After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
~ Aldous Huxley
How to learn the piano is the subject of today’s post. It is one of those things that many of us wish to accomplish.
I was just at the orchestra a short while back and loved the music and apparent ease with which the pianists played those ivories.
So let’s see how we might be able to learn to play the piano together. I don’t believe that learning piano is any harder than learning any other instrument that you might choose. And in fact, whether you are thinking of learning to play piano or trumpet or guitar these same steps can help regardless of the instrument chosen.
The first thing to do is to prepare your mental state.
What I mean by this is that learning anything new is an effort in patience and dedication. As adults I think we forget that. We have become accomplished at so many things that we have taken for granted the effort required in learning something new.
We’ve learned how to walk, to run, to ride a bike and to drive a car. We are – at least most of us – skilled at these things. Yet we forget how long they took to learn.
I have recently started helping my son to learn how to drive and it is taking many months. As it should.
If I was learning to play piano I would give myself at least half a year to a year before I felt that I was entitled and competent enough to play a few songs.
I’d give myself 3 to 5 years if I was aiming to play by ear or by sight from music sheets.
Learning anything requires time commitment and dedication. And add to that heaps of patience as you find just how awkward, stubborn and unresponsive your fingers and hands are.
Give yourself the time required. That young man or woman who is playing so well right now has spend many years practicing every day. As an adult especially you have to really understand that it is going to take you at least a year or few to get to any level of moderate competence.
The next thing I’d do is buy myself a used or new full sized keyboard. I would NOT buy a piano, not even an upright.
You can get a full sized piano keyboard like this Casio keyboard for around $500.
You’re looking for weighted keys, especially if you wanting to learn the nuances of playing piano. What this means is that the harder you hit the keys the more robust they sound. This is important as at the beginning of sheet music you’ll often find tempo markings like the words “allegro” and “adagio” which often suggest not only the beats per minute but also a “tone” to your playing.
Also, with the Casio keyboard mentioned above you also have the option of adding foot pedals along with a stand to give you a more realistic feel to playing and learning piano.
The benefits of choosing a piano keyboard over a real piano are many. They weigh much less. Typically only around 25 or 30 pounds or less so they are easy to move around and take to gigs if you get to that stage.
A keyboard that you buy for around $500 will be 5 to 10 times cheaper than an upright piano not including the moving fees you’ll need to pay for piano movers. And let’s not talk about grand pianos. Grand pianos can fetch into the six figures for the very best of them.
Investing $500 or so is not a big loss if you find that after a few months or so that you are no longer interested in learning how to play piano.
Once you have got your head wrapped around the journey before you in becoming a moderately competent pianist i.e. it will take you a year or more, and you have your piano keyboard, it is time to look at lessons.
I recommend a 3 pronged approach to learning piano.
The first and perhaps foundational aspect to learning piano is to find a piano teacher in your neck of the woods. You can do this the old fashioned way through the yellow pages or online through sites like CraigsList.
You’ll also want to figure out what kind of piano you want to play. If you are older, an adult or teen, perhaps you are wanting to learn piano to play some of your favourite songs for friends and personal enjoyment.
I’d always suggest that as part of your learning you also learn how to read music, but you should also focus on how you want to learn.
Many teachers will offer classical training but that might not be suitable to everyone.
If you want to learn jazz piano or pop rock piano you should seek out a teacher who will focus on using those types of songs or musical pieces to teach you. It can be very rewarding to be able to play Coldplay’s Lost within a matter of a month or two. This might be just the motivation you need to succeed in sticking with piano playing through the difficult times and the plateaus of your learning.
As an adjunct to learning in person with a piano teacher I would also highly recommend an online piano teaching and training program. This particular online piano course is one of the best I have found. It’s inexpensive and offers a free 14 day trial so you can check it out.
They also offer all of the lesson types you’ll need include chords, reading music but more importantly they give you the funnest songs to learn as you go along. Songs from artists like Rihanna, Bruno Mars and more.
The last thing you might want to do in order to help along your piano learning is to find some actual books that help you with piano chords, or even music sheets and other general books on learning how to play the piano.
Alfred’s Teach Yourself to Play Piano is a great book and DVD course that will get you started and keep you going.
When you have all 3 of these best ways to learn piano you can’t go wrong. Remember to start with a good teacher and add an online course that you can use in the comfort of your own home and at any time of day or night. The addition of books and DVDs can be helpful but are not necessary.