What Are the Steps to Learning the Piano?

PianoLearning to play an instrument can bring so much joy into your life. And the great thing about music is you’re never too old to start! If you’ve always wanted to learn how to play the piano, but aren’t sure where to begin, read on. We’ll explore the first steps to learning piano, from whether you should rent or buy your first instrument to how to find a great teacher!

Setting Clear Goals

The very first step is to determine and set some goals. Understanding and setting realistic goals is the key. Many students, both children and adults, expect far too much from themselves and this can lead to frustration. Be realistic and understand that a steady, slow start will pay off with huge dividends over the long term. Take your time and ask yourself:

  • What kind of music do you like? Are you open to exploring various genres?

Many teachers are classically oriented, while others will specialize in a particular genre, such as jazz, pop, or rock. While it is possible to teach yourself, it’s best to work with a private teacher in the beginning of your studies – especially if you don’t have a musical background. By narrowing your focus, you can find a teacher that is specialized in the area of music that interests you.

The Internet has made it easier than ever to find qualified teachers – TakeLessons, for example, offers a helpful search tool to find safe, qualified teachers in your town for either in-person or live, online lessons.

  • Determine a realistic goal for six months to a year down the road.

Once you’ve decided on a direction for your studies, think about where you’d like to be a year down the road. Choose a piece of music that you’d like to be able to play, such as a simple Bach Minuet, or your favorite jazz or pop song. If you’re having trouble setting this goal, your piano teacher can help you with realistic suggestions based on their teaching experience.

Remember, the beginning stages of learning proper technique can take time. Be realistic and start slowly, but have a long-range goal to work toward. This will motivate you to take the time and put in the practice necessary to achieve it!

Rent or Buy? Keyboard or Piano?

One of the most important steps to learning piano is having an instrument to practice with.  Is it necessary to invest in an acoustic piano or will an electronic piano or keyboard work? Should you rent an instrument or buy one? It all comes down to your level of commitment.

Purchasing a full piano can be a big investment, both in terms of cost and the space needed in your home. While many teachers may recommend owning an acoustic instrument, it may not be a realistic option for you – and that’s perfectly fine. Today, there are many high quality electronic keyboards and pianos available at a very reasonable cost.

Whether you’re considering purchasing or renting the instrument, the most important step to take is to try it before you buy it. Go to your local piano shop or music store, and spend an afternoon trying out various instruments. You will be spending a considerable amount of time practicing, so you’ll want to make sure you are comfortable with the instrument’s action and tone.  Ask yourself a few key questions:

  • What is your price range? – Pianos can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000, with many high-end brands costing significantly more. Keyboards are much less expensive, but a quality model can cost upwards of $200 and up to $1,000 depending on the extra functions offered.
  • Do you live in an apartment, or with other family members? Is noise an issue? –  If the answer to either of these questions is yes, you may want to consider an electronic piano or keyboard. Most electronic instruments feature a headphone jack that will allow you to practice any time of the day or night without bothering other people in your household. This is great if you have neighbors, or can only practice early mornings or late nights.
  • Can you afford the upkeep necessary for owning a piano? – Pianos need to be tuned at minimum twice a year. Depending on where you live and the condition of the piano (used pianos can require much more upkeep), this may cost around $100 per tuning. Keep this in mind when making your decision.

Most professional pianists argue that nothing beats the sound and feel of an acoustic piano. While electronic instruments offer many advantages, they will never exactly offer the sound and feel of an acoustic instrument. However, ultimately it comes down to personal preference, budget and space considerations. Just remember to try before you buy!

What is the Best Way to Learn?

Another one of the most important steps to learning piano is to decide the best method for you.  While the Internet has made learning an instrument a bit easier by offering online tutorials and videos, the most efficient method for learning is working with a private piano instructor, at least in the beginning stages.

Why? When first learning to play an instrument it’s important to approach it with a strong foundation. Improper technique and bad habits can be much more difficult to “unlearn.” A good teacher will offer you a strong foundation in proper technique. Learning to play correctly will keep you on a positive path and can also prevent repetitive stress injuries such as tendonitis.

A good teacher will also gear your lessons to your ability level, while simultaneously pushing you outside of your comfort zone. Learning to play piano should be a fun and rewarding experience, and a good teacher will help you to stay motivated and challenged.

To find a great teacher, TakeLessons offer extensive resources and listings of qualified piano teachers from all over the country.  If you can’t get to your teacher, many students opt for online lessons, allowing you the same one-on-one guidance, but from the comfort of your own home.

There are many steps to learning the piano. Outlining your goals, getting your instrument, and finding a teacher are three of the first steps to take.  Be realistic in your expectations, and remember that one of the most important steps for learning the piano is… just get started! Learning to play the piano or any other instrument will offer you a lifetime of rewards and joy. So, what are you waiting for?

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Photo by ms.akr

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