Perhaps you’re interested in piano because you want to be able to enjoy making music, want to write your own someday, or maybe you want to impress your friends with a really cool skill! No matter your reason, you will need to start somewhere.
The Indian music industry has a very beautiful relationship with the Piano, with a lot of good Indian Bollywood songs using the music of the Piano to enhance the lyrics. The instrument was popularised by the British, but over the years it has made its way into schools, dramas, and Indian cinema.
Fun fact: "Early Piano were called Fortepianos. Forte and Piano are both Italian words, Forte means Loud whereas Piano means Soft"
Learning the piano takes time and dedication, and there is no shortcut to becoming a master. However, there are things you can do to expedite your learning and help you get better faster.
What Do You Need To Know?
What should I practice to get better at piano? Taking the time to get familiar with mechanics and theories before tackling the piano itself can help you speed up the learning process.
Though not impossible, jumping straight into learning piano without knowing anything about the foundations can feel like trying to learn how to read without knowing the alphabet.
Before diving into your piano-learning journey, practice these basics, so you can start playing with confidence faster.
How to Get Comfortable At The Piano
Though it might seem unlikely, playing the piano can quickly become exhausting. As is the case with any new activity, whether it be an instrument, a sport, a hobby, or a job, it takes time to condition the muscles to gain endurance.
To avoid learning bad habits, begin practicing the proper way to get situated at the piano right from the start.
Before you can begin learning how to play, you will need to understand the basics of posture. This may seem trivial and boring however, proper posture is meant to avoid injury and fatigue, and allow you to play better for longer. You will also look more professional, which will help your gravitas while performing.
As you continue on your piano playing path, you will eventually need to learn how to take care of your instrument, such as tuning a piano, but first, you need to focus only on yourself.
Using Two Hands At Once
It’s important to practice using both hands because, obviously, the piano is played with both hands. Having this skill in your back pocket before you start piano lessons will bypass the need for your teacher to spend time on this with you. You will likely need help perfecting the technique, but building the brain-body connection before you start lessons will give you an advantage.
To practice moving the hands around and hitting your mark, you can play scales, arpeggios, and chords. Practice with the right hand, the left hand, and then both at the same time.
Over time, you will master your playing skills in both hands, and learning new music will be much easier!
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How to Position Your Body at the Piano
Sit directly in front of the middle of the keyboard. Your arms need to be almost perpendicular to the keys. Your elbows need to be at the same height as the keys. And you will need to be able to access the pedals. You may need to find a taller or shorter bench to sit on to ensure your arms are at the proper height.
Your back must be straight, with relaxed shoulders, arms, and hands. Beginners tend to lean towards the piano, which can cause back pain.
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Getting Familiar with Learning to Play Music
So, you’ve found the perfect height for your bench, arms, and hands. You can reach all the keys easily and you have begun to get the hang of using both hands at once. Now, you can start learning more practical piano lessons, like scales, music theory, and reading and playing music.
Working on Your Scales
We mentioned scales as a means of practicing with the hands earlier in the article. Scales are one of the most popular piano exercises in the world because they are simple to learn, effective for practice, and crucial for understanding music.
Scales can be used to improve how quickly you can play. Your arms, hands, and brain will begin to work faster to hit the notes you need.
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Most songs use scales as one of the foundations, so when you learn scales, you learn how to recognize them in a piece of music. This will help you break down the music into more digestible pieces, allowing you to learn faster and gain confidence. A student learning a piece of music in a certain key will learn it more quickly when they recognize the scale.
Scales are also useful when you first start out because they can help you understand music theory. For example, learning to recognize the elements that make up a major or a minor scale. Scales are a practical element of music theory, so understanding them in practice will help you understand more in theory.
Understanding Music Theory: Notes
Music theory is studying the common practices, components, and possibilities of music. You could potentially learn to play the piano without familiarizing yourself with any music theory. However, you’ll quickly find your abilities are limited. It may hinder your ability to read and play any music because music theory teaches how to anticipate what comes next. Otherwise, each and every note might feel random or like a surprise.
Fortunately, there are plenty of books dedicated to the subject. You can buy or borrow many different books and ebooks to learn about music theory. There are also plenty of music theory videos on YouTube talking about the many different aspects of the theory. However, if you are finding it difficult to understand, it may be hard to get the knowledge you need without a teacher who can explain it to you better.
The notes for all instruments are A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, with sharps and flats to modify the notes. You will need to be able to recognize these notes written on a staff in order to be able to play sheet music.
Being able to read notes is actually quite simple. It will take practice, but over time it will become natural and you will be able to play new music the very first time you see it.
By learning about music theory at a music school or with the help of a private tutor, you’ll progress much more quickly. Understanding music theory is crucial for progressing your skills from beginner to more advanced, including learning how to play improvisational piano.
Understanding Music Theory: Rhythm
Well-sequenced notes combined with good rhythm creates music. One without the other is just sounds.
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Rhythm is also an important part of music theory. You need to be able to read what the notes are but also how to play them. Are they short, abrupt, and solitary, or are they long, drawn out, and run into each other? You’ll need to know how many beats a note is held: an eighth, quarter, half, whole, etc. You’ll also need to learn how to play notes that slur or glissando.
Eventually, you will combine notes and rhythm, but you need to practice both skills separately at the beginning.
Reading and Playing at the Same Time
Once you are comfortable with your music theory and reading music, there’s one more piece in the puzzle. You’ll have to play the music while reading. This is something that’s really difficult in the beginning because you’ll need to do a lot of things at the same time.
You may be able to practice this a little on your own, but it may be difficult to improve upon without guidance. This is where a piano teacher can help immensely, as they give you feedback to allow you to learn better and faster.
Bit by bit, reading and playing music will become second nature. Keep this in mind every time you type something on the computer. Remember when you used to struggle to find the right keys with your fingers? Just by using your computer every day, you probably don’t even look at the keyboard anymore when you’re typing! The piano's the same. Just be patient!
There are lots of tips for learning how to play the piano, which are helpful, but the bottom line is you’ll need to practice to get better. It’s normal to make lots of mistakes when you’re a beginner. Stick with it and you’ll soon start progressing faster and faster.
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How Long Does it Take to Learn to Play the Piano?
Everyone will learn in their own time. Some people have the ability to practice for hours each day, and some can only do a handful of minutes. Some people have a natural inclination for learning piano, and some people take longer to learn. If you are learning strictly on your own, it might take longer. If you are learning with the help of a piano teacher then you might progress faster.
Furthermore, it completely depends on why you’re learning to play the piano. You need a strong “why” just like any other commitment. If you want to learn the piano because you think it will make you look cool, then you probably aren’t going to learn as fast or as well as someone who genuinely loves the music and wants to recreate it themselves.
Also, remember what it will look like for you when you decide you have learned piano. Would you consider yourself learned when you can read and play simple songs, or do you consider yourself unfinished until you can compose your own piece? Neither end goal is better than another, but they will take unequal amounts of time to achieve.
The length of time spent practicing doesn’t mean much if the quality of the practice is low. When you do practice, ensure that you are able to concentrate and have a high-quality practice. If you do not feel like you are able to focus on the practice, then it probably isn’t helping you improve very much. Just practice as much as you can, as regularly as possible.
Your unique learning curve might not look like you’d expect, but don’t get discouraged no matter what! You can learn anything you set your mind to!
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