It is only natural to be nervous about starting on a new chapter in life. And, you are not alone in this. The piano can intimidate, but it surprises pleasantly when you have tamed it! With a little bit of preparation, a good bit of expert guidance and a lot of patience, your piano learning journey can become one of your most memorable ones.
Remember to start small. That works almost always!
For starters, try to relax and focus on the goals of your learning - what do you hope or wish to achieve from learning how to play the piano? Do you want to become a successful stage artist? Do you want to play in a band or simply want to learn the piano for your own pleasure?
Here is all you need to know about taking piano courses in India.
Narrow down your objectives for signing up for piano lessons. Your next objective should be to get the basics of piano right - the sales, beginner exercises, and maybe one simple tune. Your first lesson will be all about your introduction to the instrument.
The First Steps in the World of Piano Learning
Whether you learn piano, guitar, drums, saxophone, flute, or harmonica, learning to play an instrument isn’t free. That said, there are free piano lessons available on websites like YouTube but these aren't the best way to learn to play the piano.
Decide on the Musical Instrument: Keyboard or Piano
This is your decision to make! Decide whether you want to learn using a large piano or want to press a key on the modern electronic keyboard. Despite being almost the same, there are differences in the playing techniques of both. A truly passionate music teacher would be able to guide you on making this important choice.
Don't Forget to Ask for a Demo Lesson
This is the last step in your piano tutor screening process. Once you have shortlisted two or three prospective candidates for the post of your piano teacher, ask for a demo lesson. This would help you check out their teaching technique. This not only ensures the student-teacher compatibility but also gives you a fair idea about the qualifications of the teacher. You will also ideally develop a good idea of your teacher's temperament.
Here is all you need to know about the cost of piano lessons in India.
Fortunately for budding pianists, there are plenty of different types of pianos for different budgets (grand pianos, upright pianos, synthesizers and keyboards, electronic pianos, etc.). Once you’ve got your instrument, equip yourself with this guide on how best to prepare for your first piano class.
Establish a Personal Connection with Your Music Teacher
Your very first lesson may be the most important. You need to talk to your tutor about what you’re going to work on (music theory, arpeggios, reading sheet music, coordinating your right hand and your left hand, etc.).
Your first lesson will involve getting to know one another as well as evaluating your skill level in music. If you’ve never touched a piano in your life, your tutor will probably give you some exercises that’ll help improve your dexterity, coordination, and your ear.
We learn through our curiosity for knowledge. So, don't be afraid to ask questions! For example, based on your learning objectives, you may name a few songs you’ve always wanted to play on a piano or your favorite pianists whom you have always wanted to emulate. Here is a beginner's toolkit on asking some useful questions to your piano instructor before starting out:
- What musical equipment, music books or other accessories will I need?
- How is a typical lesson structured?
- What do you expect of me as a student?
Remember, most teachers enjoy teaching and are inspired when they see someone who really tries. In fact, a good teacher will tell you that the best way to learn is to learn from your mistakes so that you may learn how to avoid the problem in the future. Whether it is an issue with fingering, hand position, eye movements or any other aspect of learning the piano.
Mastering Piano Techniques
The piano may appear to be a big and bulky instrument. But, you need to handle it delicately. Feel your way along with the keys until you get the tap just right. For example, gently tap a finger on one key; see how lightly you can tap. Notice how the sound takes on a soft, almost bell-like quality. Now strike that key harder and notice how it brightens and becomes more percussive. Training the fingers to control these piano dynamics is one of the basics of piano study.
The piano techniques can include, among others:
- Reading piano music
- Recognizing piano notes
- Coordinating both hands
- Learning chords
- Playing scales
The Superiority of the Fingering Technique
The best way to develop interpretation and expression of musical notes is through the repertoire. In some countries, it is common to have a student just do drills for five years before they are allowed to actually play any music on the piano. Not surprisingly, these are some of the most accurate and fastest pianists in the world.
The best thing to do is to study music along with finger technique.
A true professional pianist is usually someone who can read the printed fingering, the implied fingering as well as their personalized fingering. In order to do this, one must be keenly aware of the fingers to be used on a passage. For example, if you see that the passage starts on an “A” and then ascends by step via line-space-line-space-line-space, then you can assume that the notes are moving directly up the scale. It is not necessary to read the actual name of each note. Simply read the first note of a sequence and then relatively move to each note from there, by using adjacent fingers.
Learning How to Read Musical Compositions
Composers rarely start out with the most difficult passages.
The most efficient way to study compositions is to learn the most difficult sections first. This is so much better than the typical way of learning music by picking up the first part first! The problem is that we often stop pushing ourselves to learn the later parts as the music gets sloppier and slower, and we start growing frustrated.
Scan through the new composition and determine which sections appear to be the most difficult. Start from there. The result will be that all the sections will be equally-mastered and this is what will help you reach your goal sooner than later!
Playing by Ear
This is equally important in the learning process of how to become an expert pianist. And, it is not always easy to do, as it requires a fair bit of interpretation of the chords on your part so that your personal version of the song can be easily recognized. Not surprisingly, we often come across sayings such as "you must have been born with an ear for music to be able to play like that!" However, we say, "anyone can learn how to play by ear." All you need to invest is a little bit of effort and a lot of devotion to learning.
How does one look for a great piano teacher? Read our guide here.
Learning the Piano Through Popular Songs
In case your ultimate learning goal is to play popular music, you don't necessarily have to start by studying how to play classical piano. We often ignore the great value in studying popular chord technique and improvisation. Sometimes, the best way to study music theory is through popular music! The reason is attributed to the straightforward nature of chords (often referred to as 'guitar chords') which does not even require the reading of music!
A Curated List of Favorites
Here are a few good songs for the piano to get you started (yes, we love Adele):
- Imagine by John Lennon
- Beethoven’s Fur Elise
- Comptine d’un autre été l’après midi by Yann Tiersen
- Someone Like You by Adele
- Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
- Je te promets by Johnny Hallyday
- Let it Be by Beatles
- Clocks by Coldplay
- Hey Jude by Beatles
- Piano Man by Billy Joel
- Skyfall by Adele
- The Scientist by Coldplay
- Get Lucky by Daft Punk
- James Bond Theme
- Simpson’s Theme
When you are a student of piano (or the keyboard), learning across music genres is often more a necessity than an exception. With pop music, especially for beginners, you will find it easier to practice chords on songs you hear every day.