A short while ago, an accomplished self-taught piano player messaged me asking if he could share some of his knowledge. I was delighted to help him share his tips and hope that his advice can support you on your journey.
Piano player or otherwise, Rohit’s advice below is transferable to any study on any instrument learning any where in the world who wants to take the next step on their musical education.
Happy practice! -nat 🙂
Is Learning Piano by yourself a Good Idea?
I am writing this article today because I learnt piano all by myself. And trust me, it was a rough ride.
I made tons of mistakes. For months, I knew nothing about technique. I just played the keys the way it felt comfortable to me. Though this may sound cool and awesome, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone to do what I did. And I don’t mean that you shouldn’t learn piano by yourself, but you should follow a structured learning method.
Go step by step. And If you have that enthusiasm in yourself to learn piano, then you can definitely learn that all by yourself. All you need is strong will power.
Solo Learning vs. Assisted Learning
Today, multiple options have come up, where a person does not need a teacher to learn anything new. Same is the case with Piano as well. There are so many online lessons, books, and much more that teach you Piano with minute details.
And by this, we do not discourage getting a Piano teacher. They are of course the best way to learn. Reasons?
- You get timely lessons.
- Teacher can judge where you are going wrong, which you cannot tell by yourself.
- He will be able to give you a pre-planned schedule to follow.
- You will feel more responsible towards learning.
- You will jump to songs only when you will have a clear understanding of basics.
These are few and important benefits of getting lessons from teacher. But now, you will say if these are the advantages, why not go with teacher only? This would also mean that you can’t learn the instrument by yourself, right?
Having a Teacher for Piano can be a Luxury in some countries. I was brought up in a Part of India, where nobody in a 30 Kilometre radius even owned a Piano. The teachers available would only teach Harmonium, and I was told that the skills are transferable. I respect every instrument, however my obsession with Piano led me to learn it all by myself using any resources I could find.
So the whole point of this article is to encourage people to learn piano who can not afford to hire a teacher, or do not have good music schools in their area.
I definitely can not teach you Piano in one blog post, but I can definitely guide you in the right direction. One of the most common mistakes which self-learners do is that they do not form a schedule. Having a schedule and keeping track of what you have learned is very important. So let me share with you a 6 Week Schedule which will set you on the right path to learning piano.
A 6-Week Practice Program
Whenever you decide to learn and play this amazing instrument, I’d advise you to follow this chapter-based guide to learning. In my experience, you cannot just skip the lessons (or concepts) as you please, and directly jump to the songs.
I know learning songs is a lot more fun on the piano, but you won’t be able to remember that for long if you have no clue about the basics of music theory. So whilst the notes are important, this will help you grow your knowledge and move onto the next step. Then once you know the basics, you will be able to play any song in the world on your own – isn’t that cool?
Here I am including a step by step guide, which will help you in planning your lessons according to your own time schedules. But you would definitely have to take out time for this.
I have also written an “In-depth Guide to Learn Piano Yourself” which you can check out to learn more about this amazing instrument.
Week 1) Start with technical exercises. (Notes and Finger numbers)
These exercises include fingering, technique, note reading and rhythm. Each finger is given a number in Piano. And this teaches you which note should be played by which finger. You need to practice playing the notes with the corresponding fingers only. Practice this until you can sub consciously pull out a finger for each note, without having to count on your hand.
Week 2) Note Reading
Memorise each note on the keyboard (C, D, E, F, G, A, B). Now practice various note reading exercises that you can find on the internet. Try “Playing a step, skip a step” for each note.
Week 3) Scales Practice
Now when you have memorised which key lies where, and which finger to use in order to play that key, let’s move to our next step – scales. Scales practice would take up around 1 week, to get familiarised with each scale on keyboard (including all major and minor scales). Don’t forget to keep in mind the right fingers to press the key.
Refer to this Article to learn about all the different Piano Scales.
Week 4) & 5) Chords
Let’s move on to chords now. Learn about all the varieties of chords we have in Piano. Keep practising them on repeat, until you can memorise each chord by heart. This is the most strenuous exercise. Hence, you would need a lot of patience, as well as time.
Refer to this article to learn a lot more about piano chords and how they work.
Week 6) Put all the practice together
Now, take up each scale individually, and find out all the chords of that scale. In this way, practice each scale and respective chords repeatedly. Once you are done with all this practice, you are now good to go.
By now, you would have learned which key makes what kind of sound, and which chords to play for which kind of music. Now this alone will not make you an expert – 6 Weeks is not enough to master piano. But you have solid foundation of all the basics of music theory and how the instrument works. Now all you need is a lot of practice.
Keep practising and start playing some songs too. I would recommend Rolling in the Deep to be your first song. Good luck!