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Learn to play piano

To play the piano. Pair of hands playing the piano keyboard.

What’s the Idea?

A basic guideline on how to learn to play piano, with links to external resources.

What’s the story

This period of self-isolation is a perfect time to take up a new creative pursuit. The piano is a musical instrument, classed as a percussion instrument, played by pressing keys on a keyboard. Each of the 88 keys on a piano plays a different note.

Learning to play it is challenging, but if you have the patience and are willing to put the time into regular practice, you will master it, and it is very rewarding.

People should do this because…?

Playing the piano has many benefits for both mental and physical health, here are 8 examples:

1) Relieves stress.  Just a few minutes a day can lower blood pressure and make you feel more positive.

2) Enhances split concentration, as you use both hands to do different things.

3) Stimulates the brain, improving neural connections.  Playing the piano adds new neural connections developing some higher in the brain.

4) Strengthens hand muscles.  Maintaining the correct posture of hands and using the proper hand position while playing the piano makes your arms stronger.

5) Improves language skills.  The aural awareness developed by playing the piano makes it easier to understand the sound patterns of foreign languages.

6) Improves vocabulary and other classroom skills.  It broadens students’ vocabulary and verbal sequencing skills. Due to them being exposed to more words than kids who don’t learn music, their reading automatically improves.

7) Stimulates the growth hormones.  Human Growth Hormones have been found to have an altered growth in children who play piano.  These keep a person energetic and prevent issues like body ache and pain in old age.

8) Helps children accept criticism gracefully.  Taking piano lessons means you are subject to constant feedback and constructive criticism from teachers.  This prepares children to accept criticism in a positive way, building resilience.

How do you do it?

Ideally, to learn the piano, the best first step is to seek and acquire a good teacher.The right teacher can make all the difference in both support and progress.

Equally, the wrong teacher can have the opposite effect, and impact negatively, so be choosy when it comes to your selection.

If you cannot get a teacher for whatever reason, it’s totally possible to teach yourself, especially with the internet providing many useful links.

Try watching free online piano tutorials designed for beginners.

You can also purchase instructional books or DVDs that let you learn piano at your own pace.

Once you’re comfortable with that, you can practise playing scales and learn easy songs.

Familiarise yourself with your choice of piano or keyboard.

Learn some basic piano knowledge (i.e. 88 keys on a piano, natural keys, accidental keys, etc).

Identify the middle tones, flat and sharp keys,  low and high tones.  Listen carefully and notice how they are different.

Learn the major keys (e.g. C Major has no sharps or flats, G Major has one sharp – F#)

Learn the chords (e.g. The C Major triad is comprised of C, E and G)

Notice patterns – all songs are comprised of musical patterns, chords repeat themselves often in a steady beat or rhythm.  Identifying the patterns makes it easier to play a song that you hear by ear.

Get a basic understanding of finger placement from a beginner’s piano book.

Practise playing scales.

Learn some easy songs.

And never stop PRACTISING.

Equipment

  • A piano – either real or electronic.
  • Sheet music books of music that you want to play.
  • Piano exercise books (scales, etc).

Links to other articles on the web

Links to other videos on the web

Links to books

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