Chances are you’ve bumped into this article for two reasons. Either you’ve always desired to learn how to play the piano, or you’re here on behalf of someone else.
Regardless of why you need to know how you can learn to play the piano, the truth is that it can be a daunting task if you aren’t sure how to navigate this unique world.
This is where we come in. In this article, we’ll give you all the information you’ll need about learning how to play the piano. There are so many options available, so you’ll be able to choose the learning method that best suits your lifestyle, goals, and budget.
If you’ve been struggling to get the correct information, you’re in the right place; let’s get started.
- Available Learning Methods
- What to consider before you begin free online lessons
- Picking the Right Instrument
- Choosing Your Learning Method
- Tips to Help you Learn How to Play Piano
- Last word
Available Learning Methods
Back in the day, if you wanted to learn how to play the piano, you had to scour through the Yellow Pages to find a piano teacher. Alternatively, you could hire your local school music teacher or ask for recommendations from friends, family, and acquaintances.
Once you secured a teacher, you’d go through months of scheduled weekly lessons until you reach your goals. There are some advantages to this method of learning. For example, a teacher can catch bad playing habits early on and teach you the correct way to play. Additionally, you get a personalized learning experience that is tailored to your pace.
The Yellow Pages are now a relic of days gone by. While the traditional method of in-person piano lessons with a teacher still stands, there are so many other ways to learn piano that are more convenient to the modern individual.
Thanks to the rise of technology and the internet, learning how to play the piano is now at your fingertips. No more Yellow Pages or traveling to and from lessons.
There are online courses and live lessons that use video tools and interactive apps at your disposal. This makes learning the piano easier and more convenient. Online learning has so many incredible advantages for a beginner.
For starters, it provides constant interactive learning that can speed up your learning process. It’s especially great for teaching children who lack the necessary attention span to learn using traditional methods. Additionally, because of the option to replay the lesson, you don’t have to wait for the next lesson to practice the areas you struggle with.
While online learning lessons have numerous advantages, there are some significant drawbacks to this method. Firstly, you don’t have access to personalized feedback. If you’ve got bad posture or listening skills, it can be hard for you to know what you’re doing wrong.
Secondly, some free online piano lessons lack lesson structure and have very little emphasis on music theory. You won’t learn how to read music properly from this approach, which diminishes your artistry, especially if you want to play professionally. Moreover, there is no lesson progression, so you aren’t able to gauge your playing level.
So while online lessons make learning how to play piano more convenient and interesting, piano experts would argue that the traditional in-person one-on-one lessons are the best. That said, not everyone wants to take that direction. Many online classes do offer more structure and theory.
Ultimately the choice is yours. You’ll need to find the best way for you to learn how to play the piano.
What to consider before you begin free online lessons
Assess what you need
Before you start frantically searching for the first online piano platform or the best piano teacher, there are certain factors that you need to think about.
Picking a piano learning method that works best for your lifestyle is critical if you want to succeed. The best way to approach this is to concentrate on what you want to achieve and the goals you have.
The following questions are what you need to ask yourself;
- At what pace do you want to learn?
- Do you have enough discipline to commit to online lessons?
- Do you have the time to travel to and from a teacher’s studio?
- What kind of lesson plan works best for you?
These questions will help you to pinpoint the most suitable style of learning for you.
Figure out the type of music you want to play
When we talk about piano lessons, most people’s minds jump to images of classical music concerts. Learning to play classical music can be challenging, particularly for beginners and young children.
The music itself is complex, requiring lots of practice time. Still, once you master it, you’ll be setting yourself up for success as a professional player. But there are so many other types of music you can play if classical music is not your cup of tea.
It’s best to start your piano learning journey with a genre of music you enjoy. This will help you understand your lessons better and remember what you’ve been taught. So instead of dreading the idea of spending long and boring hours seated by a piano, you’ll actually enjoy your time.
So first, figure out what type of music you like, stick to it until you’re confident, and then perhaps you can explore other genres.
Consider the level of music knowledge you have
If you’re starting from the very beginning, you need to learn fundamentals. Additionally, you need to think about the kind of feedback you need from your chosen lesson path. If you have some piano theory knowledge, then the sort of lesson you can opt for will be slightly different from a complete beginner. Although you might require a refresher lesson.
Lastly, you have to think about how much time you need to spend training your ears. Listening skills are crucial when learning how to play the piano correctly. A great pianist can actively listen to the sounds being produced by the piano. It’s vital to find a method that teaches you this skill, especially if you’re planning on learning online.
Examine what each online platform brings
Let’s say you choose to learn how to play piano online. In that case, there are several things you need to look for. Specifically, you need to assess the following:
1. Free vs. paid lessons
When we compare the two, paid lessons are better for several reasons. Firstly, they are more structured than free lessons, which tend to have no lesson progression and are all over the place.
Free lessons with no structure make it hard to track your progress, especially since you’ll have no idea where you started. On the other hand, paid online classes come with teacher support, and you have access to more content.
Lastly, most free lessons lack certain key aspects in their teaching. The focus of some online videos is on showing you how to play a specific song without any theory attached to it. While this might be great for extra practice, it’s certainly not the best way to learn if you want to play well.
2. Platform Features
You need to look at the built-in features the platform offers. Be on the lookout for the content you have access to. An excellent online platform will provide sheet music, music theory lessons, discussions, one-on-one support, and feedback from the teacher. A significant feature you should not overlook is how well integrated the platform is to apps, gadgets, and digital pianos.
Additionally, a great online platform will have an extensive song catalog that allows you to play diverse styles, genres, and tempos. Lastly, the platform must be user-friendly enough for a beginner.
At the end of the day, the process to find a great online platform to learn how to play the piano will be trial-and-error. It is always essential to assess your piano goals before you commit to taking any lessons. The most important thing when choosing an online piano lesson is to factor in your lifestyle.
There is no point in over-committing if it’s going to make your life difficult. If you struggle with self-motivation, then an online course might not be the best fit for you. You could benefit more from a more structured approach, whether it is an in-person one-on-one lesson or an online one.
What you need to think about when looking for a piano teacher
So we’ve talked about the advantages of using the traditional method of learning piano, but what are the pitfalls you need to avoid when choosing a piano teacher? Before you invest your time and money in looking for a piano teacher, here are a few things you need to consider:
- Price: Can you afford to pay for piano lessons continuously? Ensure that you look for a teacher within your budget so that your progress is not stalled because you can no longer afford to pay for lessons.
- The studio policy: Life gets in the way, and sometimes you might miss a lesson or two. Make sure that you understand their attendance expectations.
- Their love for teaching: You can always tell when someone is genuine, and you need to choose a teacher who has a passion for music. Their enthusiasm will surely rub off on you.
- Their ability to teach: It’s one thing to love teaching music. It’s another to be good at it. Consider doing some research on your chosen teacher so that you can have some valuable insight into their abilities.
- Their practice policy: Getting a teacher who understands your need to balance your life and your lessons is essential. If the expectations are unrealistic, look for an alternative to avoid setting yourself up for failure.
Choosing the right teacher significantly impacts how well your lessons go. Don’t just zone in on one person, instead have a few alternatives that you carefully evaluate.
Picking the Right Instrument
Once you’ve assessed all the above factors, the next step you need to take is to choose the right instrument. And yes, not all pianos are the same, and the type of piano you pick depends on your preference and budget. Generally, there are two types of pianos; acoustic and digital.
Acoustic pianos are what most people envision when they think about learning how to play the piano. They are the traditional pianos that you’ll find professionals and experts using for practice and concerts. You can get an acoustic grand piano or an acoustic upright piano (which tends to be a bit more affordable).
Acoustic pianos offer fuller control of the sound, a real mechanical action when you press the keys and give off a rich tone with each note. When you play, you’re likely to feel tiny vibrations and echoes of sound that are hard to replicate on any other type of piano. This “acoustic” sound is created using mechanical parts, so there are no electronics, sampling, or loudspeakers involved.
The only drawback is that they are pretty expensive and not portable at all. And expect to fork out a lot more money on maintaining the piano. Why? Because all the small parts react to environmental changes such as moisture levels or temperature. This means you’ll need to tune your piano regularly.
To avoid frequent maintenance, you’ll need to pay attention to where you place your acoustic piano. It can’t be anywhere near any damp conditions or near a radiator where it can dry out and warp.
We can divide these types of pianos into two categories; digital keyboards and digital pianos.
Digital keyboards are the least expensive of the piano instruments, and there is a reason for it. They don’t offer much in terms of sound quality and key action compared to high-end digital pianos and acoustic pianos.
Nevertheless, they are a good option, especially if you’re unsure whether your piano playing itch is long-term. There’s no point in investing thousands of dollars buying an acoustic grand piano only for it to sit there unused for months. It won’t be fair to the instrument and to your pocket.
Digital pianos, on the other hand, offer the benefit of a grand or upright acoustic piano sound but with the added advantage of portability and relative affordability. Depending on your budget, you can score a pretty good quality digital piano that is low maintenance, has excellent sound, and has some pretty nifty features.
Another bonus of buying a digital piano is the integration feature. Most digital pianos come with extra accessories like headphone jacks so you can practice in private. They also feature great connectivity options that enable you to integrate the piano with your computer, mobile device, or any other electronic gadget.
In fact, nowadays, most digital pianos can be connected to various online platforms and apps that will make your learning process more manageable.
Of course, if you’ve got the money and would like to practice the traditional way, then an acoustic piano is a great option. However, going digital has so many benefits for you if you’re a beginner. The great news is that your path to becoming a world-class piano player will not be hindered by choosing a good-quality digital piano.
Choosing Your Learning Method
We’ve talked briefly about the various methods you can use to learn how to play the piano. However, since this is the purpose of this article, we need to go a little bit deeper in explaining the options you have at your disposal.
Remember, there is NO one way to learn how to play the piano. The unique factors in your life are the guiding principles you should use to determine how you learn. So let’s take an in-depth look at the pathways we’ve mentioned.
Yes, you can choose to teach yourself how to play the piano. It will require a certain level of commitment and discipline that most will find challenging. A bonus of self-teaching is that it removes the middle-man, and it is by far the cheapest option. However, if you’re confident in your ability to learn by yourself, then we have a few tips that will make your journey easy.
- Follow Standard Piano Teaching Curriculum
There are tonnes of reliable teaching curriculums available. There are many books you can pick that will teach you the fundamentals. Famous beginner books such as Bastien Piano Basics by Kjos and the Faber and Faber Piano Adventures series are great tools.
They will teach you the basics like sitting correctly on the piano, the correct position for your hands and arms. Many piano instructors have used these books to successfully train students for many generations. So you can trust that you’re getting the best of the best.
These standard curriculums follow a certain structure of teaching that is easy to follow. For example, you’ll likely find that the first book in the series will be a beginner-level book, followed by a Level 1, then 2, and so on. Each level will have multiple books such as lesson books, theory books, and so forth designed to help you get the best comprehensive knowledge.
So from the get-go, you are learning everything you should, from finger placement and posture to reading sheet music and notes. You can find these books on Amazon, eBay, or in several physical music shops.
This method can easily compensate for the absence of a teacher. Still, you will need to be extremely diligent in how you approach your learning. If you don’t understand something, it’s best to seek answers before moving on to the next chapter.
- Focusing on Music Theory
This might be a challenging method to DIY because it relies on you understanding music theory. If you have no clue about what music theory entails, we would not advise using this method because it can get frustrating pretty quickly.
So what do we mean by music theory? In essence, music theory describes the written side of music that musicians use to understand and communicate the music language. It examines the fundamentals of music and provides a system to interpret musical creations.
For example, music theory at its core seeks to define the elements that makeup rhythm, tempo, chodes, key signatures, scales, descriptive words, phrases, and so on. Music theory also examines pitch, tone, dynamic, texture, and timbre, among other musical qualities.
This method allows you to attempt a “play by ear” learning process that helps you produce sounds and songs to know why you’re playing and what you’re playing. However, it does not teach you anything about posture, hand placement, or how to press the keys.
As you can see, this requires you to have the ability to understand these complex factors without assistance. For a beginner, this might be a tall order.
- Playing by ear
This is by far the cheapest option if you’re set on self-teaching. You don’t pay for a teacher, and you buy no books. It’s just you, Google, and your piano. To play by ear, you need to have excellent listening skills. It requires a great deal of patience because you’ll have to repeat the musical piece repeatedly to get it.
This method is excellent if your learning goals are just to have fun and learn a few cool songs. If you have no interest in learning proper techniques, then playing by ear is a great option.
The bottom line is self-teaching is great if you have what it takes to push through the first two methods. But you are at a disadvantage because of the lack of feedback and accountability.
We’ve discussed the things you need to look for when considering using online platforms. Below we’ve identified some of the best online platforms and apps you can use.
- Top 10 Classical Piano Pieces for Beginners by Udemy
Udemy is an incredible online platform that offers several free piano lessons. Dan Hegelund, an expert musician, composer, producer, and vocal coach, teaches this specific course. He has played all over the world and has several compositions available for purchase online.
He designed this course to cater to the students who have an interest in classical music. It is a superb choice for beginners because you get to learn the proper techniques. It also includes a beginner-level lesson on reading and understanding the chords, scales, clefs, and notes.
The course is taught for a total of 12 weeks and requires 4-5 hours a week. As stated before, the foundational lessons begin with information about notes and other piano basics. After this, you will learn classical compositions like Minuet in C, Allegro, and many others.
The teaching style comprises video lessons, several resources you can download for practice, a Q& A, some discussions, and a certificate upon completion.
- Introduction To Piano For Beginners by Skillshare
Skillshare is an awesome online resource with some of the best free piano lessons. If you are not too keen on learning how to read music, this course is perfect. It comes as a 2-month free trial which you can opt-out of after the trial period.
The course overlooks reading sheet music and uses an alternative ‘shapes’ method of learning. It jumps right into the techniques of playing piano and has several resources for you.
The instructor is Simon Glenister, a professional musician and music teacher with over 20 years of experience. He focuses on this easy method to teach piano to individuals who struggle with learning from sheet music.
The course begins with a 1 ½ hour lesson for beginners. The lesson topics range from understanding chords to strengthening left-hand techniques. At the end of the lesson, Simon gives you several compositions to practice.
The class comes with extra resources that you can download. It also includes class projects and group discussions so you can bounce off ideas with thousands of your classmates.
- Online piano lessons that really work by Flowkey
This app (iOS / android) is linked to and recommended by Yamaha. It is a very interactive way to learn piano. The advanced technology makes it relatively easy to learn some of your favorite tunes. You’ll get immediate feedback and access to certain features, such as finger placement guidance.
There are 10 beginner-level lessons that you can explore at your own pace. The topics range from the right and left hand playing to chords and reading sheet music. If you have a Yamaha digital piano, then this app will be the perfect supplementary companion for your musical journey.
Flowkey is a top-rated app that has been downloaded millions of times. The website includes helpful tools that you can use to advance your skills.
- Perfect Ear
If you want to sharpen your aural skills, then this app (iOS / android) is a superb choice. Perfect Ear is designed to help you develop your listening skills and your internal sense of rhythm. Both are essential skills if you want to become a professional piano player.
The app features exercises such as:
- Identifying intervals
- Rhythm clapping
- Rhythm imitation
- Chord and scale identification
- Solfege exercises
The app has access to your device’s microphone and listens in while you play. It records your sessions and keeps track of where you need to practice more. This app is an excellent addition to your musical resources because most online lessons ignore this aspect of playing.
You can download Perfect Ear on both iOS and Android.
You know by now that learning piano using traditional methods is by far the best way to do so if you want to play professionally at some point. You will have to invest a lot of time and money, but the accountability and feedback will be worth it. So let’s check out some of the options you have.
- Hiring a Private Instructor
If you can afford it, hiring a private instructor will offer you accountability and personalized feedback. A skilled private instructor will give you the necessary attention to develop your playing abilities, especially if you’re planning on playing professionally.
So how do you go about it?
Depending on where you live, there are many online music teacher-finding tools where you can locate a local instructor near your home. These tools will give you all the contact information you need to begin your search for a private music teacher.
You can also check out other online resources like TakeLessons.com, which gives in-depth information about any local piano teachers in your area. Another great approach is to use recommendations from colleagues, friends, or neighbors.
So what are the advantages of a private instructor? We’ve already spoken about a few of the benefits briefly before, so let’s discuss them in detail.
First, while it’s highly likely that you’ll use some of the standard curriculums we’ve spoken about, a private instructor will tailor the lessons to meet your pace of learning and goals. Secondly, a private teacher will offer you feedback and answer any questions you might have.
Private instructors will also teach you the proper playing habits and immediately correct you when you’re wrong. Additionally, you get access to exclusive practice and performance opportunities like public recitals. This will enhance your playing skills.
Like we’ve mentioned, the only disadvantage is that it will cost you money which you’ll need to invest over a long period. Paying your teacher isn’t the only cost you’ll need to factor in. For example, you need to purchase books and pay admin costs if your instructor uses a studio.
Also, depending on the kind of arrangement you have with your instructor, you will need to pay for your teacher’s travel expenses or your traveling costs if you’re the one going to them.
- Joining a Local Music School
There might be a music school or education center near you. This option is more or less like hiring a private instructor. You will follow a standard curriculum and a structured lesson plan that offers individual accountability, feedback, insights on music theory, musicality, and posture.
The only difference that music schools have over hiring your own private instructor is that you’ll have access to a wider range of diverse resources. For example, you can participate in local recitals and group learning.
Remember, not all music schools are created equal, so ensure that you do extensive research on the quality of educators you’ll have access to. So a few questions you may ask include:
- How do they choose and screen the quality of their teachers?
- Are they board-certified?
- Do you have access to their bios or public resumes?
Be aware that high-quality music schools may cost more than hiring a private instructor on your own. This is because the cost of running the school will be passed on to you, so the costs of managing the facility, paying teachers, and general administration will be included in the total price.
Tips to Help you Learn How to Play Piano
So now that you know what to consider before choosing a playing method, the right instrument to choose, and the learning methods at your disposal, let’s give you a few extra tips to help you in your journey.
At first, it might feel awkward, and your fingers might be clumsy at the beginning. It’s expected that you’ll have some trouble controlling your fingers. Building dexterity will take some time, and the only way to get your fingers under control is to practice scales.
Scales are defined as a ladder of eight notes that go up and down. Scales are helpful when trying to build finger strength. Start by learning the pattern on each hand separately, and then practice using your hands simultaneously.
How long will it take to build dexterity? This is entirely dependent on you. If you practice a minimum of 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, you’ll likely have finger control within a few weeks.
Learn what each hand does separately
If you’re learning a new song that uses both hands, the best approach is to understand the notes separately on each hand. If each hand knows what it’s supposed to do in the song, you’ll likely master the music quicker.
Once you’ve mastered each part separately, the hardest part is putting the hands together. This might take some time, so you’ll have to take it slow at the beginning. This brings us to our next point.
Tackle the complex parts first
A great tip to follow is to start your practice session with the hard part of the piece you’re learning. That way, you can give it your full attention and get it right before you get tired. This is a more productive approach to your learning, and you’ll find it easier to master difficult songs.
Slow and steady does the trick, it may seem counterintuitive, but slow practice will get the best results. Going too fast may overshadow any mistakes you might be making, so try as much as possible to slow down and learn the piece bit by bit. Once you’ve run through it at a slow pace without any errors, you can then try to increase the tempo.
Don’t always start at the beginning of a song
Starting at the beginning of a song is standard practice, but it might not always be the best way to learn how to play the piano. Like we mentioned before, starting with the hard parts can be extremely beneficial.
Focusing on the beginning of the song will always be easier. Still, you might have a hard time nailing the middle or the end of the song because you’re constantly tired by the time you get to those parts. Try to switch it up a little you’ll likely end up playing the song all the way through with no difficulty.
Invest time to practice
Mastering the piano at any level requires commitment. The more you invest your time in practice, the faster you’ll learn and progress. If you struggle with time, have a set schedule that fits in with your lifestyle.
There is no doubt that you’ll struggle at times, mainly when the novelty wears off. But this is when you need to stick with it. Learning how to play the piano is a lot of hard work, and there might be times when you feel stuck or think you might not be getting better.
Pushing past these moments is what separates great piano players from average ones. There are plenty of online platforms and support groups that you can join to air out your frustrations or discuss your challenges and accomplishments.
If your last practice session didn’t go so well, you could chop up your next session into five-minute lessons. This will go a long way in improving your confidence. You can also set up a reward system for every practice session you stick to. In summary, do what you get to get those sessions in.
You’ve made it to the end of this article; Congratulations! We hope you’ve acquired all the information you will need to learn how to play the piano.
This article talked about the things you need to consider before you start your musical journey. To recap, we identified that your lifestyle and personal goals determine the type of learning method you pick.
We also touched on choosing the right instrument and had an in-depth discussion about the learning paths you can choose. Self-teaching, online platforms, and traditional methods all have their pros and cons. What you decide again depends on your unique circumstances.
There are so many options available for you, and we hope that we’ve given you the best comprehensive guideline. Now it’s time to do the work, assess your personal circumstances, interests, goals, and resources, and start your journey towards learning how to play the piano.