How can I learn practical guitar skills

I am looking for alternative practical ways to learn the piano when I just want to play for fun

Really, the answer to that depends entirely on the individual. However, I understand that you already have the ability to play guitar pretty well by ear. You can probably hear a melody and put a few chords together for it, and you'll know most of your basic guitar chords. This is a good start.

If I were your teacher I would strongly recommend that you read music reasonably well if you can't already (because yes, it will help you learn faster and easier). Once you are comfortable with sheet music, you can begin to use your guitar skills by working on your own arrangements, picking up fake books, and the like. Reading notes is a skill that will expose you to many new musical ideas, just as literacy exposes you to many general ideas. Sure, it's easier to play by ear than reading music, but it's easier to learn to understand language than it is to learn how to read. Musical competence has advantages analogous to "learning a book".

If you'd like to dig deeper into this, I like Alfred's all-in-one adult course. (Here is a link to a PDF that someone uploaded, although I would suggest you buy the book and do any of the theory exercises.) You can flip through the first 30 pages quickly, probably in a couple or three days. Make it your goal to play all of these silly songs perfectly (don't worry about how to sit and how to hold hands; these are good basic ideas, but there are all sorts of other opinions on this stuff). As you improve your game, you will find more interesting material to work on. (If you blow through this entire book, you will likely find that your roughly $ 10 investment will get you at least where you get that $ 75 investment in "instant piano, etc." And there are several more books out there if you like the approach enough.)

You will find that all the songs are spelled. You must be able to play as written, but you will find it interesting to work out your own arrangements of the music. When you book Book 2 (or maybe sooner) the chords are written about the music, and you should see a song or two that you can play that are interesting enough to think about how to change the voices of the chords and experiment with changing the harmony. Once you get to that point, you will likely be where you want to be.

The beauty of all of this is that you will find that your guitar playing improves over time. The piano is like a card; Every note looks the same for every octave. For example, if you want to play the lowest Bb on the guitar, this will be the first fret on the A string. An octave up and it's the fourth fret on the G string. On the piano, each B is the note immediately to the right of three black keys (and conversely, each note to the right of three black keys is a B). So it's much easier to figure out how to play a chord on the piano without having to memorize it like you normally do on the guitar. When you do that, you'll get a clearer picture of it, Why You play the notes that you play on a guitar chord, and this allows you to invent changes in your chord parts on the guitar as well.

Todd Wilcox

As a person who has suffered a repetitive motion injury due to poor technique, I have to mention my disagreement over "downplaying the stuff about how to sit and how to hold your hands". Posture and body geometry are important not only to prevent injuries, but also to be able to perform basic techniques yourself.

Rockin Cowboy

I like your comments on how learning to play keys better can promote a deeper understanding of guitar music.

BobRodes

@RockinCowboy When I was a music major in college, all majors had to acquire certain piano skills as part of their graduation requirements.

Rockin Cowboy

@ BobRodes I can see how great this would be for music majors. My question is more about people who are into recreational music for fun and may not be as dedicated as a music major.

BobRodes

@ToddWilcox Well that's true and I didn't mean to suggest anything else so I may have overdone it. However, there are big differences in what does not hurt and what is basic for the basic technique. Many very good pianists don't bend their fingers more than sometimes: youtube.com/watch?v=ZK6DxupkUPQ. Some lean towards the piano, others sit straighter. Compare Rubinstein to Horowitz for an obvious example. But none of them slouch in defense of your point of view. Maybe I should have said to take these pictures with a large grain of salt.