Learning the piano is an exciting journey you are bound to enjoy, no matter what age you begin learning the instrument. The adventure that comes along with every challenge you give yourself is something to look forward to.
While all this is true, it is also very easy to see little or no progress in your piano learning, and this can be quite frustrating. So why the failure?
Many piano students find themselves stuck in a rut and end up getting discouraged, often resigning the learning of the instrument to “other talented people”. In this post, we will dig into some of the often overlooked areas that hinder progress in learning the piano and what you need to do instead.
The tactic of thinking first
More often than not, piano learners do not consider this as something of primary importance. It is common to see a piano player just hit notes and hope they got it right. This really doesn’t help you master the notes. It ends up as more of a trial and error experiment. It is like leaping before you look. What do you think will happen? Here are insights from Albert Frantz:
How many times have we all heard “Think before you speak!” while growing up? This rule holds equally for piano playing: Think before you play. Thinking before playing is about achieving clarity. It means creating mental certainty before so much as moving a finger. It involves anticipating the next notes by hearing them in your mind first. Only then, at the very moment you play them, should you touch the keys, always shaping the hands first. Via Key Notes
The discipline of ear training
Ear training is very important in learning any instrument since it will help you know the correct sound of the piece you’re playing. Failure to do this will end up in quite some unpleasing music. Ear training is priceless and should guide your playing so that you don’t end up learning mistakes instead.
One of the essentials of ear training is that we should play because we hear, not hear because we play. This means hearing in our mind’s ear first, and only then playing. Our knowledge of right or wrong notes should not come after we’ve already made a mistake—it should be decided with absolute certainty in advance of touching the keys. Via Key Notes
“Slow but sure” during practice
Another common pitfall that piano students fall into, is playing really fast. It is understood that there is always the desire to play a song in its original time and that is a great achievement. However, during practice, there is no need to rush. Take your time. If you are going to think before playing, you need to take your time and master what you’re playing instead of competing with time.
The only solution is slow, highly focused practice. The value of slow practice is that it gives us time to think each note in advance of playing it. I find that even when I tell students to play slowly, they still play at nearly performance tempo. I have to insist multiple times that they slow down, and they almost never slow down enough. It is only when they play with the metronome that they realize just how fast they have been playing. Via Key Notes
Closely related to taking time during practice is to understand that mastering the piano will require that you keep at it over a period of time. It isn’t an “instant” achievement. It is easy to want to get everything “super-fast” and become a pro. The truth, however, is that it takes time.
Most prominent musicians will tell you that they started in their childhood, or have been mastering their instrument for years. Be patient with yourself and let yourself go through the process.
Underlying this tendency is impatience. While every music student understands that learning music is inherently a long-term task, the vast majority only lengthen the time they need to learn a piece through their very effort to reduce it. Via Key Notes
It is a common thing to see inventions coming up to reduce the amount of effort that is required in doing any activity. That’s what machines are for. However, you cannot afford to miss out on exercising your mental faculties when learning the piano. You need to ensure that you fully concentrate whenever you are mastering any piece.
At the heart of all learning is concentration. Most music students try to avoid mental exertion at all costs, yet this is precisely what is needed most! I see piano students move their fingers without first thinking of each note, each corresponding key and each hand movement. There are no arbitrary movements in proper piano playing. Every movement is properly the result of a conscious decision made for a musical purpose. Via Key Notes
Take these insights into consideration and you will be on your way to the much-needed progress that you’ve been looking forward to!
Featured Image: Image Credit
— fishyy (@lyuublue) September 22, 2016
When I was little I only took piano lessons so I could learn the theme song from Beverly hill cop.
— peteachu (@petewentz) September 21, 2016
The Alexander Technique, and how I am learning to play the piano without pain
It’s been an interesting time, these past months. Actually, let me think – how long has it been? I think I had my last piano lesson sometime in October, so that’s nine months ago! My right arm had started to ache like crazy in June last year, mostly when I played the piano, but also using my computer. The strength had gone from my hands, and I had real trouble getting comfortable in bed, let alone falling and remaining asleep, without my arm aching and tingling from the shoulder down to my fingers. I’d toss and turn, trying to find a good position so I could sleep, and often I’d be woken throughout the night by the pain and discomfort. Via Musically Speaking
How to take the headache out of learning to play piano
Do you get a headache just thinking about piano lessons?
Does learning to play piano sound like a difficult task?
For many, it is certainly a challenge. Consider this
1. 80% of those that try to learn piano give up within the first 2 years.
2. Piano lessons can be expensive.
3. Music theory and reading music notation is hard.
4. Time constraints get in the way.
5. My kids would rather play video games. Via Piano Wizard Academy
How to Recognize Piano Chords
The “Chord of the Day” (posted on our facebook page) has turned out to be a really popular challenge among our fans as it requires you to understand how to recognize piano chords that may not be strikingly obvious.
One of the recent posts featured this chord:
Some of the guesses were:
-B minor 6
-B minor #5
-B minor b13
-Ab minor 7 b5 (with added “Ab” bass note)
-G major 7 Via Hear and Play