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What Piano Pedals Do + How to Use Them to Sound Like a Pro

What do the pedals on a piano do

Piano pedals are levers which alter the sound of the piano in a variety of different ways. The three types of pedals most pianos have are, from right to left: a sustain pedal, a sostenuto pedal, and a soft pedal.

Note: Some digital keyboards may only have one – the sustain pedal – which you can plug into the keyboard.

As you get more comfortable at the piano, you may start to wonder about these three pedals at the bottom. What do the pedals on a piano do? You’ll find the answers in this complete guide. We’ll go over each pedal’s effects, how to use them correctly, and how to recognize them in your sheet music.

What do the Pedals on a Piano do? 

The Sustain Pedal

piano pedals

The most commonly used out of all the piano pedals is the sustain (or damper) pedal. This pedal is the farthest right, and the right foot depresses it. The sustain pedals allows pianists to extend the sound of a note far longer than they could by simply pressing the key.

This allows pianists to hold notes for as long as indicated in the music, or as long as they feel appropriate. Some notes will have a fermata marking, which means to hold the note past the amount of time its value indicates.

One common usage for the sustain pedal is to hold long chords that are serving as an accompaniment to the melody. The other use of this pedal is to play with a “legato articulation.” This means connecting smoothly one note to the next, without any break in between the sounds.

One of its names is the “damper” pedal because it works by lifting the dampers off the strings so that the strings keep vibrating. What typically happens when a key is released from being pushed down is that the felt of the dampers stop the movement of the string.

For this reason, the sustain pedal provides an added richness to the sound through sympathetic vibration. In other words, the other strings (not in use) also vibrate along with the ones that are in use.

The Sustain Pedal in Sheet Music

Some music notates the exact places where you should depress and release the sustain pedal. It can also be up to you to decide when and how to use it, so its use won’t always be notated in your music.

The most common notation you’ll see is a symbol underneath the grand staff of the music. The symbol shows when to depress it (whether multiple times, or a single time), and when to release it.

Below is an example of what a pedaling symbol could look like. 

what do the pedals on a piano do (2)

In this example, the initial line indicates the start of the pedaling. The carrot in the middle indicates a quick release and re-depression of the pedal, and the final line indicates a complete release of the pedal.

Keep in mind that this symbol can be much longer in sheet music. It can even be just a single line if there is just one depression and release of the pedal. Here is another example-

piano pedals

Another way of notating the pedal in sheet music is by use of the word “Ped.” This indicates the beginning of a pedaling. A following asterisk (*) indicates the release of the pedal.

One more general way of marking pedaling is to indicate it at the beginning of the music, or section of music, with the indication “senza sordini.” This translates to “without dampers.”

How to Use the Sustain Pedal

When pedaling, it’s important to remember that the foot operates like a lever. Your heel is on the ground and the ball of your foot is depressing the pedal.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should always leave your foot resting in contact with the pedal. This way, you can easily depress the sustain pedal when needed.

When you’re resting on the pedal, you can even keep it slightly depressed already to make your pedaling more efficient. You’ll notice that doing this doesn’t cause the pedal to engage yet.

When using the pedal, you’ll want to depress it slightly before you play a note, or right as you play a note. You’ll also usually want to change the pedal right after playing a note.

This level of coordination can be complex and it requires practice. Don’t be discouraged if you find it challenging to incorporate pedaling into your playing at first!

The Sostenuto Pedal        

The middle pedal is usually a sostenuto pedal. Out of the three piano pedals, pianists use this one the least often. The sostenuto pedal offers an exciting variation on the sustain pedal.

Instead of holding down every note struck, the sostenuto pedal allows you to hold down some but not others. This is often used to sustain long bass notes while allowing for melodic and harmonic lines to continue moving.

How to Use the Sostenuto Pedal

In your sheet music, you’ll see sostenuto pedaling indicated just like normal pedaling, except with the addition of the abbreviation “Sost.” To use this pedal, first strike and hold down the notes you wish to sustain while depressing the sostenuto pedal.

Once you’ve done so, you can release the keys you depressed, but they will still be sustained. You can play any additional notes you wish, but they won’t be sustained since they were depressed after you engaged the sostenuto pedal.

It’s also possible to use the sustain pedal as you would normally while using the sostenuto pedal simultaneously. The short video below shows the difference inside the piano between the sustain pedal and the sostenuto pedal.

Other Middle Pedal Variations

Today, most grand pianos are equipped with the sostenuto pedal, while upright pianos have a practice mute pedal instead of the sostenuto pedal in the middle. 

The practice mute pedal is quite straightforward: it quiets the sound of the whole piano by inserting a layer of felt between the hammers and the strings, so the sound is still created but not as loudly. This pedal is depressed with the left foot.

On a practical note, this is useful if you want to practice but need to reduce the volume level for others around. Another useful feature of this pedal is that you can usually lock it to the left so you don’t have to hold it down during your entire practice session.

You’ll likely never see a notation for the practice mute pedal in your sheet music since it’s only used for practice.

The middle pedal isn’t used frequently and it has different possibilities depending on the type of piano. Because of this, the pedal’s usage and purpose is often misunderstood.

While the practice mute pedal and the sostenuto pedal are the two most common middle pedals, it’s also possible that the middle pedal could be a sustain pedal for only the bass notes. This is a “bass damper.”

Additionally, it could be a “silent pedal.” A silent pedal blocks the hammers from striking the strings, allowing you to hear the sound in your connected headphones only. Or, it could be a pedal with no purpose other than visual show.

The Soft Pedal

what do the pedals on a piano do

Another name for the soft pedal is the “una corda” pedal. This far-left pedal appears to simply offer a reduction in the volume of sound. However, the true intention of the pedal is to also offer a change in the color and timbre of the sound.

Due to the change in color and volume, this pedal creates a sense of mystery, introspection, or awe.

When the una corda pedal was created, it meant that the whole keyboard and its hammers shifted slightly to the right. All the hammers hit only one string rather than the two they typically hit.

With modern pianos, using the una corda pedal now means that the keyboard shifts slightly to the right. So, the hammers hit two strings instead of the typical three that are now associated with each note.

This means it’s a bit of a misnomer today since “una corda” translates to “one string.” In addition, today’s upright pianos execute una corda a little differently than grand pianos. For this reason, the correct name for the upright piano’s pedal is a “half-blow” pedal.

Due to the angle of the strings in upright pianos, the keyboard doesn’t shift when una corda is depressed. Instead, the hammers approach the strings more closely, which leads to a similar effect of lowered volume.

How to Use the Soft Pedal

Like the sostenuto pedal, your left foot depresses this pedal as well. In your sheet music, you’ll see una corda pedaling indicated with the phrases “con sordino” and “una corda.” The following symbol also indicates una corda pedaling. 

piano pedals

The phrases “senza sordino” and “tre corde” tell you to release the soft pedal. You may also see the following symbol.

piano pedals

This video nicely shows how each of the three piano pedals sound. It also demonstrates good usage of all three pedals at the end of his improvisation.

Knowing how to use the piano pedals allows you to add finesse, accuracy, and color to your playing. While it may seem straightforward, pedaling at the piano is an art. There are many techniques you can use to make pedaling flawless within the music.

As a piano student, it’s always a good idea to get feedback and advice on how to master pedaling. TakeLessons is an excellent place to find a piano instructor for private lessons, or learn piano in online classes.

Have any more questions about what the pedals on a piano do? Leave a comment and let us know!

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7 Common Chord Progressions for Every Piano Player

piano chord progressions

Chord progressions offer a view of music from a whole new perspective. Once you know some common variants, you’ll be able to create your own music, learn and sight-read written music more quickly, and have a greater understanding of music in general.

First, what are piano chord progressions? Chord progressions are simply a sequence of chords. (A chord is two or more notes played together). Chord progressions exist to develop the music in a harmonically meaningful way. Often you can hear a “harmonic story” in each chord progression which includes a beginning, middle, and end.

In order to notate and analyze chords, musicians use a system of Roman numerals. In each major key, there are seven unique chords, built off the notes of the scale. Each chord in the scale can be major, minor, diminished, or augmented.

Here are the notations for each chord in a major scale: I (major), ii (minor), iii (minor), IV (major), V (major), vi (minor), and vii° (diminished). As you can see, a capital Roman numeral indicates “major,” and a lowercase Roman numeral indicates “minor.”

7 Piano Chord Progressions Everyone Should Know

The chord progressions on the following list can be used in any of the 12 major keys. For simplicity’s sake, each chord progression below is shown both in Roman numerals and in the key of C Major, as an example. (The last progression on the list is an exception, which is in minor).

In each genre of music, there are specific chord progressions that are commonly used and well loved. Below, you’ll learn seven of the most common piano chord progressions from jazz, gospel, blues, and more!

1. The 12-bar Blues Chord Progression

This chord progression is incredibly simple because it uses just three chords – I, IV, and V – but it has infinite possibilities for melodic improvisation. When played over 12 bars, this progression becomes a “12-bar blues.”

Note: A bar of music is a way of notating a set amount of time, or a certain number of beats, in the music. In the 12-bar blues, each bar would have four beats or counts, and each chord would last one bar. This makes 12 bars in total – one for each chord.

You can experiment with improvising on top of this chord progression using the blues scale. When this chord progression is used in a blues song, it’s repeated many times throughout the song. You’ll find the 12-bar blues in songs like Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog,” BB King’s “The Thrill is Gone,” and Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock.”

Without further ado, check out the progression in C Major below. This chord progression, like all chord progressions, can be played in a variety of timings. Here, the chord progression (I-IV-I-V-I) is extended so it can last for 12 bars.

C – C – C – C – F – F – C – C – G – G – C – C

I – I – I – I – IV – IV – I – I – V – V – I – I

If you’d like, you can also practice this in other keys by transposing it. To do this, choose your key (say, G Major), and then use the sequence of Roman numerals above to create the same chord progression using the scale of G Major.

If you need more help or want to check your transposition, you can type in the chord names (i.e. C, G, F) here and they will be transposed to the key of your choice.

2. The “Cadential” Chord Progression

No piano chord progression list would be complete without this one, since it defies genre and is an essential ending progression. This is called a “cadential” chord progression in music theory, and it’s particularly common in classical, church, and gospel settings.

The ii-V-I chord progression is complete on its own, but it can also be made into the longer progression I-vi-ii-V-I. You can hear this progression in many jazz standards, including Miles Davis’ “Tune Up” and Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.”


Here’s what this progression would look like in C Major:

Dmin – G – C

ii – V – I

3. The Songwriting & All-purpose Chord Progression

This progression will likely sound familiar to you, as it’s extremely popular and has a dramatic sound – thanks to the minor vi chord. The progression lends itself very well to songwriting.

It can actually be altered by starting on any of the chords in the progression and then continuing in the same order (for example, V-vi-IV-I). Changing it in this way creates different tonal sentiments, from melancholy to drama.

Songs using this progression are numerous, including the Beatles’ “Let It Be,” the Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden,” and Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m Goin’ Down.”


Here it is in all four alterations:

C – G – Amin – F / G – Amin – F – C / Amin – F – C – G / F – C – G – Amin

I – V – vi – IV / V – vi – IV – I / vi – IV – I – V / IV – I – V – vi

4. The Classic 3-chord Progression

This is one of the most versatile piano chord progressions, yet also one of the simplest! It’s been widely used as the basis for many songs, especially in modern pop. It’s also a good one to practice improvisation, since the progression itself doesn’t take a lot of concentration.

You’ll recognize it in Richie Valen’s “La Bamba,” Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire.”


Here is the 3-chord progression in C Major, as an example:

C – F – G

I – IV – V

5. The Canon (AKA Pachelbel) Progression

This progression is named after Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major, an idyllic work that has become very well known. It is a more extended version of the previous I-IV-V progression. Like the 12-bar blues, it can be repeated many times within a single song.

The Canon progression appears in many genres, particularly pop. You’ll hear it in Aerosmith’s “Cryin’” and Blues Traveler’s “Hook.”


The progression looks like this in C Major:

C – G – Amin – Emin – F – C – F – G

I – V – vi – iii – IV – I – IV – V

6. The 50s Progression

This progression is a throwback to the 50s, although it’s still in use today. It has several different catchy names that speak to its versatility including the “Heart and Soul” chords, the “doo wop progression,” and the “ice cream changes.”

You can hear it featured in songs like Ben E. King’s hit “Stand By Me,” Green Day’s “Jesus of Suburbia,” and Bob Marley’s “Stir It Up.”


This chord progression makes the rounds in many genres, including pop, classical, reggae, and doo-wop.

C – Amin – F – G

I – vi – IV – V

7. Andalusian Cadence

Now that you know a number of basic piano chord progressions in major, here’s one that has a bit more flair thanks to its roots in Flamenco music. This progression is in minor, and it also uses chords that are lowered by a half step (♭ VII and ♭ VI).

You’ll hear the Andalusian cadence in Ace of Base’s “Cruel Summer,” Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road, Jack,” and Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.”


The Andalusian cadence looks like this in C Minor:

Cmin – B♭– A ♭– G

i – ♭ VII – ♭ VI – V

Chord progressions are fundamental to playing the piano proficiently and understanding music on a deeper level. To learn more about chord progressions and the theory behind them, piano lessons are a great solution.

A teacher can help demystify music theory, and give you personalized exercises to train your ear and fingers. Try an online piano class, or take one-on-one piano lessons with a professional instructor near you to learn more.

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The Top 20 Best Jazz Pianists of All Time [Infographic]

best jazz pianists

Narrowing down a list to just 20 of the best jazz pianists isn’t easy, as there are plenty to choose from. Creative geniuses such as Art Tatum, Count Basie, and Thelonious Monk are just a few of the names that come to mind, among many other greats in jazz’s rich history.

Although most people think of trumpeters or saxophonists when they hear the word “jazz,” the piano has played a crucial role in the development of jazz theory and performance.

Acting as both a solo and ensemble jazz instrument, the piano has important contributions to make in the areas of rhythm, harmony, and style. Some even consider it the backbone of jazz ensembles – as crucial as the double bass that outlines the harmonic figures, and the trumpet that riffs and solos on the melody.

Perhaps what’s most incredible is how jazz piano has supported the evolution of jazz over the decades, from ragtime to bebop to swing and more. If you’re ready to place your finger on the lively pulse of jazz, read on for a compilation of the greatest jazz pianists, ordered by era.

The 20 Best Jazz Pianists

1. Scott Joplin


Scott Joplin’s style represents the earliest precursor of jazz, in the form of the classic ragtime. Born around 1868 in Texas, Joplin’s works inhabit a unique space where classical music and African-American styles, such as work songs and gospels, converged.

The unique sound of ragtime, with its syncopation and joyful melodies, can’t be mistaken for anything else. Joplin’s greatest hit, “Maple Leaf Rag,” epitomizes the genre. His compositions had a classical quality to them and weren’t intended for improvisation, unlike other forms of jazz that would follow.

2. Jelly Roll Morton


A few decades after Joplin’s birth, the pianist who came to be known as “Jelly Roll Morton” was born into a family of proud Creole heritage in New Orleans. His colorful stage name was invented to mask his family name, when he took a job playing piano in a brothel.

Morton acted as a pianist, bandleader, composer, and arranger. He is firmly rooted on the map of jazz piano, thanks to his works which embrace ragtime and early jazz. While his claims to have invented jazz have never fully been proven, it’s certain that he is an important figure who left us with many spirited compositions.

3. Willie “The Lion” Smith


Willie “The Lion” Smith, born in 1897 in New York, moved jazz one more step forward, to the “stride” style – involving rapid, rhythmic alterations in the left-hand accompaniment. This style became popular in the 1920s and 30s.

Willie’s birth name was actually, William Henry Joseph Bonaparte Bertholoff Smith, chosen to represent all parts of his rich family heritage. A highly influential figure, Willie is one of the best jazz pianists of all time because of his skillful and virtuosic artistry.

4. Duke Ellington


Duke Ellington certainly pulled his weight as a bandleader, but he was much more than that. He also wore the hats of composer and pianist. Alive from 1899 to 1974, he had a prolific and lengthy career which included over 1,000 compositions.

Ellington’s career wasn’t just a solo performance. His strength originated from his use of a big band, or orchestra, which featured dedicated musicians of the highest quality. Born in Washington D.C. and passing much of his life in New York City, Ellington is widely celebrated as a quintessential American jazz musician.

5. Earl Hines


A fabulous pianist who made a mark on jazz history, Earl Hines was someone who truly captivated his listeners. Hines, born in 1903 close to Pittsburgh, had a big band with which he performed.

Yet his artistry was so strong, his piano playing alone contained everything needed for a meaningful, stylized jazz performance. He’s still recognized today as the father of modern jazz and as a huge influence on numerous famous jazz pianists.

6. Fats Waller


Only a year after Earl Hines entered the world, Fats Waller was born in 1904 in New York City. Waller’s career was full of surprises, twists, and turns. His artistry spanned many different genres including comedy, organ, and singing performances.

An entertainer at heart, his most popular works still hold a place in listeners’ hearts, with compositions like “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Honeysuckle Rose” never going out of style. Waller was a popular and well-liked artist with a sense of humor, and his music had no limits—he played jazz and Bach on the organ.

7. Count Basie


Count Basie is a classic – his style is timeless, and the sound of his piano playing at the center of a big band, unmistakable. Born the same year as Fats Waller, Count Basie is most well-known as a bandleader, but his leading was done from the piano. Thus, the two roles of pianist and bandleader are both integral to his identity.

Count Basie knew how to make a big band swing! While he made the big band sound popular, he is also known for shining a light on the rhythm section, with the piano at the centerpiece of the tight-knit group.

8. Art Tatum


Tatum heralded a new age of genius in jazz. He was ahead of his time, a devilish improviser and a technical wizard at the piano. Taking cues from his predecessors, Waller and Hines, Tatum had an especially unique life as a visually impaired musician.

He melded the styles of swing and stride, inventing creative improvisations that surpassed anything heard until then. Born in Ohio in 1909, Art Tatum went down in the history of jazz, and for good reason!

9. Thelonious Monk


Inimitable in personality and musical style, Thelonious Sphere Monk was in a class of his own. His music was and still is widely recorded. His style at the piano is highly unusual, featuring dissonances and dramatic, unexpected changes within a piece.

He was born in North Carolina in 1917 but spent most of his childhood in New York City. Monk’s legacy lives on in the form of albums and tributes, as well as an institute established in his honor, which supports jazz education in public schools.

10. Hank Jones


Hank Jones was a product of Earl Hines, Fats Waller, and Art Tatum, among other greats who influenced him. He was a versatile and admired pianist, bandleader, arranger, and composer, and his career included more than 60 albums.

He also collaborated with well-known musicians like Ella Fitzgerald and Charlie Parker. Jones was particularly known for his usage of advanced harmony, and many described his artistry as “impeccable.”

RELATED: 9 Easy Jazz Piano Songs to Learn 

11. Nat “King” Cole


Extremely popular with the public, Nat “King” Cole’s infectious melodies and vocals will never be forgotten. Expanding beyond the sphere of jazz, Nat King Cole also appeared in films and had his own television series.

While his music itself was plenty noteworthy, his life was also remarkable, as he personally experienced a high degree of racism as a black musician born in Alabama in 1919 and going on to perform in the southern states of the US.

12. Dave Brubeck


A contemporary favorite, Dave Brubeck arrived unexpectedly at the piano, after first attempting a formal course of study in zoology. Born in 1920 in California to a pianist and a cattle rancher, Brubeck went on to forge a diverse musical style, encompassing experimental techniques and out-of-the-ordinary meters, rhythms, and harmonies.

His work is perhaps best represented by his ensemble, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, which he established the same year that he suffered a debilitating surfing injury. He left behind a vast musical legacy, and four of his six children are professionally involved in music.

13. Bud Powell


Bud Powell signaled a new era in jazz piano: bebop! Known for his compositions and creative harmony, Powell followed in the footsteps of his pianist father. He also admired Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk.

Bill Evans, along with several other famous jazz pianists, would later follow in Bud Powell’s musical footsteps. Powell struggled with mental health and drug abuse, which unfortunately was not uncommon in the bebop scene of this age. Alive from 1924 to 1966, Bud Powell’s music led jazz piano in a new direction.

14. Oscar Peterson


Hailing from Canada, Oscar Peterson came from a vigorous, disciplined classical background, with the habit of four to six hours of daily practice. Soon fascinated by boogie-woogie and ragtime as an adolescent, Peterson is well-known for his diverse style, melding jazz and classical, as well as his work in small ensembles.

15. Bill Evans


Originally from New Jersey, where he was born in 1929, Bill Evans is known for his harmonic prowess at the piano, as well as his collaborations with other famous musicians like Miles Davis and Chet Baker.

A prolific musician who deeply valued his collaborators, Evans was known for his superb work in trios. His music-making involved new harmonies, unique interpretations of old standards, and masterful melodic lines. Evans’ legacy influenced many famous jazz pianists to follow.

16. Ahmad Jamal


Born in Pittsburgh in 1930, Ahmad Jamal valued his connection to the city throughout his life. His relationship with music started very early, as he found himself at the piano at the young age of three.

Jamal’s career has spanned many decades and he is best known for his innovative style of music making, called “cool jazz.” While he was inspired by bebop, his style diverges into his modern interpretation of jazz.

17. McCoy Tyner


Born in 1938 in Philadelphia, McCoy Tyner’s career was defined by his contributions to the John Coltrane quartet. He ultimately used these experiences as a jumping-off point, continuing to innovate even after leaving the quartet due to stylistic differences.

Tyner made several contributions to modern jazz piano, including his approach to chord voicing and his unique voice expressed through his melodic interpretations.

18. Herbie Hancock


Herbie Hancock is a versatile jazz musician who joined Miles Davis’ Quintet at the young age of 23. Hancock was born in 1940 in Chicago and demonstrated exceptional talent in classical piano as a child. He was fundamental in establishing another evolution in jazz history: post-bop. Hancock’s music is extremely experimental with eclectic influences.

19. Chick Corea


Chick Corea has enjoyed a long, distinguished career. Born in 1941 in Massachusetts, Corea draws on a lineage of famous jazz musicians, including Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Bud Powell.

His style evolved over the years, from avant-garde to jazz fusion to contemporary classical music. Corea is also well-respected for his musical collaborations with other artists, including contemporary Hancock.

20. Keith Jarrett


Keith Jarrett, born in 1945 in Pennsylvania, is a multidisciplinary performer, equally devoted to jazz and classical music. Found to have perfect pitch, he was extremely accomplished at the piano from a young age. His most well-known collaborations were with Art Blakey and Miles Davis.

Although this list isn’t comprehensive, each of these artists’ creativity and legacy gave them a place in the history of jazz – a music which reflects African American history, experimentation, culture, and change.

If you’re interested in honing your jazz skills, spend some time listening to songs from these jazz pianists and even try to transcribe a short riff from one of them. You can also obtain professional instruction from a piano teacher at TakeLessons, who can give you feedback and guidance on how to improve your skills, one lesson at a time!

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3 Legit Places to Find Free Piano Lessons

Free Piano Lessons

If you’re looking for free piano lessons, look no further. In this article we share three resources that will help you take your first steps from beginner to Beethoven.

No one ever says, “I wish I hadn’t learned the piano.”

With a bit of skill and practice, the piano creates beautiful music. It’s no wonder why so many revere those who play it and are eager to learn it themselves.

Although learning the piano can be quite expensive, there are several affordable and even free options available. We’ve done all the research for you below!

Where to Find Free Piano Lessons

1. TakeLessons Live

free online piano lessons

When it comes to learning a new instrument, most will agree that having a teacher is the best way to go. This can be challenging if you live in a rural area, or if you’re on a budget. TakeLessons Live is an excellent solution with free online piano lessons.

With TakeLessons Live you get a real, live teacher who can show you proper technique, correct your mistakes, and answer any questions you have “in real time.” You’re able to take classes from the comfort of your home, or while on-the-go with your laptop or mobile device. 

You can take as many classes as you want, at no cost. A few examples of class topics include how to read music, playing piano chords, and scales for beginners. These classes allow you to get a solid foundation on the piano that you can continue to build upon as you progress in your studies.

2. YouTube

Free piano lessons with Joseph Hoffman

One quick search on YouTube returns hundreds of results for piano lessons. They include everything from song tutorials to guides on hand positioning to music theory.

These free online piano lessons are a good tool for beginners since you can watch them as many times as you’d like to really master the concepts.

Here are just a few of the top piano channels that you can subscribe to on YouTube:

  • Piano TV – Allysia has hundreds of videos ranging from piano exercises to analyses of classical and pop favorites. She takes a deep dive into the music to help you become a more well-rounded pianist.  
  • Hoffman Piano Academy – Joseph Hoffman helps you make the transition from beginner to intermediate pianist with a series of curated playlists on the different skills you’ll need.
  • Pianist Magazine – Pianist Magazine features instructional videos from well known teacher-pianists. While most of the songs are classical, the concepts taught can be applied to all types of music.
  • Bill Hilton – Bill Hilton has around 200 tutorials covering everything from basic music theory to improv and various piano styles.
  • Piano Couture – Piano Couture is full of the music you know and love. Learning to play songs you’re already familiar with makes these lessons fun and easy.

These are just a few of our favorite piano channels on YouTube. With hundreds of piano channels to choose from, you’re sure to find one that is a good fit for your learning style!

Remember that as a beginner, it’s important to ensure that you’re learning the proper techniques so you don’t form bad habits later on.

One downside of YouTube lessons is that you can’t get immediate feedback on your playing. This makes YouTube a great supplement to online or in-person lessons, but it is not recommended as a substitute.

3. Local Music Stores, Studios, & More

free piano lessons

Although it can be more difficult to find, another option for free piano lessons is local music stores. Some music stores like Guitar Center or Steinert & Sons offer free group lessons and workshops for children and adults.

If there isn’t a music store in your area, see if a local studio offers free introductory lessons. You can also check with your city’s recreation department and local community centers. Some offer free piano classes as a service to the community.

One benefit of these free piano lessons is the ability to ask a teacher questions in person, and have them physically show you what to do. A quick search will tell you if these options are available in your area.

Now that you know where to find free piano lessons, we encourage you to get started today and commit to growing your musical abilities. The benefits of learning the piano go far beyond being able to simply play a piece of music. You’ll also get to take advantage of health benefits such as reducing stress, strengthening your hand muscles, and stimulating the brain!

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5 Little-Known Factors That Affect Your Piano Posture

correct piano posture

Proper piano posture: the words alone are enough to make any pianist wince, straighten up, and make every effort to maintain it, at least for a few minutes.

You may not realize that when you’re playing the piano, your posture is a key factor in your technique and whether or not you feel at ease practicing the instrument.

Because practicing is a repetitive activity, it’s important to do it well. Otherwise, you risk reinforcing bad habits through repetition. If you struggle with maintaining proper piano posture over time, it could lead to pain and injury.

When your body is in an optimal relationship to the bench, the ground, the pedals, and the keys, you develop ways of executing challenging passages with coordination, skill, and grace without as much effort. Let’s take a look at how to improve our piano posture.

5 Factors That Affect Piano Posture

Slumping at the piano is an obvious no-no, but there are a few additional factors that you probably haven’t considered relevant to your piano posture.

Recognizing these factors and making adjustments can create a significant difference in feeling poised and comfortable at the piano. The best part is, these changes are all very easy to implement into your routine!

1. Your Bench

The first culprit to proper piano posture is often your bench (or lack thereof). The bench is the last thing someone considers when buying a piano or keyboard. You may not even have a bench at all!

Remember that the bench is an integral part of the piano, and it’s important to find one that’s a good fit for you. A good option for many people is an adjustable bench, which you can tailor to any player’s height. This ensures that your hand and wrist positioning are correct, so that you can make a good tactile connection to the piano and avoid repetitive stress injuries.

Your bench is also a source of stability.

Your sitting-bones (at the bottom of your pelvis) give you strength to play forcefully when needed. Standing up while playing is particularly hazardous, since you’re forced to look down at the piano and bend your arms at an awkward angle to reach the keys.

One other common problem is using a chair instead of a bench. While not the worst option, this can also negatively affect your posture, particularly if you have a tendency to recline into the backrest while playing. As you can see, your bench can make a big difference in your ability to stabilize, connect to the piano, and draw the music from your whole body, not just your hands.

2. Practice Session Length

Another critical factor that’s often missed when thinking about correct piano posture is how long you’ve been seated. Playing for extra long periods of time can wreck anyone’s posture, even those who started with good posture at the beginning of the practice session.

This is especially true for beginners, since the amount of concentration needed to execute your playing makes it challenging to also dedicate attention to your posture.

At the end of a long practice session, you might find yourself over-focused at the piano, with your neck drawn forward to your music and your spine collapsed. Luckily, this hidden factor in piano posture is easily fixed.

Take frequent breaks, set a timer if needed, and build up to longer playing times as your body adjusts and forms good habits.

3. Not Using a Footstool

This next surprising pitfall is particularly key for children and shorter adults at the piano. Are your legs dangling from the piano bench? This is a big red flag! Just like the bench helps you to stabilize your body, so does the ground.

If you’re not touching the ground, you’re losing a place to release your weight into while maintaining an upright posture.

Being upright at the piano actually starts from the ground, and an adjustable footrest is an excellent solution.

Not using a footstool when it’s needed means you’ll be putting a lot of effort and strain into your upper body. You may even find that your legs are tense, as you can get into the habit of holding them up while they dangle in the air.

4. Lack of Exercise

Another factor you may not have considered actually happens outside of piano practice. Have you ever thought about physical fitness as a part of maintaining good posture at the piano?

Playing the piano is an endurance sport of your small muscles, as well as your spine and upper body.

Exercising allows you to release any tension from your practice session and encourage circulation.

Another reason to exercise outside of your piano practice goes back to the idea of repetition. Since you’re exercising certain muscles repeatedly at the piano, it’s important to vary your workout so you can avoid tension from over-strengthening certain muscles.

5. Your Position on the Bench

Lastly, it’s important to take a few minutes to notice how you’re sitting on the bench. A big factor in correct piano posture is to make sure you don’t just have the right equipment, but that you’re also using it well.

If you’re sitting too far back on the bench, this can have a detrimental effect on your posture.

Why? Just like you don’t want to be collapsed forward and leaning too far into the piano, it’s equally important not to lean back and over-straighten your arms.

This position strains your connection to the keys and causes too much effort to maintain your posture. It also throws off the positioning of your head, as your head may crane forward to compensate for your backwards stance. Yikes!

Final Tips & Tricks

Now that you’ve seen some sneaky causes of bad piano posture, here are a few tips that will help you reduce strain in the future. With these tips, you’ll feel better and look effortlessly graceful at the piano, too!

  • For pianists who feel that the weight of the music lies in their shoulders, try to release your upper body weight into the bench, so your shoulders can release and widen.
  • You can do the same with your feet by allowing them to release into the ground, so your legs feel free instead of tense.
  • Allow your head to rest easily on top of your spine and try to avoid pulling your neck forward, toward the music.
  • Let your eyes view the music with a wide, easy gaze so the muscles of your head and neck can release.

Having correct piano posture is very important, and if you feel like you need some more attention in this area, a qualified piano teacher can help you overcome these challenges and improve your technique.

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12 Best Piano Brands for Every Kind of Pianist (w/Sound Clips!)

Best Piano Brands

When you’re in the market for a piano, the possibilities of piano brands can seem endless. Yamaha or Kawai? Digital or acoustic?

If you want to end up with the perfect piano for your budget, skill level, and musical goals, this guide is a great place to start. Any one of these 12 popular piano brands will offer you an excellent choice.

The 12 Best Piano Brands for All Pianists

Yamaha


This Japanese brand is recognized worldwide for its excellence and versatility. They build sturdy, high quality pianos and offer good digital options, as well. Their pianos are known for having a signature bright sound, yet there is still a roundness to the sound.

Yamaha is an innovative brand that is constantly improving and creating new models to meet a variety of needs. One of the coolest features you can find on a Yamaha piano is its silent piano option. The feature allows you to play an acoustic piano but hear the sound through headphones, so you can practice at any hour without disturbing others.

Many well-known musicians endorse Yamaha including Alicia Keys, Elton John, and Chick Corea. Its U1, and slightly larger U3, upright models are well-loved acoustic pianos that stand the test of time. Its CLP series is a popular digital option.

Yamaha also sells concert grand pianos. Their prices are fair for the quality, and they are a reasonable option for anyone looking for an upright piano.

Steinway & Sons

Quality and history come together to form Steinway & Sons, a favorite piano maker of many musicians. A German immigrant in New York City started Steinway, and it remains there today.

Steinway is a classical pianist’s dream. Many famous pianists endorse the brand including Lang Lang, Mitsuko Uchida, and Martha Argerich. Steinway offers different sizes of grand pianos, which are often selected based on the size of the concert hall they are used in.

Due to its long history, you can find many vintage Steinways for sale. Steinway’s grand pianos are their most well-known models, but their price range makes them a better choice for the most dedicated and serious pianists.

Luckily, they’ve also created two lines of pianos for those with a more limited budget: the Essex (entry level) and the Boston (mid-level).

Kawai

Kawai is another one of the Japanese piano brands that offers pianos at a reasonable price range. They are durable, well-made pianos with several unique features, including longer keys for increased technical ease and the use of different materials in their construction, like plastic and composite.

Their digital pianos were the first to be built with wood keys, offering the experience of an acoustic piano’s keys. Kawai upright pianos and digital pianos are good options for intermediate pianists who want a fairly priced, durable option. Artists playing Kawai pianos include Joe Yamada and Steven Curtis Chapman.

Bösendorfer

If you care about tradition and history when shopping for piano brands, you will value Bösendorfer. Established in 1828, the pianos have a rich and luscious sound. One innovation is the addition of keys beyond the typical 88.

This piano maker is best for connoisseurs and serious pianists who are ready to invest in a well-crafted piano, as their pianos are among the most expensive in the world. Their grand pianos are the bulk of their production, with a few upright pianos offered as well.

Artists who love Bösendorfer pianos include Kimiko Ishizaka, Beatrice Berrut, and Saskia Giorgini.

Fazioli

This northern Italian piano maker creates only the finest grand pianos. Its various models include creations made from unique materials like red elm, ebony, and even gold leaf.

Fazioli pianos are truly works of art, and their price range is very high for this reason. While it’s a relatively young piano brand (started in the late 1970s), Paolo Fazioli’s dedication to his craft quickly established his reputation in the piano world.

Herbie Hancock, Matteo Fossi, and Lucas Wong all treasure Fazioli pianos. This piano brand is perfect for a serious pianist who is ready to invest in a piano for life. 

C. Bechstein

Bechstein pianos have a long history, with endorsements from composers like Franz Liszt and Claude Debussy creating a worldwide demand. Vassily Primakov, Kit Armstrong, and Michael Dalberto are all well-known pianists who enjoy playing these gorgeous and elegant pianos.

The German pianos are ideal for concert hall performances as well as recording studio work. There is also a line of high quality upright pianos. The price range of the Concert pianos is high, but Bechstein has created three other piano brands to suit a variety of needs.

Beginners can explore the Zimmerman and W. Hoffman brands, while advanced players should look at the C. Bechstein Academy brand.

Blüthner

Blüthner is a Leipzig-based, German brand that achieved acclaim in the time of composers like Brahms, Mahler, and Wagner. It also grew in popularity with The Beatles’ music.

These pianos have stood the test of time. Blüthner currently makes a wide variety of models including uprights and grands. Many artists are fans of Blüthner pianos, including Rima Chacaturian, Billy Childs, and Ying Feng.

Blüthner pianos are best for those who value tradition and creativity. The pianos create a memorable sound and are long-lasting. Known as the piano with the “golden tone,” the price tag reflects the quality of the brand.

Mason & Hamlin


This Massachusetts-based brand is a stalwart in the industry, making several models of grand pianos and a professional upright model. Their pianos are especially well-built and made to last.

Mason & Hamlin made several innovations in the design of their pianos, including the crown retention system, used in the soundboard. These pianos are a good choice for anyone interested in purchasing a quality vintage piano.

The pianos are on par with Steinway in performance, and their price tag reflects this. Artists playing the timeless pianos include Brian Culbertson, Jarrod Radnich, and Rod Tanski.

Stuart & Sons


Want to have your own custom-built piano? Australian brand Stuart & Sons builds pianos with high-quality materials and excellent craftsmanship. Custom orders can be placed directly with the piano makers.

The pianos come in concert grand and studio grand sizes, with either 97 keys or 102 keys. Choices of materials include Tasmanian Huon Pine and Tasmanian Sassafras. These pianos are unique works of art and as such, are best for those with a high budget who want a piano full of personality.

Artists playing Stuart & Sons pianos include Gregory Kinda and Fiona Joy Hawkins.

Casio


Casio is an electronic keyboard maker known for producing lightweight and compact keyboards that can go anywhere. Their price can’t be beat. The portable models are popular, but Casio also offers more advanced arranger keyboards and space-saving, discreet console pianos.

Their pianos offer many fun sounds that can transform your music making. This brand comes from Japan, and is popular with many singers, pop musicians, and stage performers. Rachel Sage, Larry Dunn, and Kyle Morrison all use Casio keyboards.

Casio keyboards are best for young beginner pianists, those with interests in rock, pop, or metal, and pianists who enjoy experimenting with unique sounds at the piano.

Korg


Korg is another one of the many Japanese piano brands that dominate this list. This modern, digital brand offers a wide range of models, from beginner to more complex. Korg is known for its technological advancements and their ability to produce a wide variety of piano sounds.

Korg offers many versatile digital pianos in a very reasonable price range. The C1 Air model is a good option with technological advancements like Bluetooth. Artists who use Korg digital pianos include Richard Clayderman, Herbie Hancock, and Tom Coster.

Roland


Roland, also from Japan, offers both digital and acoustic pianos in a moderate price range. They are aesthetically-pleasing pianos that are recommended for a variety of needs.

Whether you’re a beginner looking for a digital piano or a more serious pianist looking for a well-made acoustic, Roland has something for you. The F-120 is a popular model for a beginner looking for a digital piano. Jim Brickman, David Benoit, and Marcus Johnson all play Rolands.

How to Find the Best Piano Brands For You

Whether you’re a beginner or advanced pianist, there are some guidelines you can follow to make the process of choosing a piano easier. Before you decide, spend some time considering the following factors.

    • How much room do you have for a piano?
      • Answering this question will help you choose between a digital and acoustic piano, since digital pianos can take up much less room. It can also help you decide between an acoustic upright piano or an acoustic grand piano.
    • Do you prefer digital or acoustic pianos?
      • While many prefer the feeling of striking an acoustic piano’s keys, these pianos do come with some additional upkeep. And don’t forget to factor in the cost of annual tuning, which is essential for acoustic pianos. 
    • What is your budget for a piano?
      • Setting a budget will help you narrow down your options. Your budget will affect whether you buy new versus used, digital versus acoustic, or one piano brand over another.
    • What are your goals with playing piano?
      • Just because you’re a beginner who doesn’t need 88 keys right now, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Likewise, after a few years you might feel unsatisfied with a cheaper keyboard that doesn’t have weighted keys. Think about investing more so you can keep enjoying your piano over the years. Or if you’re just trying out piano, start small and upgrade once you’re more committed to playing.

Lastly, always try a piano in person before you buy it. Choosing a piano is a very personal decision with many factors unique to each individual, such as the feel of the piano. Trying different piano brands in person is the best way to gain insight into the right piano for you.

If you still need help deciding between the many piano brands that are available, try seeking advice from an experienced piano teacher.

Now that you’ve explored all of the best piano brands, start improving your playing skills in the free piano classes at TakeLessons Live. There are daily classes available for every kind of pianist. Here’s to your new piano!

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Guitar vs Piano: Which Instrument Do Musicians Prefer? [Vote]

Guitar vs piano

So you want to learn a musical instrument and you’ve narrowed it down to the guitar vs piano. Which one should you play?

One of the biggest advantages to playing the guitar is its quick learning curve, but an equally excellent reason to learn the piano is its layout that helps you understand music theory.

If you’re debating between learning piano vs guitar, here are five important factors to consider about the pros and cons of each instrument.  

Already made up your mind? Cast your vote below!

 

Which instrument do you prefer: guitar or piano?

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Guitar vs Piano: Which is Better?

The Learning Curve for Piano and Guitar

learning piano vs guitar

Piano – Learn Notes and Scales First

As a beginner pianist, you’ll most likely learn how to play melodies before you learn chords. You’ll learn notes and scales first. Then, you’ll make different combinations of those notes to form chords.

Dealing with scales before chords in this way allows for a more chronological approach to music theory. In contrast to changing keys on the guitar by simply using a capo, on a piano you’ll have to use theory to transpose the key.

Don’t be intimidated by all this, because the piano lends itself toward music theory very well; the linear layout of the instrument is the perfect visual aid. However because you’re learning theory, playing your favorite songs on the piano can take longer than on guitar.

Guitar – Learn Chords Quickly

Students who want to start playing songs right away typically lean toward the guitar vs piano. The guitar is an integral part of most pop songs, so it’s easy to find songs you can play once you learn the right set of chords.  

Also, if you find that the key needs to be changed to fit your vocal range, you can simply attach a capo to the guitar and use the same chord shapes. While using a capo isn’t necessary to change keys on the guitar, it’s a simplified option that many guitarists use.

Affordability of the Guitar vs Piano

price of guitar vs piano

Guitar – $100 to $1,000

A good starter guitar typically costs between $100-$200. Guitars have become more affordable over the years with competition between local and online music stores. But before buying a guitar, it’s highly recommended that you play it first.

If you happen to be able to afford a guitar between $300-$500, you’ll see a significant improvement in playability and sound. There are many quality guitars available in this range. A guitar in the $500-$1,000 range would be best fit for a more advanced guitarist.

Piano – $100 to $1500+

A good beginner keyboard can be found between $100-$200. Factors to consider in this price range are the number of keys and whether they are weighted or non-weighted keys. As a beginner pianist, you can learn just fine on a 61-key keyboard.

As you develop though, the songs you’ll play will require a greater range on the piano. That’s when a full size, 88-key keyboard or digital piano would be needed. Digital pianos are generally around $500-$1,500 and are designed to more closely replicate acoustic pianos in sound and feel.

Lastly, if you can afford it and have room for one, acoustic pianos are the way to go. These start at roughly $1,500 but the unrivaled tone and feel make it worth the investment if you are really serious about learning piano.  

Reading Music for Guitar vs Piano

learning piano vs guitar

Guitar – Chord Charts and TABs

Chord charts are the main form of notation for reading chords on the guitar. They are quick and easy to learn how to read. Chord charts indicate when to play a chord by showing chord names above the lyrics.

The other notation most widely used on guitar is tablature notation, also known as TABs. TABs is a notation that is specific to guitar because it resembles the instrument closely. The six lines represent the guitar’s six strings, and the numbers indicate which fret to press down.

Learning how to read TABs is simple and allows you to mine the databases of endless pop and rock songs online. However, one downside to chord charts and TABs is that they are not as precise as standard notation.

Piano – Reading Standard Notation

Chord charts are also used for reading music on the piano. But in addition, the piano staff is added underneath the chord names. In this way, notation for the piano is generally more complex.

Standard notation is fairly easy to learn on piano because the two closely resemble each other. Just like the notes on the piano ascend from left to right, the notes on the staff ascend from low to high. So if a goal of yours is to learn sheet music, you’ll achieve that early on in piano lessons.

Portability of the Guitar vs Piano

guitar vs piano

Guitar – Travel Friendly

The guitar is one of the most portable instruments. Even the bulkiest guitars can be taken on road trips and public transportation. Airplanes widely consider guitars a carry-on item that can be stored in overhead compartments.

In addition there are a wide variety of travel, mini, and backpacker guitars that are very small and lightweight. As long as you have a good guitar case, you should be able to take your guitar with you anywhere!

Piano – Portable Options are Limited

There is a wide variety of piano sizes to choose from to suit your needs. If you’re looking for the smallest and lightest possible option, you can turn to midi controllers that range from a couple octaves to all 88 keys. However, these must be plugged into a computer which produces the sound.

The next size up are keyboards that also range from a couple octaves to 88 keys. They are generally a little bigger and heavier than midi controllers, but are easier to transport than most digital pianos (which is the next size up).

The largest options are acoustic pianos, which include a variety of upright and grand pianos. Their weighted keys give you more expressiveness and greater potential for dynamics, but keep in mind that you will have to sacrifice the convenience of a portable instrument.

Best Musical Genres for Piano and Guitar

Learning piano vs guitar

Piano – Classical

Classical musicians often start learning piano vs guitar. Because of the instrument’s rich history in classical music, students can expect to encounter classical compositions early on in the learning process.

Just like the guitar though, the piano is a very versatile instrument that can be heard in many other genres of music. Pop music in general seems to more commonly include keyboards than guitars.

Guitar – Rock

Most rock enthusiasts prefer the guitar over the piano. Guitar is the quintessential rock instrument. Early rock and roll pioneers who played the guitar include Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. They paved the way for later “rock guitar gods,” from Jimi Hendrix to Jimmy Page.

When people think of rock music, they think of distorted electric guitars. This is such a specific sound that the guitar holds the market in, but it’s also an extremely versatile instrument. That clean, acoustic guitar sound is popular in other genres as well, such as country music.

Take a Lesson!

By now you can see the pros and cons of learning piano vs guitar. To help you reach a decision about which is better for you, consider these five factors: learning curve, affordability, music notation, portability, and your desired musical genres.

Ultimately, the best thing you can do to decide is try out both instruments. On TakeLessons Live, you can try beginner-level classes for free in both piano and guitar. Try it today!

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Am I Too Old To Learn Piano? 5 Answers from Expert Piano Teachers

Am I too old to learn piano

People of many different ages find themselves asking the question: am I too old to learn piano? No matter your age, playing the piano is a wonderful skill to have for a variety of reasons.

Studies have shown that playing music reduces stress and improves the memory. Playing an instrument in a group also leads to lifelong friendships, while refining communication and social skills.

If you’re wondering whether or not your age will stand in between you and all the benefits of playing the piano, keep reading. We asked five piano experts for their thoughts on adult students, from different age groups, learning to play the instrument.

“Am I Too Old to Learn Piano?” Get Answers Here. 

Is 20-30 Too Old to Learn Piano?

Liz T. – Piano Teacher in Brooklyn, NY

“Learning to play, or picking back up, the piano or keyboard in your 20s is a wonderful idea! Many students from a variety of fields enjoy exploring their creative side in addition to their professions. Diving into the piano is also a nice release from your busy work day.

If a student had attempted to play piano when they were much younger, but didn’t have the focus or patience, oftentimes this focus is much more narrowed as an adult, and the concepts are easier to comprehend when you’re between 20-30.”

What is Your Advice to Students in This Age Group?

“My advice for adults learning to play piano is to take a fun song you know, and start from the basics. Learn the melody with the left hand, then the right hand, and put them together. Practice a little bit each day, even if it’s for 15 minutes in the morning when you wake up, and 15 minutes before you go to bed at night.”

Is 30-40 Too Old to Learn Piano?

Rebecca K. – Piano Teacher in Vallejo, CA

“The 30-40 age is such a unique and frankly, exhausting time to live. I know- I’m there myself! Many of us have young kids, a job, and enough worries to fill a bank account (even when it feels like nothing else can). That’s why I argue that this age is the PERFECT time to start learning piano! Self-care is something we must practice, especially in finding something that brings you joy.”

What is Your Advice to Students in This Age Group?

“All piano takes is dedication, an instrument, and a little bit of time. You’re never too old to start learning piano; you may, however, get to a point where you regret not starting sooner!”

Is 40-50 Too Old to Learn Piano?

James F. – Piano Teacher in Charlotte, NC

“There is no age that is really ‘too old’ to learn to play the piano. However, there are lifestyle factors that typically get in the way of progress once somebody enters the workforce full-time.

Many of my adult students have struggled with balancing a professional career, a family, and their progress as a piano player. There are ways, however, for the disciplined student to overcome this.”

What is Your Advice to Students in This Age Group?

“I recommend practicing in 10-25 minute sets, two to four times a day. Three times a day or more is really ideal, as in – wake up a little bit earlier to practice, do another session as soon as you get home, and another one right before bed. With this routine, you will see progress.”

Is 50-60 Too Old to Learn Piano?

William P. – Piano Teacher in Waterbury, Connecticut

“Learning piano has no age limit. In fact, activities like learning piano can stimulate the brain, increasing the ability to recall information. There are physical benefits to learning piano as well.

By practicing fine motor skills in your fingers, piano students are keeping the muscles in their hands flexible. Having flexibility in your hands can combat arthritis and improve circulation in your fingers.”

What is Your Advice to Students in This Age Group?

“There are three things to keep in mind. The first is that music is like a language, and it requires time and patience to achieve steady growth. Secondly, physical problems such as arthritis or joint stiffness are only minor obstacles that can easily be overcome.

Lastly, learning an instrument should be seen as a simple pleasure in life and not a chore. Approach it as a time to explore your musical side!”

Is 70+ Too Old to Learn Piano?

Marie France M. – Piano Teacher in Waldwick, NJ

“There are certain advantages the 70+ student brings to the table. They are self-motivated which means no one has to push them to practice and they know what they want to learn, which gives the teacher a clear focus.”

What is Your Advice to Students in This Age Group?

“Elder students do have a higher percentage of physical challenges than their younger counterparts, particularly with eyesight and arthritis. I recommend having good direct lighting, and a magnifying glass in reach. Large print music is also a real plus.

Work in five-minute increments with a moment in between to massage the fingers and do a quick posture and relaxation check before going on.”

Next Steps for Learning Piano as an Adult…

When it comes to learning the piano, age is just a number! Now that you no longer have to wonder “Am I too old to learn piano?”, here are a few steps you can take to get started.

  • Find a piano teacher who has experience working with older students.
  • Not ready for private lessons yet? Try free online piano classes.
  • Commit to practicing everyday and take baby steps.
  • Remember to enjoy yourself! Piano lessons and practice should be fun.
  • Stay motivated by keeping the reasons you want to learn piano top of mind.

Whether playing the piano is an escape from the stresses of life, a goal you’ve wanted to pursue for years, or an exercise to help with the effects of aging, you won’t regret starting your piano-learning journey today.

Are you an older piano student with advice to share? Leave a comment below and share your tips!

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Classical Pianists

Which of These Classical Pianists are You Most Like? [Quiz]

Classical Pianists

Have you ever wondered which famous classical pianist you resemble the most? Take this fun quiz to find out whether your personality and musical traits have more in common with Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, or Chopin!

Which of These Classical Pianists are You Most Like?

To this day, famous classical pianists such as Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, and Chopin are regarded as some of the pioneers of classical music. Students around the world are still studying and performing the works of these four remarkable composers.

But how much do you actually know about their lives and stories? Here are some fun and interesting facts to spark your curiosity!

Fun Facts About 4 Famous Classical Pianists

Ludwig van Beethoven

At seven years old, Beethoven gave his first public performance in Germany as a virtuoso pianist. By the age of 12, he published nine variations in C minor for the piano. He quickly became admired by many aristocrats in Vienna. Although he had tremendous talent, he also reportedly had a terrible temper, too.

Beethoven spent his entire life composing beautiful works, even despite losing his hearing. He was able to make a living performing and commissioning public works.

He also took on many music students, (whom he often became romantically involved with). Many classical music fans consider the “Missa Solemnis” to be Beethoven’s greatest work.

Frédéric Chopin

Chopin is known as the greatest composer of Poland and the greatest pianist of the Romantic era. After growing up as a child prodigy, he quickly rose to fame in Europe. He performed and composed for the piano alone, and accompaniments.

Chopin was very innovative in his piano technique, fingering, and melodies. He became a popular teacher, and as he grew older he actually began to dislike public performances.

Chopin’s etudes and mazurkas have stood the test of time. After losing a battle to tuberculosis, his heart was placed in an urn in the Holy Cross Church of Krakowskie Przedmiscie.

SEE ALSO: What’s Your Piano Style? [Quiz]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart is regarded as the most influential composer of the Classical era. He had a reputation for not being “well behaved” in public. He also reportedly had a daring style and sense of humor.

Mozart came from a family of musicians in Austria and his parents pushed him to greatness. His music became known for its harmonic innovation which he demonstrated in piano, violin, and orchestral compositions.

His operas “The Magic Flute,” “Don Giovanni,” and “The Marriage of Figaro” are still popular performances today. Mozart influenced many composers to follow including Haydn and Handel.

Johann Sebastian Bach

Bach spent most of his life performing and composing in Germany. He was highly skilled at playing the organ at a young age.

Bach came from a family of musicians and played for many people of noble stature, including royalty. He had an excellent reputation as a performer. He also experimented with religious compositions of the Catholic mass, including the Kyrie and Gloria.

His compositions, such as “Ave Maria” and “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,” gained notable popularity over the years. However, few of Bach’s works were published during his lifetime. He suffered major health issues at the end of his life including blindness. Many consider Bach to be the best composer of the Baroque era.

Each of these musicians were innovative thinkers who embraced their own unique musical styles. Without their boldness, the world would be at a loss for such captivating classical piano compositions.

Are you ready to learn some of the great works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin? Schedule a piano lesson today to get started.

Leave us a comment below and share which classical pianist you’re most like!

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LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches piano, singing, acting, and many more subjects online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M. in Vocal Performance and performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!
Wolfie piano app

Piano App Review: Tonara’s Wolfie

Wolfie piano app

Are you looking for a new piano app to help sharpen your skills? Below, piano teacher Ryan C. dishes all of the details on the teaching app Wolfie…

As a piano teacher, I’m always looking for new ways to inspire my students and help them learn faster.

I’ve spent an enormous amount of time making my own supplemental materials, writing pedagogical articles, and thinking of fun piano games to keep them engaged.

While all of this work has been very helpful for my own sake as a teacher, I’ve found that my younger students often need a more light-hearted and fun way to learn.

That’s where Wolfie comes along.

Wolfie, developed by Tonara, is a piano app for the iPad that features some incredibly powerful tools for students as well as teachers.

As a brief aside – I have worked with this piano app in the past and was impressed by its features, but it’s been significantly updated from when I first worked with it.

Below are some of my favorite features and benefits the app has offer.

Benefits for Piano Students

1. Great user-interface

The app features a fun, colorful user-interface with sorting of repertoire by grade-levels, which makes it easy for students to navigate and find pieces in their appropriate playing range.

It also has a surprisingly large amount of repertoire for most grade-levels, though much more for beginners than for advanced players.

2. Play along feature

This feature is probably the most useful. Wolfie will listen through your microphone (if you give it permission) and follow your playing.

It will also show you on the screen where you are, play accompaniment parts, and so on, in real time.

3. Multiple modes of practicing / listening

There are five different modes that students can access for each piece: Annotate, Practice, Listen, Evaluate, and Play Along.

The Annotate tool is probably more likely to be used by teachers, but all of the other modes are exceptionally useful to students.

For instance, the Evaluate mode will listen to your playing and give you a grade based on how well you did.

The Listen mode allows you to listen to YouTube recordings of professional pianists playing the pieces, and the Play Along tool plays alongside you with a midi recording that adapts to you in real time.

4. Cost-effective

Although the app itself is free, in order to access the music, Wolfie does require a paid monthly subscription. Just $5.00 a month unlocks a premium one-year subscription plan.

Paying a subscription for music may not sound incredibly appealing to many students/parents, but piano books are expensive. $5.00 a month is certainly less than spending $10.00 or so per book every few months.

Benefits for Piano Teachers

1. Easy collaboration

Teachers can ‘invite’ their students to a ‘studio’ in the app. This links students’ accounts to the teacher’s, who can then monitor their progress, see what pieces they’ve been playing (and how long they’ve been practicing them), and assess how well they’ve been playing them.

2. Hands-on teaching

Teachers can use the Annotate mode to write changes to the score directly onto the digital copy. This includes using a pen tool, making text boxes, highlighting, and so on.

3. Monitor student progress

If students are using the piano app correctly, teachers won’t have to worry about students not practicing or practicing incorrectly before lessons.

Thanks to the Evaluate mode mentioned earlier, teachers can see how well their students are doing prior to having their next piano lesson.

Check out this picture to see what the results of the Evaluate mode look like:

4. Fresh ideas

Thanks to the built-in features of the app, teachers no longer have to struggle to come up with new ways to motivate younger students to practice.

That means less time coming up with new lesson plans and more time interacting directly with the student.

5. Low-cost

Teachers get a year-long free subscription if two of their students sign up for the one-year subscription plan, making it a very low-cost solution!

Try it Yourself!

Wolfie provides some awesome benefits for both students and teachers to enjoy. I personally think that it’s a really powerful and useful app to add to any teacher’s tool-kit.

Photo via Wolfie

Post Author: Ryan C.
Ryan C. teaches piano, ear training, and music theory. He is a graduate of San Diego State University with a B.M. in piano performance. Learn more about Ryan here!

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