can then save the song sheets and print them out.  

Watch this tutorial for help with printing from a computer or an iPad: https://youtu.be/qYdtzT4KjP8

If Your Keyboard is in a Different Room to Your Computer

Most of the lessons are in video form, so if you are accessing the course on a tablet or mobile phone then it should be easy to watch the videos whilst you are at your keyboard.

If you only have a desktop which is in a different room to the piano / keyboard, then you can watch the videos, print off the song sheets and other documents, and take them to the piano, to try out the lessons.


 

GETTING THE MOST FROM THE COURSES

Choosing the Order of the Lessons

'Thorough' approach

To get the most thorough training from the course, go through the course lessons in order, starting with the INTRODUCTION. You don't have to play every song demonstration or the sections marked 'optional', but it is advisable to do each song lesson, in order to learn the most skills.

'Quick Win' approach:-

To start playing songs as quickly as possible, you can go straight to the song lessons for the style you want to play:-

  • for solo piano (melody and accompaniment), go to Section 2 - PLAYING MELODY AND ACCOMPANIMENT (FastPlay).
  • to accompany singing (or play along with an original recording), go to Section 3 - PLAYING ACCOMPANIMENT (ChordPlay and SingPlay)

Then later, you can go back to the other sections eg Music Knowledge and Playing Tips, to gain a greater understanding and learn about playing shortcuts and improving technique and style. 

Locating the Song Sheets

You can view and download the song sheets in Section 10 SONG SHEETS AND RESOURCE DOWNLOADS


 

Can I upgrade to the Piano Bundle?

Yes.  You can upgrade to the Piano Bundle for a discounted price, if you upgrade within 5 weeks of starting the MasterClass.  

 

FEEDBACK & SUPPORT

Join the Student Facebook Group

As you have joined the DecPlay course, you are entitled to join the Seniors Piano course on Facebook. This is a free community group reserved for DecPlay students, where you can post questions, get support and meet other students. It's great fun and I would encourage you to join in and even consider posting up videos of your piano progress! 

DETAILS OF HOW TO JOIN THE PIANO SENIORS FACEBOOK GROUP CAN BE FOUND IN YOUR WELCOME EMAIL.  

Upload Videos and Get Feedback

To get feedback on your videos, create a post in the Facebook Group and attach your video. I can then give feedback which will benefit all students. 

If you aren't yet ready to share your videos with the group, send them to me in a Facebook Message - click the "Message" button under the main image.

Join the Regular Group Q&A Lessons over Zoom

Zoom is a free online service that enables you to make video calls and join in group video meetings. 

We hold regular group lessons over Zoom on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month at 6pm.  

These are an opportunity for you to meet the DecPlay team & other students; as well as to submit a question.  DETAILS OF HOW TO JOIN THE ZOOM LESSONS CAN BE FOUND IN YOUR WELCOME EMAIL.  

You will receive email updates about when the Zoom lessons are scheduled, together with details of how to join us for them.   I aim to answer as many of your  questions as I can during these sessions.  

SETTING UP ZOOM

You will need to download the Zoom App in advance of the first group call.  Here are some links to more information on setting up Zoom: 

Easy set up - 8 minute video (skip the ads that appear before the video!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9isp3qPeQ0E

Detailed written instructions: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/360034967471-Getting-started-guide-for-new-user


 

PLAYING TIPS

Hand Co-ordination

Hand coordination is an area many people find challenging at first. Over time, when muscle memory kicks in, this becomes easier, but the following should help:-

  1. Practise each hand separately, taking it slowly and repeating small sections, before joining hands together. 
  2. Learn the right hand (melody) first.  Once you can play the tune smoothly and confidently, in time with the lyrics, without hesitation, then learn the left hand part (chords).  Only join both hands together when both of these are smooth.
  3. See the videos in Piano MasterClass section "(Optional) - Extra Help Videos - Detailed Lessons for Amazing Grace" such as "Both Hands - More Info" which give more info on this
  4. Here's another video I created to help with this :- https://youtu.be/AKTTOem57Qo

Getting both hands moving well is important, but if you're unsure which to focus on as you make progress, play with both hands together, and whichever is moving least well is the one to focus on.

What if I'm Left-Handed?

Being left-handed isn’t a problem & won’t hinder your progress with DecPlay.  Both hands are playing patterns at the same time and,whilst being right-handed might slightly speed up the process of learning the right hand part, being left-handed will have a similar benefit for the left hand part.

In the beginner’s style, chords are played in the left hand.  In more advanced styles (covered in the Piano Bundle), chords are played in the right hand (with or without the melody), while the left hand plays a ‘bass part’.

Hand Shape for the Left Hand

  •  The notes of chord 1 are notes 1,3,5.  
  • Remember your hand shape (which has a gap of 1 white note between the keys being played)
  • Next, move your hand (keeping the shape) up to start on note 3.  This is chord 3.
  • Next, move your hand up to start on note 4.  This is chord 4.
  • Etc.

Top Practice Tips

  1. Practice each hand separately before joining them together.
  2. Repeat small sections at a time, (e.g. ½ or 1 line of music, over and over) until you have learnt to play it confidently and without hesitation.  
  3. Add this to the previous sections learnt, before moving on to the next part.
  4. Then, practise the entire song sheet in full.
  5. Play slowly at a constant pace - then increase the pace gradually.

Practise regularly, when you are feeling alert (not tired).  Five practice sessions per week of 10 minutes per day are better than one practice of 50 minutes.

You will learn more, and enjoy yourself more, if you approach learning piano as a 'fun' activity.  Do not pressure yourself to learn anything within a particular timescale.  Approach it as a game and a fun challenge!

It is advisable to focus on one song at a time.

Check out these Top 3 Practice Tips videos (which can also be found in the Introduction section of the Beginner’s MasterClass) for further help: 

How long do I need to practice piano for: https://youtu.be/KvxZm0WSaXA

How to Get Best Results when Learning Piano: https://youtu.be/q3fV0ymhVEQ 

Piano Practice Tips - Best Way To Iron Out Problems: https://youtu.be/AKTTOem57Qo

Extra Help for the Left Hand

The left hand usually causes most people the most challenges. 

I recommend taking it slow and practising small sections at a time. 

Check out the Extra Help videos at the end of Week 1 in the MasterClass - in section "(Optional) - Extra Help Videos - Detailed Lessons for Amazing Grace" such as "Fixing Left Hand Problems" for help with the left hand chords.  


Left Hand Fingering

When playing chords in the left hand, if you find the recommended fingering uncomfortable (little finger, middle finger and thumb), an alternative fingering you can try is:-

middle finger at the bottom (note 1)
index finger in the middle (note 3)
thumb at the top (note 5)


- if this also isn't comfortable, then you can use any fingering which you find comfortable.


Should I Move Up or Down When Playing Chords?

You can play any chord in a higher or lower octave than the previous one - it is entirely your choice, depending on what sounds best and what suits your playing style.

By 'sounds best' I mean there is a point at which chords sound too 'muddy' when you go too low on the keyboard, or too 'thin' when you go too high.  Your ear will generally know which you prefer.

When thinking of playing style, generally the smallest distance between chords is best. E.g. the verse in 'Hallelujah' starts with chords 1 6 1 6 (C Am C Am), so I would generally go down from chord 1 to chord 6 (C to Am) because that is a smaller distance to move, instead of going up from 1 to 6 (C to Am).

If the chord pattern was 1 4 6 (C F Am) then I may choose to go up from 1 to 4 (C to F) and up again to 6 (Am), because that is the smallest distance to move, so this would sound the 'smoothest'.

When to Play Notes & Chords

The left hand generally plays on the 'beat'. The rhythm of most songs follows a 4 beats pattern and the left hand usually always plays on beat 1. It can also play on other beats, depending on the style being played. The easiest way to learn this is to follows the demonstration videos within the course. 

Some songs which have a 'waltz' feel, such as Amazing Grace use a '3 beat' pattern but, again, the left hand always plays on beat 1.

The melody (played in the right hand) follows the rhythm of the song lyrics. 

Motivation to Practise

Here are some tips to help increase your motivation to practice:-

  • Choose a song that you would love to play - we learn faster when we enjoy the thing we are doing.

  • Set a practice routine with a realistic goals (e.g. number of mins to practice - say 4 days per week for 4 weeks etc....) and a penalty if you miss your target, e.g. you don't get to do your favourite thing until you have hit your practice goal. If you get into a routine, even a small amount of practice on a regular basis will lead to good progress.  Doing this for 4 weeks in a row will help build a habit that is easier to stick to.
  • Practise when you are feeling alert (not at the end of the day when you're feeling tired). Ticking off your practice each day on a chart can give you a sense of progress.

  • Choose someone you can be answerable to, who has an emotional significance - e.g. make a promise to someone who you won't want to let down / make a challenge with someone you want to beat etc... or make a bet that will be painful to lose.  I always find that having an external force helps  - this could be a playoff challenge  - decide to play a song for a special birthday / family occasion etc...  
  • Break up the piece of music into bite-sized chunks and challenge yourself to play each section by a set time.  Do you work better with other people than on your own? If so, you could find a practise buddy or a practise group (e.g. online) and help motivate each other.


KEYBOARD TIPS

What Kind of Keyboard Do I Need?

There are 3 features that are important in a keyboard :

  1. That the keys are standard size (not small eg childrens size)
  2. That the keyboard has at least 61 keys (counting both black and white keys)
  3. That it is touch sensitive (ie plays louder when keys are pressed harder)  

That said, we have a few students who are using keyboards that have less than 61 keys, or which are not touch sensitive.  You can definitely make progress on the course with this type of keyboard, but I would then upgrade to the recommended type of keyboard whenever you get the chance.

My recommendations would be:-

  • Low budget (very portable) - Roland GO:Piano
  • Medium budget (medium portability) - Yamaha Piaggero range eg NP-12 or NP-32
  • Medium-High budget (less portable) - Roland FP-30 or Yamaha P125
  • High budget (less portable) - any top end Roland, Yamaha, Kawai, Korg, Nord digital pianos
  • Keyboard Height & Set Up

    Ideally, the keyboard should be at a height so that your forearm is horizontal i.e. parallel to the ground. Usually this would mean that the keyboard is a few inches higher than your knee when sitting at a chair e.g. kitchen chair.

    The main thing is to feel comfortable when sitting at the keyboard. You can get height adjustable piano stools (approx £ 80) and adjustable keyboard stands, which enable you to try different set up positions.

    TROUBLESHOOTING

    Problems Loading or Viewing Pages

    Such issues can be related to your DEVICE, BROWSER, or INTERNET CONNECTION.  

    To find out if it is related to your DEVICE, try the page on a different device (e.g. a computer, tablet or phone).  If it works on the other devices, you know the issue is with your original device.  

    To find out if it is related to your BROWSER, try the following:-

    • Temporarily disable any adblocker extensions you may have installed to your browser.
    • Since many issues can be caused by saved browsing data, you should try clearing your browser cache next.
    • If this doesn't work, then we also recommend trying again while using a private (incognito) browser window.
    • If you're still having issues, then it's important to make sure that your browser is up to date, running the most recent available version. So please try to update your browser next.
    • If an updated browser doesn't resolve the issue, the next step is to try a different browser. We recommend Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox

    To find out if it is related to your CONNECTION, unplug the cable from your computer which leads to the router, wait for a minute and then plug it back in.  Give it another minute and then check to see if the internet connection is back.

    If that doesn’t work, unplug your router box from the wall socket, wait for a minute, and then plug it back in.  Give it another minute and then check to see if the internet connection is back.

    If there is still no internet connection after a couple of minutes, call your Internet Service Provider.  It may be that there is a bigger problem with the network that they can advise you of; or they may be able to talk you through your specific issue.  

    If you are still having issues, you could try looking up the Teachable support page (using whatever device you are able), by clicking on this link:  https://support.teachable.com/hc/en-us/articles/360050556251-Troubleshooting-Course-Issues

    Problems Printing Out Course Documents

    Some students report problems when trying to print song sheets - especially from an iPad.  

    Watch this tutorial for help with printing from a computer or an iPad:https://youtu.be/qYdtzT4KjP8  Or you can try the following:-

    1. Access the page from a different device, preferably a laptop or desktop computer.
    2. Scroll down quickly to the PDF of the song sheet you require, and click on the download link beneath it, before the page crashes.
    3. If you have tried the above steps and are still having problems, contact us with details of the problem..


    Email Problems - Sending & Receiving

    If you don't receive emails from us, or have problems sending emails to declan1@decplaypiano.com  - it is probably because your email program mistakenly thinks that our emails are 'spam'. 

    If you find any emails from DecPlay in your spam folder, click on them and mark them as 'Not Spam'. 

    If you try to send an email to declan1@decplaypiano.com and receive an error message, see if you can find an option to mark the email as 'not spam'.

    If you struggle to get through to us on email, try sending a message in Facebook (message button is on the right, under the top image).

    Here is some more info that should help:-

    Is my email in your spam folder? If so, mark the email as "not spam".  

    Whitelist my email address (also known as 'safelist' and 'allowlist'). Show your email provider that you approve receiving emails from me by adding declan1@DecPlayPiano.com & support@decplay.freshdesk.com to your contacts or your 'whitelist' in your email service. 

    HERE ARE INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO ADD AN EMAIL TO A WHITELIST, WITH DIFFERENT EMAIL PROVIDERS