Learn a musical instrument as an adult or as a young child may sometimes seem like a daunting task. However, it doesn’t have to be. Below are a few piano lesson tips to help you get started, and enjoy playing the piano every step of the way.
1. Set Clear Goals
Learning how to play the piano should begin with clear goals – goals that are tangible and easily achieved. Setting small goals, and achieving them, ensures that the desire to learn is not short-lived.
Some examples of goals that you can set as a beginner include practicing for at least 30 minutes a day, practicing a certain scale, or practicing a particular passage in your assigned music.
2. Practice the Fundamentals (Scales, Arpeggios and More)
Scales and arpeggios are a big part of the music we play, so it makes sense to spend some time learning them. Scales help us understand the key signature of the music, and are often included in the music. Some melodies also outline chords, making arpeggios an important thing to focus on too.
Every instrument also has a few fundamentals books, written by master teachers, that every one learns from. For the piano student, one of the best books is Hanon. This book provides the student with skill building exercises that are designed to strengthen each finger.
3. Practice Slowly
Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book Outliers: The Story of Success, that the key to achieving world-class expertise in any skill is simply a matter of practicing the correct way for a total of 10,000 hours. However, it’s not just a matter of playing the notes correctly, it a matter of avoiding countless hours playing it incorrectly.
When you’re learning a new piece, begin by playing the piece very slow, making sure that all of the notes are correct and beautifully played. Have a goal of playing every passage perfectly every time. If you’re disciplined in this way you’ll make far better use of your time and soon be a world-class expert yourself!
4. Use a Metronome
Metronomes help musicians understand how fast the the composer intended the music to be played and how to play with a steady beat.
When you’re just starting out you’re own sense of steady beat is a reasonably good guide. By the time students reach jr. high school they should be practicing with a metronome every day. The daily discipline will strengthen their sense of steady beat, and make them a much better player.
Listening is learning. Students should listen to recordings of other players. Particularly recordings of the pieces that they are practicing, as it will help them add artistry to their own playing.
Listening also means listening to yourself play. Grab your cell phone or iPad and make a video of yourself playing your assigned lesson piece. When you play it back, listen to see if you are:
- Playing with a steady beat
- Playing the notes correctly
- Playing the dynamics
Congratulation on choosing to learn a musical instrument. If you keep these goals in mind you’ll soon be a great musician too!
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