Everyone can learn to play a piano. Whether you are a 6 year old kid or an adult in your thirties. Whether you are extremely gifted or just an average person with the desire to be a musician. Or someone who always had the passion but never the time or money to learn a piano; you can learn to play a piano in a short time, provided you are willing to put in the required effort. Not only playing piano is educational and fun, it also has its therapeutic and health benefits.
As pleasant and soothing a piano tune is to our ears, it also helps us by:
- Improving your cognitive skills;
- Improving your hand-eye coordination;
- Improving your motor skills;
- Improving concentration levels;
- Building Confidence;
- Reducing Stress and Anxiety levels.
So even if you find yourself to be not the next Chopin, you must still give piano playing a try for all the benefits it brings to your body, life, mind and soul. The best part about learning to play a piano is, any one can learn a piano and age has nothing to do with it!
How to Get Started with Piano?
The best and easiest way to learn a piano in a short duration, is to take piano lessons from experienced professionals. Though, piano courses are seldom low priced, they are the most effective way to get yourself familiar and develop expertise with the instrument. The key to learning piano, however, remains practicing as much as you can, for long hours. We will also recommend you to buy a piano, if you are really serious about piano lessons. You need not have to invest too much into a costly, acoustic piano at the beginning; go for the digital pianos – they are much less costlier and give the same feel and performance as of a real, acoustic piano. You could also opt for a second hand acoustic piano, if you do not want to buy a digital keyboard. Having a piano at home helps you practice as much as you want, in your preferred environment.
To help you gain some more insights into what playing a piano entails for you, below listed is a step-by-step guide to how to learn to play piano.
Step 1: Know Your Notes
While they may at first do not mean much to you and look anything but readable, musical notes are the ABCs of music. You need to learn them to play any instrument. Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si, Do are the musical notes which correspond to C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C respectively. Of these E, G, B, D are the Bass Clefs (also called G Clefs), while C, F, A, C are Treble Clefs (or F Clefs). The treble Clefs are usually those higher notes that are often played with the right hand; they start from the middle C (at the center of the piano) all the way to the end of the keyboard. The bass Clefs (or G Clefs) are the lower pitch, all left to the middle C and played by the left hand of the pianist.
Step 2: Know Your Keys
This is most essential for a piano learner. You must first completely familiarize yourself with the keyboard layout, note names and the piano finger numbers. For which, a proper (and comfortable) posture, sitting position and some basic keyboard skills are very helpful. Secondly, you must know the difference between the black and white keys of a piano. The white keys play the major notes. The black keys play the sharps (#) and the flats (b), which add “flavor” to any musical piece. e.g. if you play out the note ‘D’ on the piano, the black note to its left is D flat, while the black note to its right is D sharp.
The Black keys are found in groups of threes and twos; Look for the group of five black keys, right at the center of the piano. The Middle C is the white key placed to the left of the two black keys in the exact middle of the piano. If you go up or down the length of the keyboard, you will notice that every white key to the immediate left of any set of two black keys is a C or Do. You will do well do practice this out a bit, and learn to match all the notes to the black and white piano keys.
Step 3: Learn Piano Scales
Mastering the music scales is the key to a solid foundation to piano learning, or any other musical instrument. It goes a long way in helping you get familiar with the keyboard, as well as helps you during the latter stages in composing your own music. Learning piano scales might not be the most interesting part of piano learning, but it is most essential. Practicing scales forms a connection between your fingers, your thinking process and the keys.
There are 12 major scales (Major Scales I and Major Scales II), and 36 minor scales (consisting of the natural minors, melodic minors, harmonic minors – 3 x 12). It will take you hours and hours of practice to just explore the various levels of scales, but in the end you will find your confidence, technique, familiarity with the keyboard, ability to read, learn and memorize music, all enhanced remarkably well. It must be noted that without gaining proficiency in scales (most teachers and players avoid them), you will never be able to achieve a high level of piano skills.
Step 4: Learn Piano Chords
These are as essential (if not more) as learning to play piano scales. From the most basic “triads” or three-note chords, to the more complex ones (jazz or blues), having an extensive knowledge and vocabulary of chords is key to becoming an accomplished piano player.
Chords are usually played by the left hand on the Treble Clefs (or F Clefs). There are 12 major and 12 minor chords in a piano. While major chords have fuller sound to them, the minor chords tend to sound flat and slightly dissonant. The happier tone of the major chords makes them ideally suited to be used in a happy background music, while the minor chords are mainly used to create suspense and thrill in the piece. e.g.The major chords in C scale are C, D, E, F, G, A, B and C, which are the same as the piano notes, but major chords have fuller sounds as they consist of 3 notes (triads). When you play a certain chord “flat”, you are automatically turning it into a minor chord instead of a major chord. For beginners, it is advisable to stick to learning the major chords, before they move on to the finer, minor chords.
Step 5: Keep the Rhythm Going
While notes, chords and scales, give you a solid foundation, to become a true pianist or a musician, you must know how to play in proper rhythm. A person who has no rhythm or cannot develop a sense of rhythm, simply cannot make music. Even if you are playing only a portion of a song, you must keep playing it at a set rhythm, never mind if you miss a note or two, or forget to play a major chord…just do not let the rhythm break. And before long, you will be able to make changes in the rhythm on your own, vary it according to your taste or, in other words, learn how to make music! You must remember that notations are important though, and a rhythm played with proper notes, punctuated by well-placed silences is the key to making beautiful music.
Step 6: Learn to Play with Both Hands
Along with Sight-reading and playing by ear, playing with both hands is what will take you to the next level of piano learning. Once you have begun to feel confident playing using either hand separately, you must always (nearly always) practice to play a piano using both hands, in equal measure. Both your hands must be fluent on the keyboard while going up or down. Do not try to use them separately. Do not worry if while using both hands, you skip or miss a note in the harmony. Go on to the next one. After a little practice, you will be able to pick out the melody using your ears, and your hands will learn to play in accordance without having to so much as glance at the notes lying in front of you. Key to developing mastery in playing with both hands is practicing playing by ear and by sight reading new music.
Finally, after getting accustomed with all the major to-dos and know-hows of piano playing, you must learn to be able to enjoy your performance on a piano. Playing a piano is no easy feat to achieve, and while learning its basics, it is very easy to get overwhelmed and bored with the process. You need to keep your mind fresh, so that it is able to endure the long hours of piano practice. Make sure that you shut off all the stress and worries when you are sitting at a piano, you don’t need tensed fingers while playing, as they simply wont be able to create music on an instrument as sensitive as a piano.