A Guide to How to Get Started for the Best Results
Music is something that seems to fill the hearts of everyone around you with joy. It is great to be able to turn on your favorite song and bring joy directly into any space, but what is more powerful than that is having the ability to fill that space with music from your very own hand. There are some people that have the gift of being musically inclined. They seem to play by pure inspiration given directly from the heavens, but the vast majority of us struggle with the ability to play music of any kind.
Piano lessons have been forced upon children for years with most children of a certain age maintaining the memory of the one recital they were forced into playing by either their parents or their teacher. After that recital or the desire to so some other activity has taken the student’s attention, they are less likely to pursue any more piano lessons only to realize later it is one of their largest regrets. The great thing about piano lessons however is the fact that there is no age limit. There may be a cap off for how long your body will allow you to dance, but piano is something that anyone can do at any point in their life, so here is a guide for the best way to learn the piano along with some of the most asked questions on the subject.
What Will the Lessons Entail?
One thing that keeps people from pursuing their pianist dreams is not knowing what the actual lessons are all about. People wonder if they will be very difficult or take up a great deal of time. The truth is that the time it takes is greatly dependent upon your ability to grasp certain concepts. The first lessons will merely be about placement of the hands and fingering of the keys. The fundamentals of theory and technique are important as well and the time you devote to practicing should also be a factor. Any time you take to practice these fundamentals will be beneficial to the learning process. Read our piano keyboard reviews for help choosing your first model.
Fingering and its Importance?
You may be wondering exactly what fingering is. Fingering is a teaching tool in which each of your ten fingers is numbered to correspond with the sheet music. It tells you where to place your fingers and just like how you place your hands on the keyboard of a computer to properly type is the same reasoning behind fingering on a piano. Fingering takes into account the size of the student’s hands and makes playing that piano much easier no matter if the hands are small or large because they will be doing the same actions between all students just like on a computer keyboard. Learning the proper fingering techniques allows the student to play much more efficiently and offer a much smoother transition between notes.
What is the Proper Posture for Playing the Piano?
Just like when you were growing up and your parents tried to impart on you the importance of posture, it is a factor in playing the piano as well. As some of the performance pieces you will play can be quite lengthy, you will want to remain comfortable and the only way to do this is with the proper posture. The proper posture while playing the piano is much more than just sitting straight in your seat and without maintaining that posture, your music as well as your body, will suffer.
Sitting at a piano will be the most common playing position. There are some that choose to play standing up, but as a general rule, the height of the piano keys denotes for a sitting position. While sitting at the piano there should be minimum strain on the back. Your backside should be sitting all the way on the piano bench without sitting directly in the middle of the seat. When you choose to sit in the center of the seat, you will feel off balance and not as ready for the performance as you will feel when sitting closer to the front of the bench.
Your hands are another factor in proper posture. They should never feel constrained when playing. Hands should be able to be placed on the keys comfortably without having to stretch. As the height and the arm length of the individual player will be different, you should always adjust your seat each time you play to maintain your overall comfort level. Your elbows should be slightly bent to allow for optimal movement throughout the piano keys and your back should maintain a 90-degree angle while playing. It is perfectly acceptable to lean slightly forward while playing, but not to the point where you are hanging over the keys.
What is the Proper Positioning of the Hands?
When playing the piano, most of the work will be accomplished by your hands. Improper hand placement will not only interrupt your ability to play properly, it can also lead to underlying problems that may affect your overall ability to move your hands years down the road. Those that tend to practice improper hand placement tend to have stiff joints in their hands resulting in cramping and an inability to play for long periods of time. Having ongoing improper hand placement can even result on overworked muscles and arthritis of the hands. It is of vital importance that you always practice proper hand placement to ensure that these potential problems are minimized within your life.
The proper placement of your hands is where your fingers are slightly bent and the curves of your palms are arched. This positioning gives you the ability to move throughout the keys with ease. There is little need for stretching from this position and it gives you maximum flexibility while you play. You will find that in this position, you are less prone to fatigue even while playing for a considerable amount of time.
Special consideration should also be made for the nails on your fingers. Some choose to grow their nails out long or have them professional maintained for the performance, but long nails can get in the way while you are trying to perform. Nails that hang over the end of your fingertips will hit the keys before your fingertips strike them and that can make for quite a distraction from the clicking of the nails on the keys. Improper nail length can also keep you from maintaining the proper positioning of your hands on the keys because you will be trying to account for the nails. Keep your nails trimmed and clean for optimal performance every time.
What is Theory and its Relationship to Playing Piano?
Thinking of theory brings up memories of high school where we were force to learn about endless theories in both science and math. Music theory is a bit different. It is quite important in your ability to play the piano and understand the relationship of the notes, but it is a set of rules to be followed while playing. Becoming fluent in music theory means that you have a deep understanding of the music itself and can understand the piece to be played by merely glancing over it.
The language of music theory is a composed blend of time and key signatures that can be understood by someone fluent. The lines, spaces, and even not placement are all a part of the theory as well. Learning music theory may not be completely essential to your ability to play a piece, but it will greatly help your ability to play in a more fluid fashion with an understanding of the intricate parts of the music.
Different Methods for Learning the Piano
Learning to play the piano is an attainable goal no matter your status or age and it is something that should be pursued when presented with the desire. There was a time when the act of learning to play the piano relied on going to a teacher for lessons or having them come to your home these teaching methods are truly not outdated these days, but they are now not the only way of learning. Software is available to teach the self-starting individuals directly from the computer. There is also the option of do it yourself books and even the notion of an illuminated keyboard that is a form of teaching by doing. The choice is yours, but you do need an understanding of both traditional piano learning methods as well as some of the modern software based programs to find out what works best for you.
It is important to remember that people learn differently. For those that learn in the traditional manner of instructor teaching the student with a hands-on approach, then traditional teaching methods are the best option. Some people will shy away from this form of learning for fear of embarrassment or simply the inability to pay for lessons. Piano lesson prices are different depending on where you live, but they tend to be among the most inexpensive lessons around. There is also no need for feeling embarrassed as your instructor understands that everyone has to start somewhere and there will be mistakes along the way.
The traditional piano teacher tends to teach out of their home or have a separate studio that they teach from. If you have a piano in your own home, you may even be able to have a teacher come to your home to teach so you will not be apprehensive about going to another place to learn. Lessons are usually at least once per week and between that time the teacher will give your lessons to practice. Spanning the lessons out for too long, such as once per month can lead to the student forgetting what has been taught between lessons.
We live in the technological era where everything is done online. That is the same notion that many are now taking with learning the piano. Though this is not the traditional way to learn the piano, it is attractive to some because of the lack of actual human interaction. By learning through the computer, there is no fear of messing up as there is not always a live person present. The student is able to learn via videos on the internet or just instructional tutoring, so they are able to choose how they take in the information.
Some software programs have even begun to be so sophisticated that they can detect when the student makes a mistake and assist them on correcting them. It sounds like this form of learning may be out of a futuristic movie, but the advancements made into sound recognition technology has made learning every instrument including the piano accessible to everyone.
Light up Keyboard
If you are among the many that are more visual study based rather than simply instructional, the option of learning the piano through a light up keyboard may be very attractive. Some people prefer to teach themselves rather than have an instructor. The keyboards that light up the keys for you to play the notes of a song may be one of the greatest innovations into piano instruction. They can teach virtually anyone to play a simple song, but the only drawback to this form of learning is that is more about memorization than anything. Memorizing a song is great if you want to impress a few people with just that song, but the ability to play technically and correctly will require that you utilize a form of teaching that instructs based on the fundamentals of piano playing. Read our post on how to learn to play the keyboard.
Do it Yourself Methods
There are some people that simply do not like to be taught by a traditional teacher nor do they like the online instruction that is available today. The option of a do it yourself form of learning is highly attractive to many because of the fact that you can fit the teaching into your individual schedule. Many books and instructional guides are available from your local bookstore that will teach you the basics and the fundamentals of the piano. Be sure however to invest in a quality book to ensure that the instruction is sound. You do not want to pay a lot of money for a book without sound teaching methods.
Learning to play the piano is an attainable goal for anyone. By putting forth the effort to learn this skill you will not only be able to impress your friends and family, but you will enrich your overall life. Playing the piano allows you to enter a world of past composers that wraps you in song. It is great therapy for a hectic lifestyle and a great way to slow down. You will not learn to play the piano in merely one day, but with the right amount of time and effort, you can play like the professional you have always aspired to be.