Getting Started on the Piano: Basics and Tips

basics of piano

There are few things in life that are as magical as being able to pick up an instrument and play music. It’s a talent that not only maintains and feeds the brain, but it also improves a variety of other cognitive and physical aspects of the human body. It’s been proven that learning how to play an instrument improves cognitive and muscle memory, enhances coordination, improves mathematical ability – the list goes on. And let’s also not forget to mention that it’s simply awesome! 

Unfortunately, it seems that fewer people are learning how to play a musical instrument and of those that can, it’s because it was passed onto them from family.  Recent studies show that only 54% of households have a member who can play a musical instrument. Of those, 48% have two or more additional members who can also play an instrument. And sure, this is still a great number to have! At least some people are still learning how to play a musical instrument, right? But it also shows that almost half of households don’t have anyone who can play an instrument and considering all the benefits that come from it, it’s a heartbreaking reality. But the question, why aren’t people choosing to pick up an instrument and learn how to play? Is it because kids would rather tap away on their tablets or play video games with their friends, or because music lessons are just far too expensive. It could very well be both. But the good news is that you don’t have to break the bank just to afford music lessons for yourself or a loved one, nor do you have to take your child off of their beloved tablet because online music lessons are all the rage, particularly online piano lessons since the keyboard can be downloaded right onto your tech devices.

Learning How to Play the Piano

You’ve gone through the different types of instruments you can learn how to play and decided to give the piano a try. Great choice! Playing the piano has shown to provide a plethora of physical and physiological advantages, and it’s also an awesome talent to have. Unlike riding a bike, learning how to play a musical instrument takes time, dedication, regular practice and of course, a little bit of hard work. But just like riding a bike, the end results are worth it.

You likely already know about in-person lessons or group lessons, so let’s talk a bit about online piano classes. These are an excellent option for absolutely everyone, whether you’re a bustling family with minimal time to travel to in-person lessons, are on a budget, or simply want to try something new at your own pace. Online piano lessons make it easy for anyone and everyone to learn how to play, and you don’t even have to leave your house.

The Different Types of Pianos or Keyboards

One of the first steps to learning how to play a musical instrument is to learn the instrument. Whether in-person or online, many piano lessons don’t require you to purchase your own piano or keyboard or have one physically in front of you, as you can use printouts and applications. But as you hone your skills, you will likely want to have a real one for you to practice and play on. The three most popular options are:

  • Digital keyboards are an affordable, convenient and versatile option that are great for beginners
  • Digital pianos are larger and more expensive, but they are versatile and effectively mimic the feeling of playing on an acoustic piano
  • Acoustic pianos are the best option for sound quality and experience, but they’re large and can be extremely pricey

Types of Piano Lessons

When thinking about starting piano lessons, your mind likely goes straight to traditional, in-person classes that can cost a fortune –  anywhere from $50 – $115 per lesson, to be exact. While there are many benefits to attending in-person lessons, the same can be experienced for a fraction of the price with alternative options. 

There are a variety of alternative ways you can learn how to play the piano, such as:

  • Traditional lessons: guided lessons taught by a teacher to the student in person and with instant feedback
  • Video tutorials: Digital lessons that you follow to teach yourself how to play the piano, with zero feedback or communication with the teacher
  • App learning: Digital option that allows you to learn how to play the piano through lessons, games and video tutorials with a simple download of an application
  • Computer lessons: Digital option that combines all of the types of lessons into one, with teachings from a professional, feedback, video tutorials, games, workbooks and much more

As mentioned previously, choosing to learn how to play the piano using one of the alternative options comes with a plethora of benefits. You receive all of the benefits of traditional in-person classes, plus the flexibility of being able to work at your own pace and when it fits your schedule. You don’t have to worry about traffic either, as the lessons can be done right at home.

But there’s a catch: not all online lessons are created equal. It’s imperative to ensure you’re receiving lessons from a trained professional and one that offers the type of piano lessons that suit your preference. In other words, what works for your friend may not work for you. We all learn differently, which is why online lessons are great, especially when they combine video, audiovisual, and written lessons.

Beginner Tips for Learning How to Play the Piano

Now that you have all the information needed to be able to pick the best instrument/device and lessons for you, it’s time to start playing. To help you embark on your new musical journey,  here are some of the top tips for learning how to play the piano, whether you’re doing self-taught lessons or attending traditional lessons.

Get a Real Keyboard or Piano

While it may not be in the budget just yet, set a goal to get a real keyboard or piano. You don’t have to purchase one, as there are many rental options out there, but having the real deal in front of you will drastically enhance your learning experience and enjoyment as a new musician. You can also download a keyboard app that closely replicates the feeling and appearance of having a keyboard in front of you.

Get To Know Your Instrument

Whether you’ve chosen to rent a piano, download a keyboard or purchase a brand new set of keys, it’s time to get to know your instrument. As mentioned previously, most teachers or online programs will begin with lessons that cater to understanding your instrument. These often come with a thorough breakdown of the instrument, the different keys and their names, the proper hand posture, what each key sounds like, and the basic chords.

Learn Proper Positioning

Speaking of hand postures, the placement of your arms and hands are of utmost importance when learning how to play the piano. It allows you to play the keys flawlessly and comfortably, while also helping to prevent repetitive stress injury. The lessons you choose to use should have this covered in detail. As a crash course, your right-hand should be in the “C Position”, a natural cupped shape that occurs when your hand is relaxed and hanging. Additionally, your wrists and forearms should be straight when playing.  

Set Your Goals

Decide what your goal is. Do you want to learn how to play beginner songs on your iPad for a party trick or do you want to learn how to play the piano so well that you get a standing ovation the next time you play? Set your goals and don’t forget to write them down. This simple trick makes you 40% more likely to achieve it.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice as much as you can, without taking the joy out of playing.  This should come to you fairly naturally, especially if you love what you’re doing. But even on those days when you just can’t quite get it or you are learning a technique that is trickier than others, remember that practice makes perfect. Keep practicing and the rest will fall into place.

Play with Others

Just because you aren’t attending traditional, in-person classes doesn’t mean you have to go through this awesome journey on your own. Connect with family and friends who also play an instrument, or join an online group and start playing together. This is a fun way to get some practice in, and you can learn a lot from other people.

Grab your instrument and sign up for those piano lessons. Channelling your inner pianist has never been easier. With the information learned in this article, you should be able to start learning how to play the piano in a way that best suits you, whether it’s online or with traditional lessons, or with a keyboard app or a grand piano. You can also check out the PianoForAll program

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