How to Start Learning to Play the Piano

Some viewers have told me that they are thinking of learning to play the piano, and asked me for tips on how to start.

Here is one of my answers:

Firstly, learn the basics, either from a teacher or online. What are the basics?

1) Learn the correct technique from the start – always play with your hand shaped as if you were holding the top of a smallish balloon. Keep your fingers curved when you press keys down (don’t let your first finger joint collapse). This will ensure good control of your fingers. It’s the difference between walking with strong ankles and with wobbly feet 🙂

2) Learn letter names of each key on the piano – there are only 7 actually. Learn where they are in relation to the black keys. This should help: http://www.true-piano-lessons.com/piano-notes-chart.html. Once you’ve learnt this, you can already try learning simple songs from tutorials! If you can’t remember the notes, jot them down onto a piece of paper. Eg. Twinkle twinkle – C C G A A G,  F F E E D D C, G G F F E E D, etc. Make your own scorebook of your favourite songs 🙂

3) Learn how to read notes on a stave. This is a very useful skill…and it’s NOT quantum physics, so don’t be afraid to try 😉 You can start here: http://www.true-piano-lessons.com/piano-notes.html

4) Develop aural skills. You need these so that you can play by ear. There are plenty of games and ear training software and smartphone apps for this, so Google them, or check out Google Play or the App Store and enjoy learning 😉

5) Watch lots of pianists on YouTube to see their fingering techniques. Knowing how to choose the right fingering enables you to play smoothly. Learn some fingering techniques like 1. stretching your hand 2. contracting your hand, 3.turning thumb under the fingers, 4. turning fingers over thumb, 5. changing fingers while holding down a key.

6) Be very patient with yourself. Learning an instrument takes time and thought. Acquiring good, independent control of your fingers and hands might (and usually does) take YEARS 😛  Analyse where and why you make mistakes, search for solutions (from your teacher/friends/online) and write reminders to yourself. You can’t remember EVERYTHING, so write it down and practise it correctly until it becomes an automatic thing to do.

All the best…and have great fun!

If you found this helpful, do browse through my other posts in the “About writing/reading/playing music” category 🙂

Posted on September 9, 2014, in About writing/reading/playing music and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hi Joyce! I hope you remember me. How shall I practice and create arpeggios?

    • Arpeggios use the notes of a chord. So if you’re using a C chord, you’ll be playing C E and G. But usually, that is spread out to be C G C’ G, or C G C’ E’. When you play other people’s scores, you should pay attention to how they do the left hand arpeggios 🙂 There are many ways!

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