How to improve your ability to play the piano


how to learn Piano

[toc]

The piano is the most popular instrument, along with the guitar.

Many people want to learn to play the piano, but learning to play piano takes time.

It is a demanding activity. Unfortunately, there is no magic technique that can teach you how to play a sonata or chamber music in two months on an acoustic or digital piano.

How can you learn to play the piano correctly?

You will find critical information in this article about learning to play the piano (defining your own style, choosing the right teacher, learning the basics, taking piano lessons, …).

When you start learning to play the piano, you will soon face one of the major difficulties of this instrument: how to succeed in playing with both hands together.

You will find that it is not easy at the beginning and that, if you start, a good part of your work will be to overcome this first obstacle.

Learning to play the piano: start by working on your hand independence

Learn to play piano: start by working on your hand independence

All these keys are rather intriguing at first…

On the piano, people tend to believe that the right hand plays a melody while the left hand plays chords. However, it’s not that simple. For example, in what is called contrapuntal, the two hands don’t have such a clear, distinct role.

You will notice that it is much easier to play with the right hand than with the left hand (if you are right-handed of course). The left hand is clumsier and not as strong as the right hand. Initially, you will tend to play with the right hand.

You can always start with the right hand since it tends to play the melody, which is the little tune that you remember when you listen to music. However, the left hand quickly becomes indispensable to really amplify the piece.

As I started to learn how to play the piano on my own, it was easier for me, personally, to learn the melody first. Once I had passed this stage, I had to concentrate on the accompaniment. This is a process like any other. Everyone must find the learning method with which they are comfortable. However, you will not be able to avoid practicing your left hand.

To succeed with your hand independence, you will need to practice withAi??yourAi??non-dominantAi??handAi??forAi??aAi??significant period of time. You should start by playing with the left hand alone (for example, play scales with the left hand). Make sure you do this from the very beginning. Donai??i??tt wait for two months before working on your left hand. You should face this left-hand obstacle right from the beginning of your piano study.

Once you are more comfortable with the left hand, you can start playing with both hands together. This is the trick: do not start playing with both hands before having worked on your left hand alone.

why does independence of hands drives one mad

Learning to use both hands for a piece can sometimes be a bit of a headache …

To progress, start by playing the same notes, on the same beat, with both hands. In other words, play exactly the same notes with both hands. Then, learn to play a very simple score, each hand having a different part. Most importantly, start by working with separate hands. This is indeed another rule to respect: do not immediately play with both hands, but work on one hand at a time.

Learn every note and take the time to remember the sounds. Your brain will do it on its own after a while. Believe me, there is no point in hurrying to learn a piece; you will only get discouraged.

As both hands become more and more independent, you will see that playing them together will get easier and easier. However, it takes time for your brain to get wired in such a way and for your hands to memorize the movements.

At a certain stage you will find that you are able to decipher a score and play directly with both hands together.

Of course, choose your scores – easy partitions to begin with. You will find them in the methods for beginners. It will take you about a year to develop good hand independence. Do not get discouraged too quickly! You wonai??i??t become Mozart overnight.

Learning to play the piano: understanding musical theory

The second “problem” you will encounter is musical theory.

Learning the piano requires learning musical theory. This is quite theoretical andnot very cheerful and playful, but a necessary step in learning to play either the acoustic or digital piano.

You could bypass musical theory but you would be limited very quickly, whatever type of music you wish to play.

Nearly all musical scores are written using musical theory. From classical to modern music, it is very difficult to find the equivalent of tablatures. Only Youtube tutorials can help amateur pianists to start without using musical theory. This is why it is so important for a musician to know musical theory and how to read a score.

music theory

Musical theory is a little intimidating at the beginning, but once you know it, you will be able to go much faster in learning pieces of music. There are mainly two components in sheet music: notes and rhythm. You will have to learn and work on both.

You definitely know the name of the musical notes. There are only seven, from A to G. The whole thing consists of Ai??knowing how to read and locate these notes on a score, on the staves.

You might remember the names of the notes from school, even if it is now buried in your old memories. We were all more or less taught how to play the recorder, such a wonderful instrumentai??i?? That was anyway my first encounter with “musical theory”.

Knowing the position of notes on a score is relatively easy. As you will see, it just takes a few minutes (or a few hours) to understand the principles.

However, reading them without hesitation is a completely different thing. You need hours and days of practice. As a little exercise, you can take the following musical score and try to read the notes out loud. See how long it takes you. Read them in their order of succession again and again and try to beat your own record. If you reach 20 seconds or less you are starting to do well.

In music schools, you have to practice musical dictation. Dreaded by everyone (and I speak with full knowledge of the facts), this exercise consists of deciphering and transcribing the music, as you hear it, on staves. Very frustrating but very useful.

Now, when you do understand the language of music and are capable of reading sheet music with some ease, playing the piano becomes fun and even exhilarating.

There is one small, additional difficulty: the piano uses two different clefs: the bass clef and the treble clef. You will need to familiarize yourself with these two clefs. The position on the score of a note is not the same depending on whether the note is on the treble clef or ion the bass clef. In the treble clef, the notes are a line below the bass clef.

Learn the piano: the rhythm

Learn the piano: the rhythm

There is no control of the instrument without rhythm!

Once you are familiar with reading notes, you can begin to study the rhythm. Music is both sound and rhythm. One does not go without the other.

The work on rhythm is in the continuity of music theory. However, itai??i??s important at this stage to not only read the notes but to follow the rhythm at the same time (by helping yourself with your hands or a metronome . This presupposes a good understanding of the value of the different musical notes: the round, white, black, eighth, sixteenth, triplet and so on.

Here is one tip: at the beginning, work only on the rhythm without worrying about reading the notes. It is essential to first assimilate the different values (“times”) before going further. Moreover, it is not so much the values that must be learned as their relationships. Itai??i??s important to know that a white is worth two blacks which are worth four eighths. To understand this and apply it in the exercises, familiarize yourself with the notion of measurement.

A partition is split into units of time called measures. In general, one measure represents four blacks.

It may sound as complicated as deciphering hieroglyphs upside down, but once you have learned the basics of these codes, it will make your life as a beginner pianist much easier.

This is because the pieces of Beethoven, Mozart or Bach are not just a set of notes.

The times imposed for each score are real indications to direct you in your interpretation. However, you are free to change these times as you see fit once you have mastered them.

With experience, you can even learn piano improvisation.

Learning the piano: reading and playing at the same time

Learning the piano: reading and playing at the same time

It can be difficult to coordinate reading, right hand and left hand at the beginning!

Once you master the reading of notes and rhythm, itai??i??s essential to read and play at the same time. In other words, play the notes of the score on the piano, respecting the rhythm. At first, itai??i??s a difficult job that takes time because the player needs to know how to manage several things at the same time.

You will have to work a lot to learn to read and play at the same time (with both hands). Regular practice and training are your main allies in this work.

And while the greatest virtuosos in the history of music such as Lang Lang enjoy a page-turning machine, you’ll need a certain level before you enjoy it too.

It can be difficult to coordinate reading, right hand and left hand at the beginning!

Here are some tips to help you at this level: start by reading the notes without touching the piano. Then, work on the piece with separate hands, very slowly. Your hands and brain must get used to locating the score on the keyboard.

Here is a little trick: start by doing this exercise of reading notes by choosing very slow pieces. Forget The letter to Elise or any other dynamic song. Debussy even thought of you by composing a work called La Plus que Lente.

Little by little, you will acquire automatic reflexes. Itai??i??s similar to writing on a computer keyboard. Remember when you only used your two index fingers to type a text (and that may still be the case!)

However, by using a computer and word processor, it becomes easier to write without looking at the keyboard. This is acquired with experience and time, so be patient!

Working on scales can be a good way to practice associating the notes of the score with their location on the keyboard. We will talk again about ranges.

Thereai??i??s no secret about the rest. Through practice, you will improve. Initially, you will make many mistakes and this is perfectly normal. Be persistent, and you will quickly see the progress you are making.

Learning the piano: know how to position your body

The piano does not only mobilize the hands and the brain. Playing the piano is an activity that involves the whole body. To play the piano, it is necessary to adopt a suitable, comfortable body posture. A good position of the body is necessary to play the piano well.

The goal is to know how to position yourself in front of the keyboard.

Place yourself at the center of the keyboard, facing the middle note “C”. Your arms should be almost perpendicular to the keyboard. Specifically, your elbows should be at the keyboard level, or slightly below. Ai??Of course, it all depends on your size and your body. The advantage of a piano teacher is that he can advise you personally on the best way to position yourself (during your piano lessons).

A bad position of your elbows and fingers could badly impact your performance but also your health. By placing your elbows too low, your wrists will be broken and you will have less strength in your fingers to press the keys. Feel free to use a stool under your feet if you are too small.

On the other hand, elbows that are too high will have too much strength. Your forearms will take over your fingers.

Your back should be straight. Beginning pianists tend to bend over the piano. If this is your case, you will find (or you have already seen) that this position causes pain and is not comfortable at all. Also, choose a seat that is wide enough so that you can rotate slightly when you play in the treble or the bass.

Your body should also be in the center of the piano because some instruments have pedals to amplify certain pieces. These are placed at the center of the piano.

piano - who to position your body

 

Being in the center also allows you to reach all the keyboard tones- the bass as well as the high notes. It is also possible to play with four hands. In this case, the length of the piano is divided in two.

The first pianist on the bass side plays the chords; the musician on the right plays the melody.

The hands, finally, must be … on the keyboard. It is advisable to adopt a “vaulted” position. The fingers should be slightly arched. Imagine holding an apple in your hand. However, the position of your hand may vary depending on its size. The performance of a pianist with large hands is not the same as the performance of a pianist with small hands. To know how to place yourself, ask your piano teacher or look at pictures or illustrations on the Internet.

Doing relaxation and breathing exercises can be very useful when learning the piano. Also, think about relaxing and stretching your body before you start playing (especially your wrists, your shoulders and your reflexes). Any tension or strain should be avoided. You’ll play with a much better flow and even faster if you’re relaxed than if you’re tense and stressed.

Practicing an instrument such as the piano is a real dance. The whole body participates in the interpretation of the piece of music, from the feet using the pedals to the tips of the fingers hitting the keys.

Relaxation also has an impact on endurance, because playing the piano can be tiring. For some people, playing the piano is a real sport. Hereai??i??s a tip: relax your muscles after playing a note (like after your piano lessons). You do not need to keep tension on keys you have already pressed.

This will not vary the sound of the note and it will also save you energy.

Learn the piano: practicing scales

We have briefly spoken about how scales are not only the best known exercise but also the most effective for learning the piano, even if opinions vary. Practicing scales has several functions (in addition to being used as a warm-up). Although the role of scales in piano learning has declined in recent decades, it remains a central point and should not be overlooked.

Scales are a series of notes played one after the other and are defined by a given interval that is the same between each note. Ai??A scale is usually named after its first note. The number of notes in a scale can vary: Some have ten while others have five.

First of all, scales make it possible to increase the speed at which you play. In many pieces, the score requires a very fast succession of notes. Scales also have another function: learning to play on a regular basis, respecting the tempo. Practicing scales therefore has a rhythmic role. Scales also allow you to learn to position your hands, to improve the placement of your fingers, etc.

Learn the piano: practicing scales

Practicing scales also has another function, albeit one that will not interest you immediately if you are a beginner piano player. Scales allow you to become familiar with harmony. Practicing your scales in an intelligent way enables you to understand the structure of a scale (precisely), the distribution of intervals (tones and semitones), the difference between the major and minor modes, and so on. Moreover, you will learn to play a song in a tone that you have mastered much more quickly. A student will be able to learn a piece of piano in F sharp major if he already knows this scale well.

Moreover,Ai??it is strongly advised to practice and learn the scale concerned well before starting to work on a piece and before a piano lesson.

Many piano manuals will allow you to practice your scales on the keyboard.

If you have already learned to play another instrument before playing the piano,

it will be easier to practice the scales and understand the concept. Guitar, trumpet, violin, …

How long does it take to practice the piano?

This is a very important question. As we have already said, learning to play the piano takes time. How many hours should you play per week, per day to progress?

This question does not have a universal answer. It depends on several factors and methods of learning the piano. First of all, not everyone has the opportunity to practice for two hours a day in front of their piano or score. Certain constraints (especially professional) have to be taken into account.

Next, everything depends on what your goal is: do you want to be able to play Liszt’s scores ? Then you need to take into account that it will be very difficult, and that you will have to work very hard: several hours a day at least. But you could also set a lesser goal and find out that it is possible to progress well at the piano by spending just a few hours a week practicing.

Finally, whether you practice for ten hours or two hours a week, the bottom line is that your learning should be regular. Try to block time in your schedule for taking piano lessons.

time to practice the piano

It is important to take time to start music lessons

My debut at the piano was less than glorious. I thought it would be possible to learn the pirate of the caribbean soundtrack just by practicing for several hours in a row. However, it is just as important to take breaks as it is to work regularly. After a few hours of practice, my brain was saturated and my hands could not keep up. Especially since I was not used to playing.

Do not forget to space your practice sessions throughout the week.

Alternating between music theory and practice can also be a way to avoid overheating your gray matter. You will progress faster and be more effective in terms of concentration. You will then go from a beginner to intermediate level more easily.

Other factors come into play: your work method, your ability to concentrate, your motivation, how regularly you practice. Overall, to give you an idea, bear in mind that the hourly threshold needed to make real progress is four or five hours a week: About an hour a day, not counting weekends. It is very difficult to progress at the piano if you only practice for one hour a week.

Piano learning for the youngest

Piano learning for the young people

Many parents ask, “At what age can our children start playing the piano?”

At the same time older beginners ask, “Am I too old to learn the piano? How long will it take?”

So, is age an important factor? It certainly plays its part, because learning the piano depends on the nerve cells, especially those in the brain and the process of nerve growth slows down with age.

Let’s examine the categories of beginners according to their age and the consequences of the slowing down of cell growth with age.

Ages 0-6: Itai??i??s good to not actually follow a course at this age, but instead to discover the piano gently!

Music can provide additional stimulation and help give babies a huge head start in brain development up to one year after birth.

All parents should have a good collection of piano music, orchestral music, piano and violin concertos, operas, etc., and play them in their child’s room, or somewhere in the house where the baby can still hear the music.

Many parents whisper and walk slowly while the baby sleeps, but this is not necessary. Babies can be trained to sleep in a noisy (normal) environment, and this is a healthier alternative.

Ages 6-12: Step by step musical training

Children between the ages of 6-12 can take advantage of the enormous brain growth that takes place during this age range. Learning is effortless and limited more by the teacher’s ability to provide the appropriate material than by the student’s ability to absorb it.

Ages 13-19: The Age of Maturity for Young Pianists

This is the age group where one can deepen one’s musical knowledge (playing and musical theory).

The pianist begins to define his pianistai??i??s sensibility …

And why not nurture his talent!

And when one is an adult?

Many adults who would like to start learning the piano ask themselves this question. You would certainly not learn as easily as a child. This is partly true: in general, we learn and remember better as a child than as an adult. This is true of living languages such as music, and especially the piano.

Even if this observation is partly true, one should not despair about learning the piano.

You can learn to play the piano at any age – indeed it is quite possible to become an excellent pianist even if you start playing at 30, 40 or even older. Some begin to learn the piano at retirement and become surprisingly good pianists a few years later. The bottom line is not age, it’s motivation. This is the fuel that will make you progress the most surely and quickly.

Piano learning for older people

Even at 90, there is still time to start music lessons!

Reading music and learning to play the piano require motivation whatever the age because they takes time and work. I learned how much effort is needed when I started guitar and piano lessons. A few hours are not enough to succeed in playing the piano easily. The progression is seen over time, so do not be discouraged.

On the other hand, it is quite true that an adult usually has less time available for piano learning. Professional life consumes a lot of an adultai??i??s time and energy.

The only way to learn the piano and progress (learning without progressing is quickly wearisome and boring) when you are an adult and objectively lacking time is to set a schedule and stick to it.

Regularity is the most important element. Even if you are overworked, it is still possible to find 30-40 minutes every two days to devote yourself to the piano. Especially when you know that on average a person watches television for 4 hours a day …

Practicing the piano can be as relaxing as watching a good television series. You should know that music in general has beneficial effects on the brain. It improves concentration and soothes anxieties. Indeed, if the vibrations engendered by music are in keeping with the rhythm of our body, it soothes our body and reduces our stress:

An excellent reason to go to the piano when you get home.

Learn alone or with a teacher?

There are many ways to learn to play the piano: alone, with a particular teacher, in a music school. There are no ready-made answers. Some autonomous people will be able to make great progress by working alone. Others, on the contrary, need to be supervised and supported to progress on their instrument.

learning piano with a teacher

It all depends on your goals too. If you simply want to succeed in playing two or three pieces in front of your friends, without learning music theory, learning to play alone will not be impossible. On the other hand, if you want to learn everything you need to learn, succeed in playing difficult pieces and really make progress, learning on your own will be very difficult. And thatai??i??s despite the internet today allowing you to have access in a few clicks to many written resources and videos (see below).

If you decide to learn on your own, without a teacher, you must take care to choose the right tools from the start. Your most valuable guide will be your method. There are now many methods for beginners wanting to learn the piano alone.

But again, you will need great motivation, perseverance and regular practice to progress. In practice, many of those who decide to learn the piano alone will, sooner or later, give up when they encounter obstacles or become demotivated.

Having started the piano in a self-taught way, I can assure you that regular practice is very hard to achieve. Not having a specific schedule to keep to restricted my learning and progress. If you’re the king and queen of procrastination, self-teaching is not for you, and especially not when it comes to an instrument like the piano.

Learning with your own teacher is certainly more expensive but ultimately much more valuable in the majority of cases. This is probably the best way to learn the piano.

A piano teacher is not just a teacher who teaches you the practice of the instrument, it is also a person who can motivate you, help you persevere and make you really love music. A piano teacher is by definition passionate about his instrument and, with passion being contagious, this should win you over (more easily). You will find dozens of passionate piano teachers to help you on Superprof.

A piano school is also an alternative solution to online piano lessons or attractive free courses on the internet. All kinds of courses are offered:

  • beginnersai??i?? piano lessons
  • private lessons
  • theory classes
  • introduction to music
  • jazz piano
  • classical piano
  • musical training
  • history of music
  • singing lessons

This is a series of classes that you can also find with private teachers and, most of the time, at a lower cost, if the expenses for the piano are not your priority.

Whether you work alone in your home or with the company of a piano teacher, the golden rule remains the same: to progress on the piano, you have to work at it. All pleasure is earned. To succeed in playing the pieces of your dreams, you will have to spend hours practising on your keyboard.

But this work can be more or less pleasant depending on the teacher you choose. With SuperProf, for example, you can choose the teacher that suits you. While discovering new styles in music can be very rewarding, choosing a teacher suited to your needs will help you progress more easily.

Some teachers will have more affinities with classical music, others with film music, and others with jazz or blues music.

Whatever it is, take a good look at each person’s profile before making your decision. If it feels right between you and the teacher, your lessons will be more enjoyable.

Private piano teachers are very often good teachers whether they give accordion lessons, guitar lessons, drum lessons, or indeed any instrument. Giving lessons is, above all, about sharing oneai??i??s passion with the student. The courses are progressive and allow you to deepen your knowledge and techniques while having fun. Pleyel method or colin method, starting the piano is above all a good way to learn music for pleasure.

Training can also be a source of pleasure and joy.

So if you are motivated and determined to learn the piano, do not hesitate and go for it!

Play the piano using Youtube videos!

Continuation and end of the tips of this special article “piano method” for beginners and beginners plus!

This is certainly not the best way to learn piano or just to learn to read music, but it has the benefit of being fun and interactive. Why not use the many videos on Youtube to perfect your level on stringed instruments?

Piano and youtube

Challenge: become a pianist by learning from Youtube videos …!

Youtube has it easy day after day, week after week, as pianists from around the world upload their own piano tutorial or interpretation of The Letter to Elise, Bach, Chopin, The Turkish March, Bach Prelude, Schumann …

Obviously, you will have to sort through them, because there is both food and drink on the video sharing site. We distinguish between two types of videos for learning to play piano pieces:

  • Synthesia type videos, where notes scroll in colour when theyai??i??re being played. A bit like Guitar Hero if youai??i??re a video game aficionado
  • The videos where the pianist is filming from the top to show the notes, the placements and the piece!

Let’s immediately warn beginners and apprentice pianists: these two ways of doing things are really not ideal for the laypeople. Why ? Simply, because they will always miss details about the piece chosen: silences, rhythm, phrasing … All things that have been annotated on the scores in various ways, and that pianists share from decade to decade!

They are really fun, though, for several reasons:

  • the video and auditory support that is often missing from the scores
  • the reinterpretation of some pieces in an unprecedented way
  • the ability to learn modern songs, sometimes just released (TV series, movies, singers / singers in fashion)
  • the opportunity to interpret the music in your own way, to get move away from certain formatting and, especially, to gain creativity.

If this trick seems very interesting, we recommend that you do not skip the box “learning music theory”. It would be like deciding to learn English with VOST movies, without going through the grammar and conjugation boxes. As a result, something will always be missing. You need solid foundations to make greater progress.

However, letai??i??s recognise that Youtube videos have the advantage of promoting piano learning for those who canai??i??t afford to take piano lessons. In addition, the pianist videos, rather than the Synthesia version, enable learners to see how to place fingers and hands on a piano.

This is a real plus for people who have a strong visual memory (ie most people).

These videos also allow you to open yourself culturally to on the history of music and the field of possibilities. Once you engage with one of the videos, a whole selection of videos about the piano become available to you on your screen. You can spend hours there.

Donai??i??t hesitate to spend time discovering the styles, the pieces, and the composers who appear in this way. Stroll through Youtube and tune in. By listening to as many different music styles as possible, you will develop your creativity and inspiration.

Finally, note that by typing “learn piano”, you will find many online courses and videos on Youtube. In the same way, do not hesitate to write “How to play (title of song) piano” in the search engine of the site. You will get very interesting and informative videos!

But from my experience, I know that learning the piano online is not always easy. Although one can be attracted by a certain form of freedom, with free piano lessons or indeed the teaching of some Youtubeurs, it is not always easy to establish rigour.

Piano lessons in music school, conservatoires, or at home allow for clearer and more rapid progress when you start out. Starting the piano, the flute, the drum or with lessons on any other instrument, you have to practise regularly and have a teacher you can exchange with.

This cannot always be found with a screen.

My pianist advice

The best way to learn to play the piano, in my opinion, is to take piano lessons provided by a qualified instructor.

Teachers will be able to guide you continually and provide feedback on your progress that no book, video or any amount of self-study can provide.

However, there may be several reasons that lead you to ask yourself the following question: “How can I learn by myself? “. You already know what your reasons are, so I wonai??i??t dwell on them.

If I had to do it again and again without a teacher, I would probably follow Andrew Furmanczyk (aka Lypur) on YouTube.

He is a young piano teacher who has produced a series of about 200 free videos on learning to play piano and music theory.

It starts with the very first things you need to know about the piano and theory, and how to progress gradually from there.

I think he is a good teacher, when he explains the basic techniques and recommendations for beginners.

Unlike live lessons, if you do not understand a particular concept, you can always watch the video again (as many times as you like).

And this method will not cost you anything.