How to Learn to Play the Piano

How to learn to play the pianoIf you’re like me, the idea of creating beautiful sound is addicting enthralling. You dream playing out your emotions and coming to a place of peace and clarity after a hard day. You imagine the satisfaction and joy of playing a song you’ve always enjoyed listening  to, and now you’re able to create that sound.  You may even think of how fun it would be to play for friends or to collaborate with other musicians.  Whether you identify with all of these statements or only one or two, one thing is certain. You want to play the piano!

So, how to you get from that desire to reality?

First, you have to be ready. Do you have a piano or good quality keyboard? Do you have the time to practice and the money to invest in quality piano lessons? If you’re wanting your child to play the piano, can they read?

Second, you need to know what you want. What is your goal in learning to play the piano? Do you want to play for your own enjoyment? How about learning to play a particular piece like Fur Elise or Exodus. Do you want your child to have a lifelong appreciation of music?

Now that you know what you want, how do you get it? I would highly encourage you to enroll in piano lessons. This is the fastest and most direct way to make your piano dreams a reality. For one, it ensures even and steady progress, and two, it reduces the risk of getting stumped by a technical problem.

Find a piano teacher that can help you to get where you want to go.  Look for a teacher who has a similar goal for her students as you have for yourself or your child. For instance, if you want to play the classics for your own enjoyment, a teacher that specializes in Jazz improvisation wouldn’t be a good fit.

Become proficient in these 5 basic areas of piano study.

Read the notes

This should be your first goal. Once you can read the notes, you can play anything. You should know your notes as well as you know how to read English!

Know how to practice

Home practice is the secret to quick progress in piano. But what are you going to do with those minutes? This could be a whole article by itself, but the basics are: practice the hardest thing in your assignment first, practice in small sections working on specific elements of the music one at a time. Practice in time blocks, spending no longer than 10-15 min. on a piece at a sitting. Always end your practice by playing something fun!

Get good at sight reading

Sight reading is simply playing music that you haven’t seen before. You should be able to easily sight read music that is 1-2 levels below your current level.

Pay attention to technique

Many times fingering, hand position and the way that you approach the keys will make a big difference on the expression and more importantly the ease of playing a piece. If you are struggling with a passage, ask your teacher what you can do to make it easier.

Learn the theory behind it all

Music theory is the nuts and bolts behind how music works. Knowing the basics will open an amazing understanding of music that you’ve only guessed at before. It is exciting, practical, and the integration of art, science, history and math. Knowing music theory will help you to write your own songs, learn your pieces faster, and give you an understanding of music that is priceless.

Know what to expect and how fast you should be progressing

Having a basic understanding of levels is really helpful as you learn the piano. A level is approximately 1 year of piano study. (Of course, you can learn faster or slower than this.) Each level has a set of concepts that must be covered before you’re ready to progress to the next level. If you know what level you need reach before you achieve your goal, you can see the progress you are making.

Enjoy where you are now!

As you learn the piano, enjoy every step of the way. You’ll be learning many amazing songs, and there will be many aha moments.  Revel in each new thing you master. After all, learning piano is about the journey!

Are you ready to start leaning piano right now? Make an appointment for a complimentary 30 min. interview to find out how Mary Ruth can help you learn to play.

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