Soft pedal, sostenuto pedal, sustain pedal…just the names bring to mind one of the most popular instruments in all of history - the piano.
So while it can be used to do other things besides just play music - think Julia Roberts lounging on a piano in Pretty Women - learning to play the piano is generally the goal.
Out of all the different piano models that fill the shops today, it’s the grand piano that we’re interested in talking about today. With it’s long horizontal lines and grand style, the grand piano fascinates and scares in turn beginner pianists.
There’s no age where it’s too late to begin learning to play the piano, but it will take a lot of practice before you’re ready to play Ravel’s Boléro.
If you want to translate your passion for music into music itself, it’s worth learning to play the grand piano.
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Grand Piano for beginners
Define your goals
Learning to play the grand piano is a large challenge, but it is achievable. However, in order to make sure you reach your goals, it is necessary to define them well.
It’s also important to keep your feet firmly planted - as talented as you are, you probably won’t be the next Mozart, Beethoven or Chopin after your first week of piano lessons. Give yourself concrete goals that will help you improve your piano playing and master your finger positions on your new instrument.
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A common goal for students of the grand piano is learning to play pieces of music from the famous composers and virtuosos that are appropriate for their level.
Little by little, note by note, and octave by octave, your hands will master the art of staying coordinated as they both skim the black and white keys, and below the piano bench your feet operate the pedals.
Learning to play the piano, rehearsing different melodies and improving your technique becomes a pleasure, and you can take pride whenever you move on to the next music book or sheet music.
Work on your ear for music
Improving your ear for music is just as important as improving the coordination of your hands, finger positions on the keys, or posture on the bench. Whether you’re playing an electronic piano or a grand piano, a lot remains the same.
Every piano player has their own strengths and trouble areas, and if you want to improve it’s important to really work on your music in order to:
- Understand the structure of a music from listening to it
- learn the movements of your hands on the keys and feet on the pedals
- Judge the level of technique required to play a piece of music
- Improve your ear for music in order to improve your piano playing.
There are several things you can do to help you improve quickly on the piano:
- listen to the piece of music several times before you play it
- go to piano concerts and watch the performances of others
- Watch videos of professional piano recitals
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Have fun playing the piano
In stark contrast to those of us slaving away in the office, it’s quite rare to find athletes, artists, or musicians who don’t truly love what they do.
Love for the music is a basic prerequisite to succeed at learning to play the grand piano.
If you don’t like playing the piano, singing or boxing just as much as Nina Simone, Michael Jackson or Mike Tyson, respectively, you’re going to struggle to progress to playing recitals.
In order to improve at the piano, you will obviously need to work hard, but it’s important not to let practicing make you fall out of love with the piano in the first place.
Here are a few strategies to preserve your love for the piano, even when you’re struggling to learn a new chord or find middle C.
Don’t just play boring technical pieces that are part of a standard curriculum for beginning pianists
Increase your repertoire and explore other styles of music like jazz, blues, even pop.
Play with the music a bit and experiment with adding your own style - don’t be afraid to stray from the sheet music a bit.
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Advance your study of the grand piano
“The important thing isn’t just to start the race, but to finish it.”
The popular quote could easily apply to beginners who’ve decided to learn how to play the piano. Whether you’re learning on a grand piano, acoustic upright, or digital piano, it is often difficult not to become disheartened and want to give up playing.
Learning the piano requires regular practice, dedication, and much more determination than you’d need for another instrument like the guitar.
Just like learning a foreign language, learning to play a grand piano takes lots of time, energy, and money, and can be a challenge to balance with your other interests and life in general.
Nonetheless, here’s a bit of advice for the most determined musicians, to help them avoid becoming discouraged as they try to learn to play the piano.
Working on your personal development
However small your progress may be, it’s important to celebrate all of your successes during your piano lessons.
Without feeling too self conscious, you can also celebrate your achievements on the piano with friends and family and online.
Showing off a little composition during a sleepover, sharing your new solo during a BBQ, or making a video tutorial à la Stromae can be a great way to share your new skill on the piano.
Be patient with yourself
“Good things come to those who wait”
It really cannot be said enough - learning to play the piano can often seem like a very long, difficult, and discouraging task.
The people who persevere, however, are the people who can really say they’ve learned how to play the grand piano. Here’s a bit of advice for while you’re still working up to learning how to play your favorite pieces of music on the piano:
- Regularly practice the piano for at least 15-30 minutes daily
- Don’t listen to your critics, or anyone telling you you’re too old or your hands too small to play the piano.
- Be patient, and one day you’ll be ready to play the piano like Ryan Gosling in La La Land
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What do you need to learn to play the grand piano?
Whether you’re teaching yourself, going to a music school, or taking classes at a conservatory, you should make a plan to learn to play the piano.
There are many different options for would be pianists eager to learn to run their hands over the ivory keys of a grand piano.
Try a music school or conservatory
With systems and a curriculum in place, signing up for piano lessons at a formal school can be a good idea for people wanting to learn how to play a grand piano.
With set curriculums and experienced teachers, music schools are a good place to learn to play the piano.
They normally offer group or private lessons, and different curriculums for children vs adults. About 2/3 of each lesson will normally focus on music theory, scales, and learning to read music.
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For the brave few who are willing to try, it is sometimes possible to teach yourself how to play the piano, at least to a certain extent.
We won’t go through all the elements here, put people who try and teach themselves how to play the piano will also need to work on all the theory and technique that goes with playing music.
And to learn how to play the grand piano on your own can be incredibly expensive if you want to be able to practice your playing, work on your scales, and learn new pieces of music from home.
But if you have the money, a good friend or a grand piano at your disposal somewhere, it might be possible.
A few things that can help as you become a musician and try to learn how to play the piano without a music teacher:
- Music books for beginners, or even better, piano tabs which show you the proper finger placements on the keys. Some books are also sold with CDs to help you hear the music.
- Free piano tutorials and online classes, as well as different web sites that walk you through practice exercises for the piano.
Learn to play the grand piano with a private teacher
We can’t deny it, signing up for private piano lessons is often the fastest way to improve and learn to play the grand piano. A private piano teacher can quickly whip you into shape with personalized piano exercises and corrections, and get you ready to sit down and play piano music on a Steinway baby grand.
Private piano lessons aren’t necessarily more expensive than classes at a music school, and going private means your piano tuition will be tailored to your schedule, level, and skill.
There are several different ways to find a private piano teacher:
- Visit your local music conservatory and see if any of the professors offer private piano lessons.
- Try your local music schools, and check your rec center program to find out if there are any teachers who might be interested in doing piano lessons on the side.
- Check the notice boards in your local post office and supermarket to see if anyone is advertising piano lessons.
- Take advantage of word on mouth - are any of your friends also sitting at the piano keyboard taking lessons, or are they even piano teachers themselves?
- Superprof! Our website puts private teachers in touch with would-be pianists in their local area, all over the world, and you can often find your first piano classes for a very good rate.
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