Are you looking for a fun but productive activity to do in your free time? A hobby or passion that feels rewarding the more time you spend mastering it? Consider taking music lessons to master an instrument like the piano. You may not notice your day-to-day progress but your hard work will show overtime. It is especially rewarding if you enjoy being in the spotlight, as you may find later opportunities to perform in public.

If you live in a major city like Chicago, Boston, or Philadelphia and are thinking of taking up piano lessons, you have many resources available to you as you are in such a large city. With so many talented musicians around city as well as small and established music schools, you are bound to find a piano tutor or a music school to meet your needs.

Is Piano Right For You?

Learning a new instrument requires years of dedication, patience, and determination. So before you invest these previous resources into mastering the piano, first think about whether piano is the right instrument for you as a music student. There's a reason why the piano is the most popular instrument in the world today, and for many students, the piano is chosen for these reasons:

  • learn a classic instrument that's highly versatile
  • play almost songs of any genre from classical to pop
  • easy to start with simply pieces to complex pieces to master
  • it makes a beautiful sound
  • the cost of a keyboard is low, especially if you don't want to invest in a full-sized piano
old man playing piano in a dark space
Photo by Sven Read on Unsplash

If all the reasons above appeal to your tastes, then try taking a lesson or two with a dedicated teacher. After all, you don't have to fully commit yourself yet, so consider borrowing a keyboard for a month or so if you are still not sure about learning. Once you are certain that it's an instrument you'd like to keep with you, then it's a good to invest in a good keyboard or an actual grand piano.

Take Private Piano Classes in Chicago

When it comes to music lessons, it's never too late to enrol. In the United States there are plenty of music studios and independent music teachers offering piano lessons for all.

If a school doesn't advertise online or has zero online presence in Chicago, you can often find via by word-of-mouth by asking other music players or students for recommendations.

You can find a music teacher, school, or studio by searching up key words such as 'music lesson New York City', 'music school Los Angeles', and 'music lessons Houston' into online search engines like Google.

Often times the larger music schools offer other instruments like the guitar and violin for you to learn. They also allow you to take free test lessons to see if the school or the teachers' teaching styles are suitable for your needs. It's definitely a good idea to take advantage of these test lessons to try out your passion for the piano or maybe a different instrument like the guitar as well. After all, music is universal and many musicians often learn more than one instrument!

Having your very own private piano teacher is great for keeping your progress on track. However, it can also be quite expensive paying an hourly fee and the costs can add up over the years. If you are not keep on taking private lessons, try finding group classes in Chicago instead. By splitting the cost of hiring a private teacher between two or even three other students, the costs of an hour-long lesson can drastically decrease.

For those who can afford private piano lessons, it's a great way to learn at your own pace without the distraction of other students. You will get the sole attention of your teacher who can focus all their attention on your performance. If you are the shy type, you can also feel less stress when you are studying by yourself with the help of a dedicated teacher.

Steps to Mastering the Piano

If you are wondering how long is takes to master the piano, there is no solid answer! Generally, most people can become good players after a year or two, but the level of difficulty in the songs they can perform varies depending on natural talent, how many previous experience they have in music, and how much time they can dedicate to practising their art.

If you are still unsure, take a look at these basic steps to mastering the piano. Think about how long you want to spend on each of these steps, and this should give you an idea of the time it takes for you to become a good piano player.

1. Learning the Notes

Learning the notes on the piano is the first step to becoming familiar with the instrument, the same way knowing the English alphabet is essential to mastering the English language. It helps to understand some music theory as well, and most music schools will teach some basic theory knowledge during your course. The music notes are marked by the letters A B C D E F G and if you can match them to the keys on the piano, then you can move on!

2. Practising Techniques

Techniques refer to the way your fingers move around the keyboard and is often one of the hardest things to master as it requires hours of practice on end to train the muscles in your hand to react instinctively. Having good techniques also determines you skill levels and your ability to master more difficult pieces, as your fingers will be agile enough to move around faster and play with ease.

girl playing piano and singing at the same time
Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

3. Understanding Timing and Connections

This step requires some in-depth knowledge of music theory. If you don't understand what the timing notes in a music piece stand for, time to review them before you continue playing! Timing is crucial for playing songs on the piano, if you don't get them right then the entire song might sound off.

4. Building a Repertoire

Once you master the basics, keep your skills sharp by building a repertoire of your favorite songs. The more songs you practice with various genres such as jazz, classical, rock and pop, the better you will become as a piano player. It also helps to take a voice lesson or two as well, especially if you are interested in singing along with your piano.

Easy Songs for New Piano Students

From jazz to classical, there are so many songs on the piano and if you are a beginner player it might be hard to choose what songs you want to learn. Besides the basic and cliche Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or Mary Had a Little Lamb, here are a few easy but nice ones to use as your starting point.

Fur Elise

Fur Elise is an all-time classic. With its distinctive tune, this song has been a favourite of many for hundreds of years. Despite it sounding rather difficult to play, it can actually be adapted for the beginner level as its melody is rather simply. After you get the basic notes down, you can level up by adding different notes here and there to enhance the arrangement.

old man looking at music sheets over keyboards

Let It Be

This classic pop song by The Beatles is a must-know for many people and is also great to learn if you want to play at sing-alongs with family and friends or play within a small band. The song's slow pace also makes it easier on your fingers, especially if you haven't yet perfected your techniques.

I'm Yours

This feel-good tune by Jason Mraz was originally written for the ukulele, but like almost all songs it can be easily adapted to be played on the piano. Although the tune is rather easy to master, the rhythm can be tricky and is a good exercise for mastering rhythms.

Tips on Performing in Public

When you reach a certain mastery level on the piano, you can test out your performing skills and share your talent with the masses. After all, music is all about sharing with others and learning to perform in front of a small or large crowd is a key part of your music education.

For many music students, they often have difficulty playing the piano in an unfamiliar place. For example, if you often practice in the comfort of your own home while sitting next to a wall, you'll feel out-of-place once you find a spotlight shining down on you as a live crowd breathes beneath you under the stage. This is why it's important to not only practice your musical talent in one setting and is also a reason why rehearsals exist. Try making the most out of any rehearsal time you get by familiarizing yourself with the performance stage as well as the atmosphere and feel of being under the spotlight.

Other feelings you will experience while playing in front of an audience are likely fear and nervousness. Often the fear is triggered by the thought of messing up a song and therefore humiliating yourself in public. The nervousness may come from not knowing the piece well enough or not feeling practised enough. One trick is to always practice until you are 120% ready and know the song inside out. That way, when you experience a 20% decrease in skills due to the fear and nervousness, you still have 100% left to perform.

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Former high-school tutor with a passion for science and technology, I now work in the software industry and enjoy reading and learning about all kinds of topics.