Learning piano is easier (and more accessible) than ever before. No longer do you have to search the phonebook for piano teachers in your area or find an in-person course.
In today’s age, all you need is internet access (and a keyboard or piano, of course) to try your hand at a new instrument.
How to Start Playing Piano
Before you can learn notes and scales, you have to get access to a piano or keyboard.
Find Your Instrument
It might be a good idea to rent an instrument before you invest in your own. Many music stores will rent to you so you can figure out exactly what kind of piano you need before buying.
You might also contact friends or family who play instruments. They might have a piano (or know someone who does) and be willing to let you practice on it. They may even let you take it off their hands for a great price.
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Keyboards are cost-effective options if you can’t find a piano. Not only are they much cheaper, but they’re maneuverable and don’t have to be regularly tuned like their acoustic counterparts.
Get Comfortable With It
You’re going to spend a lot of time with your piano and keyboard, so you might as well get to know it. Set aside some time to sit with your instrument and learn its nuances.
Not only will this make practicing less intimidating, but it’ll help you figure out if your instrument is in tune or not. You may need to consult a more experienced musician or download a tuning app.
You can skip this part if you have a keyboard. Instead, use that time to explore the different buttons and features your device has.
Consult your manual or piano book if your instrument came with one. If not, you can research your model online and learn about the keys through tutorial videos.
After you have a good grasp of the key’s names and differences, make sure you know the proper way to sit at your piano or keyboard. Proper posture is incredibly important in learning a new instrument.
Choose Your Path
What’s the best way to learn piano? Are you someone who likes to practice new skills alone? Or do you enjoy the guidance of a teacher?
Your learning style will influence what the best way to learn piano is for you. There are many options on the internet. Choosing the right one for your needs is the first step in your piano-mastering journey.
Find a Teacher
If you flourish under a helpful hand, finding a teacher may be one of the best ways to learn piano for you.
Believe it or not, in-person piano teachers still exist. You can search online for professionals in your area, or ask for recommendations through your local music store. Chances are there’s someone who works there that’s willing to take on a new student.
If you still struggle to find a teacher, consider looking outside of your community. There are many online teachers as well that would be willing to help you over video chatting services.
If you like to discover new things on your own without someone hovering over your shoulder, this method is for you.
This is one of the best ways to learn piano for a lot of people, especially those who are introverted or have a busy schedule.
There are several ways to go about learning how to play the piano yourself. You can pick up books on how to play, or study music theory first and apply your knowledge to the keys.
There are easier options than these, though. Thanks to the internet, there are many online courses and programs you can take at your own pace.
Programs like Piano For All are easy and fun to use. They offer a series of step-by-step online piano lessons for musicians of all skill levels. Piano for All has over 200 videos that lead into each other so your progress feels smooth and natural.
Piano for All uses the power of visual association to help you learn the piece of music faster. The hands on the keyboard display mimic your own and color the keys as you play them.
Piano for All offers a foundational style of teaching that helps you learn basics that can be applied in any direction. You won’t get stuck only knowing how to play two or three songs with this program. You’ll have skills you can develop any way you want.
Study the Basics
When learning any new skill, you have to start by taking baby steps. You’re not going to sit down at a piano and be able to bust out full-fledged pieces right off the bat.
Before you can learn any songs on piano, you have to learn the notes, scales, and piano chord cadences. Practice these until you have a good grasp of their nuances. These are the foundational blocks that will allow you to better learn pieces later on.
As you study and practice these, make sure your hand and wrist position is correct. If you’ve picked the do-it-yourself route and don’t have a teacher to ensure your posture is good, you can consult online resources such as YouTube videos.
Once you have the basics down, you can start practicing the piano in earnest.
Learning the notes on a piano takes time and memorization, but it is essential in succeeding in your practice.
The musical alphabet goes from A through G. The sooner you can recognize these notes, the sooner you will be able to read and understand music.
Did you ever sing the Do-Re-Mi song in music class as a kid? Each of those parts correlates to a key on the piano.
Here comes the confusing part: while the parts of the song each represent a key, they don’t do so in alphabetical order as we understand it. Instead, it starts with C and goes through F, then circles back to A and B.
With time and dedication, you can master these notes.
Sharps and Flats
The black notes on a keyboard are known as either “sharps” or “flats.” Sharps are noted by a number sign (#) while flats are marked by “b.”
Sharps raise the note by a semitone (or half step) and flats lower it the same amount. It’s important to remember that the white keys can play these notes as well, along with all of the main notes.
Make a Schedule (and Stick to it)
No matter what method you’ve chosen, it won’t work if you don’t set aside time to do it. You can buy the best piano learning software out there (we recommend Piano For All), but it can’t learn the piano for you.
If you’re attending in-person lessons, it should be easy to take that time regularly. If you’re self-teaching, however, it may be harder to keep yourself on track.
Find the times in your schedule you have free. Then, decide which of those times you feel the most attentive and productive.
Are you happy to rise early in the mornings to stretch your fingers on the ivories, or does the thought of getting up before the sun make you wince?
Can you stay up late and focus on your new passion, or does sleepiness take over before nine o’clock?
Once you’ve picked the best times for you to practice, it’s time to make yourself sit down and do it.
Sometimes the goal of becoming a master piano player isn’t enough to motivate you to do the work. If that’s you, consider asking your partner or friend to keep you accountable. It’s even more helpful if they also play an instrument and you can hold them accountable in return.
If all else fails, you can always set up a reward system. Maybe for every thirty minutes of practice, you watch an episode of your favorite television show. Whatever works for you!
Practice, Practice, Practice
The best way to learn piano, or any instrument, is simply to practice.
You’re probably wondering just how many hours a week you need to practice. Reputable musicians say you should play your instrument between 10-15 hours a week.
If that sounds like a lot, try starting smaller and working your way up to it. You don’t have to become the piano player of your dreams all at once. It’s a long, slow process.
The more you practice, the better you will get, and the more you will be motivated to improve.
There are even ways to practice away from your piano or keyboard. If you find yourself with a few spare minutes at work or school, try holding your hands in the correct position and play an imaginary keyboard. Listen to the notes in your head as you play them.
You can also try listening to an instrumental piano piece on your commute and imagine the musician’s hands as they play the keys.
If you’re dedicated to learning the piano, practicing must become a regular part of your day. If it’s something you find yourself dreading after a while, find a way to make it fun again. Learn a fun melody from your childhood or your favorite part of a song you always turn up on the radio.
If you’re really bored with where you’re at in your practice, try learning a new genre or technique entirely.
It doesn’t matter what you choose to practice. The most important thing is to not give up.
Keep an Open Mind
If you get stuck with one method of learning to play the piano, that’s okay! Not every path is for everyone.
Don’t be afraid to switch it up and ask for help if you need it. If you’ve tried to teach yourself from a book and you’re just not getting it, consider finding a teacher or an online program like Piano For All. If you have an instructor but their teaching style doesn’t mesh well with you, try a program or learning by yourself.
Learning how to play an instrument is a journey with many ups and downs. There’s a lot of hard work and struggle that goes into it. Chances are, it’s going to change you a little bit. So don’t be surprised if you’re learning style changes as well, and you need to seek out another course of action.
Tips and Tricks
The best way to learn piano, or any new skill, is to take it in small bites at a time.
Nothing will stop you from enjoying the process like being overwhelmed.
You can prevent this from happening by taking things slow and steady. When I say to take your time, I don’t just mean learning the skill itself.
I mean literally, move slowly. Don’t expect to be able to move your hands quickly over the keys in the beginning. You have to make sure you’re playing accurately. It doesn’t do any good to hit the notes quickly if you’re not hitting the right ones.
Allow time for muscle memory to develop, and you’ll be playing faster than you ever thought in no time. But until then, don’t rush. Your practice time is just as productive if you only get through part of the material.
Remember: slow is smooth, smooth is fast. You have to take it slow to be accurate in the beginning, but as you practice you’ll be able to hit each note faster and faster.
Warming up before any exercise is incredibly important, and piano is no different. Stretching out and getting your hands ready before practicing can prevent long-term injuries and strains.
Often, when we are so focused on developing a new skill, we forget to take care of our bodies. Don’t let your love of music negatively impact your health. Stretch your hands out before playing to increase blood flow and remove stiffness in your busy appendages.
Don’t worry if you’re new to the world of warm-ups. There are many resources online for piano players new and old, such as these five fun warm-ups.
Play With Others
Wise people surround themselves with those who know more than them. If you want to expedite your piano learning process, one easy way to do this is to just spend time with experienced musicians.
Not only will you be able to learn from example, but more advanced piano players may also have resources or tricks that helped them at the start of their journey.
If you’re not familiar with any other piano players, try going down to your local music shop to meet some. You may even be able to find a mentor who is willing to offer you a little bit of help here and there on your DIY path.
If nothing else, play a little bit for your family and friends. Another ear, even an inexperienced one, can help you see where you have room for improvement.
Learn to Sight Read
Learning to sight-read can open up a whole new world for musicians. If you’re interested in one day translating your piano skills to another instrument, sight-reading is pivotal for you.
Though it is one of the most challenging parts of learning piano for beginners, with time and dedication you can master it.
If this seems at all intimidating, consider checking out Piano For All. Piano For All allows you to learn how to sight-read as you go, so your mind makes the connection between what you’re hearing and what you’re seeing.
This is a one-of-a-kind feature that you won’t find with any other piano learning program. Piano For All is designed with the art of visual association in mind, so you’ll hardly even realize you’re learning to sight-read.
Trust us, this is not a step you want to skip when learning the piano (or any other instrument). Learning to sight-read will be the difference between knowing how to play a few famous classical songs on piano, and being able to play anything you want.
Set Realistic Goals
Remember when we said slow is smooth, smooth is fast? That applies to your progress too.
What do you want to be able to play by the end of the month? By the end of the week? Knowing where you want to go can help you stay focused and determined, even when you start to grow weary of the craft.
Taking on a big project like learning an instrument is much more feasible if you’re realistic about what progress you can make in a specific amount of time. If you can only practice a few keys a day, that’s fine! Something is always better than nothing.
Keep in mind your long-term goals as well. You chose to pick up piano for a reason. Why? Whatever it was, write it down on a note. Put it by your instrument and look at it every time you sit down.
Build your short-term, more accessible goals out of your big, long-term ones. To get to where you want to be, you have to do a little bit at a time. Before you sit down at the piano each day, decide what you want to accomplish.
As the Head Editor at Music Grotto, Liam edits content produced from over 30 professional music/media journalists and contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.