There’s no magic formula for learning to play a musical instrument. Everyone has their own natural aptitude for learning and learns at a different rate. But there are definitely some helpful hints and tips that all successful piano players have in common that we can all use to improve our playing.
Here’s our top 10 tips if you’re learning to play the piano:
- Establish a practice routine
How many times a week will you commit to practising piano? What time of day? Perhaps you have 20 minutes free each weekday while your evening meal is cooking, or 15 minutes on a morning while you’re waiting for everyone else to finish getting ready for work/school? Make the most of these little snippets of time. Once you incorporate your practice into your regular daily routine you’ll find it much easier to remember! When you sit down to practise, try to have a set routine – maybe warm up with some scales or exercises then move onto the sections of your pieces that need work and finish off with an old favourite.
- Quality, not quantity
Regular practice throughout the week – even if it’s only 15 minutes a day – will be more useful than trying to cram an hour or so the night before your lesson. You need time to absorb the material, and for your hands & fingers to develop their muscle memory. Little and often is the way!
- Once is not enough
When learning a new piece, try to work in small sections and repeat them a couple of times over before moving on to the next section. A good test is to see if you can play the section three times in a row without slips or mistakes before moving on.
- Improve your technique
To improve your technique and dexterity, practise your pieces with a metronome at a slower speed, or try to practise special piano exercises such as Hanon or Czerny, which were written for this very purpose.
- Practice makes perfect
Don’t expect instant results. You don’t learn things immediately, so don’t be too disheartened if something isn’t played correctly the first couple of times you play it.
- Get out of your comfort zone
Try to target and specifically practise parts of your piece you find more difficult and challenging. Whilst it’s important to go back over parts you can already play so you don’t forget them, to progress you really need to be focusing on the areas you can’t play!
- Posture & self-care
Look after yourself when practising; you can actually over-practise. It’s also important to make sure you’re sitting comfortably at the piano so you don’t get back-aches. Remember to play with your shoulders down and arms relaxed so you’re not causing any tension.
- Start off slowly
Try to practise your piece slowly first rather than at the speed you want to play it. This will give your brain time to process all of the new notes and rhythms! As you improve, begin playing a little faster each time until you reach your target tempo.
- Enjoy yourself!
While improving your technique for your fingers is important, it’s also important to play pieces you actually enjoy and like. After all, why are learning to play an instrument if not to play music you enjoy?!
- Remember how far you’ve come
It’s common to have moments when you feel like giving up or that you’re not progressing as fast as you want to. Don’t give up! Look back at your journey so far and take a moment to appreciate how far you’ve already come. As they say – if it was easy, everyone would do it!