Steps For Learning To Play the Piano

Playing the piano is a fun and rewarding hobby for any age. Whether you are a high schooler who would like to learn some jazz licks or an adult who wants to play Mozart, with hard work and dedication you can learn to play well.

1. Buy a Piano or Keyboard

Before you begin, you need to acquire the tools for the undertaking. First, you will need a piano or keyboard. There are pros and cons to each. Keyboards are much less expensive and can fit just about anywhere. Most of them are portable so you can take them along on trips. However, their action and response are greatly inferior to an acoustic piano, limiting your ability to play expressively.

Pianos are heavy, take up a lot of space, and are expensive. Even a small spinet size demands some room. They need regular tuning and maintenance. However, you will develop a much better technique by practicing on an acoustic piano and your playing will be much more satisfying to yourself and others.

If your budget allows it, get an acoustic piano. Look for a used one in good condition. Start on a keyboard if you wish, but plan on upgrading to a piano in the future as your playing improves.

2. Choose Your Learning Method

YouTube is full of helpful videos that can teach you certain songs on the piano. There is also an endless selection of internet tutorials. You can purchase piano music notes sheet music that has the note name centered on each notehead. This is a great option for learning note names.

You should view all of the above as helpful study tools to accompany your lessons with a flesh-and-blood teacher. There is no substitute for learning from a qualified piano teacher. Ways to find a good teacher include:

  • Contact your local Piano Teachers Guild. Do an internet search to find the closest branch and read their list of recommendations.
  • Talk to the owner of any local instrument store or music shop. They typically collect business cards and contact info from local piano teachers.
  • If you attend a church or synagogue, talk to the musicians who perform at the services. Many church organists and pianists give lessons.
  • Call the music department of your local college or university. These schools often have a prep department that gives music lessons to members of the community.

3. Set a Practice Schedule

Decide what days and times you will be able to practice. You will not make the progress you hope to without dedicated time set aside. You should plan on practicing at least five days a week. In addition to making a schedule, for effective practice you should do the following:

  1. Set a daily practice goal. For example, you could say, “Today I will learn the right hand of the verse.” When you have accomplished that goal, you’re done for the day.
  2. Break your music down into smaller chunks. Practice sections of no more than four measures at a time. Learn your hands separately, then put them together. 
  3. Play everything very slowly at first. It’s okay if it takes a week or longer to work up to the correct tempo.
  4. Choose from a variety of music. You will stay more interested in your lessons if you do. If you are using piano music notes sheet music you can play everything from classic rock to show tunes.
  5. Reward yourself. An occasional treat for good practicing is always nice.

4. Study Music Theory

You don’t have to become a music theory expert but a little knowledge of how music is put together will help you learn your repertoire faster. Memorize the note names on the staff, key signatures, and note values. In addition, it is helpful to know some basic theory concepts, such as:

  • Form and structure. Know the verse from the chorus and the recapitulation from the exposition. 
  • Scales. Practicing scales strengthens your fingers and helps you to acquire greater speed as a pianist.
  • Chord names. Whether you call it a B7 or a V7, knowing basic chords comes in very handy for playing some of your favorite pop and rock songs.
  • Music terms. Traditionally, most music terms were written in Italian. You will still run across them today, so go ahead and learn the difference between a crescendo and a rallentando.

5. Build Your Library

It’s never too early to build the piano library you want to play. Talk to your teacher about what repertoire is right for you and begin your collection. You can purchase quality piano volumes from your local music store or purchase sheet music for download online.

Musicnotes is an outstanding resource for piano music notes and sheet music of all levels. You can find Christian music, country music, and classical music in the same place. The editing is excellent and will enhance your learning experience.

About the author

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