It's not easy when you learn piano. Even before you start, you have to be motivated and ready to put your heart and soul into it. Even with the help of a piano teacher, learning how to play piano is a long and hard process.

You need to study regularly in order to become a piano player and even then you need to keep practicing to make sure you never forget it. Don’t get discouraged or skip any of the steps. Learning music is unforgiving.

You need to learn how to read music and then study music theory. After that you need to work on your dexterity and using your hands independently of one another. Reading sheet music like a book, improvising, and playing and singing at the same time are all things that come after years of practicing.

Here’s some advice your becoming a pianist and playing the piano well.

When Should I Practice Playing the Piano?

In order to progress with your learning, there’s a few things you’ll need:

  • free time

  • motivation

  • willingness

  • discipline

  • a good ear

How often should I practice piano?
You should practice at least 30 minutes each day. (Source: Crazy Banana)

A tutor will provide their student with a method to help them progress during a lesson. However, they can't constantly look over their student’s shoulder outside of class. This means that the student needs to practice on their own.

How often should a student work individually on their piano exercises?

It takes regular practice to learn how to play the piano: playing for three hours once in a while or just before your lessons isn’t enough to improve and will probably render your piano lessons near me ineffective. You need to focus and memorize things.

You could say that you should practice the piano whenever you want. This might sound a bit like a cliché but you should play whenever you feel like playing. Just make sure when you do that it’s effective practice and not just messing around.

Doing two hours of practice before your tutorials is a quick way to slow down your progress. It’s essential to put aside some time every day to practice playing the piano. At least half an hour a day should be enough. Making sure that you practice a certain piece means that you’ll have to stop doing whatever you were doing instead.

What if you can’t read the piece from your last piano lesson? Have a look on-line for tutorials. There are plenty of free piano lessons on-line and video tutorials that could help. A quick on-line search should get you the results you're looking for.

However, if you’re genuinely motivated and want to learn, you won’t feel like you’re giving up any time at all. We recommend thirty minutes of practice after dinner before you turn on the TV. This is when you tend to be at your most creative.

However, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone learns differently. You need to find the routine that works for you. Some people learn more quickly than others. Some people may learn something in an hour while others may need four hours. It completely depends on your motivation.

However, there are some things than anyone wanting to become a pianist should know:

  • Practice should always be enjoyable.

  • You need to focus and activate your memory in order for any learning to be effective.

The more you practice, the more your fingers will separate and the easier you’ll find playing across several octaves. You’ll gain more and more dexterity.

How Can I Improve My Dexterity?

Improving their dexterity really annoys a number pianists. However, your private tutor can help you work on this.

When we say dexterity, we're talking about your ability to quickly and accurately navigate the keyboard with your hands, especially when the notes are fairly far apart.

How can I improve my dexterity?
Dexterity can improve how well you hit your piano targets. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

When you first start, your hands will probably be fairly stiff. The quickest way to improve your dexterity is to practice:

  • do exercises going up and down octaves.

  • learn to go from one chord to another quickly and fluidly.

  • do exercises to improve your finger span: flex your fingers.

  • play scales on the piano: start slowly and then get faster and faster

  • work on common chord progressions

  • get used to not looking at your fingers when you’re playing.

You’ll soon start to make more and more progress. These exercises will be hugely beneficial in the long-term, especially if you’d like to one day be able to sing and play at the same time, compose your own music, and become a skilled and well-rounded pianist in the process.

Once you feel comfortable playing your scales at relatively quick speed, start working on your coordination by playing sections with your left hand, then your right, and finally combing the two together. First slowly, then more quickly.

You should always practice your scales just before your lessons. First C major, then D major, etc. It’s good for warming up your fingers and mentally preparing your ear for music. Having a good knowledge of your scales is also great for improvising with other musicians.

A budding musician should master their scales in order to learn as quickly and as effectively as possible. Use piano methods: Hanon and Czerny exercises are great for warming up your fingers and getting better and putting chords together.

In order to improve your dexterity, you should regularly do these exercises. This will help you to play with precision and train your fingers to play the piano better. Every good pianist should be able to play chords and arpeggios precisely.

What’s the next step? Learning to play and sing at the same time.

How Can You Learn to Play the Piano and Sing at the Same Time?

Singing while playing piano is tricky. It’s basically playing two instruments at the same time and it's not easy.

How can you play the piano and sing at the same time?
Singing and playing at the same time may be difficult but it's not impossible. (Source: PeakPX)

Even a privately taught pianist can forget everything when they have to start singing.

To sing and play at the same time, you have to first master the piano part, then the singing part, then bring the two parts together. When bringing the two parts together, you need to both coordinate your two hands then synchronize them with your voice.

In the same way you coordinate your two hands when learning to play the piano, you’ll have to repeat the same process in order to sing while you play. It’s recommended that you start with a fairly simple song with a simple chord progression and no vocal gymnastics. Choose a song in common time (4/4) in C-major, for example.

You should also try playing the song while humming before you try singing along. This allows you to focus on the vocal melody and the piano part. This means you won’t get distracted by trying to remember the lyrics.

If you really want to learn to sing and play piano at the same time, you need to learn your source material inside out. You need to know every vocal nuance by heart.

To summarize, here are the key points for singing and playing piano at the same time:

  • Be patient, determined, and persevering.

  • Adopt a good posture for playing and singing.

  • Play the piano part and practice the singing part separately.

  • Choose a simple song.

  • Play the song while speaking (to see if you know it well enough).

  • Listen to the original song a lot.

  • Break down the lyrics into syllables.

  • Use a metronome or tap your foot to keep time.

More complex songs require more work. Perhaps you need to simplify the music itself.

Your private tutor should be able to help you with simplifying the piece.

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How Can You Simplify a Piano Piece?

It might be beneficial to simplify the piece in order to make it more playable on the piano.

How can you make a piano song easier?
Being able to simplify piano music is one of your most important tools. (Source: Tanner Randall)

Some songs are incredibly complex, unreadable, or contain substitutions (which are very common in jazz).

Simplifying a song by making it more playable on the piano is sometimes necessary if the person playing the piece doesn’t have the necessary level to play the song in all its complexity. This is much better than discouraging the pianist.

It’s also a good idea to listen to the song plenty of times before trying to simplify it. Make a note of the chords as you listen and play them on the piano. This practice will help you get to know the song much better than just listening to it.

Identify the chords, then practice the chord progression, starting off slowly and getting faster and faster until you’re playing at the same tempo as the song. You have to work out the main chords in order to pick apart a song.

Finding the root note of each chord is essential when it comes to analyzing a song. The pianist can then work out the chord’s harmonies and whether the chord is a major chord, minor chord, a fifth, seventh, etc. You need to be familiar with music theory in order to do this.

If you’ve been working on your dexterity, you should be able to put these chord progressions together yourself.

How Do You Compose a Piano Piece?

Here’s some advice for composing a piece for piano: Know your music theory and think creatively.

How can I compose a song for the piano?
To become a composer, you need to be inspired. (Source: pxhere)

Have a good technical ability: you can’t compose as a beginner. You need to know how to put chords together, their inversions, common rhythms, etc.

You also need to have a good knowledge of music, different genres and styles, etc. Be familiar with reading sheet music: reading sheet music like you would a book. You need to encourage imagination and creativity in order to compose a piece on piano. It’s difficult but also very rewarding.

Use a metronome to improve your rhythm. It might be annoying to listen to but it’ll ensure that you’re always in time. Make sure you know your time signatures. Is this going to be a waltz or a march?

Choose the right chords to work with the feel of your piece. Remember that minor chords tend to give a piece a melancholic feel. On the other hand, major chords feel optimistic and happy. You also need to think about the lyrics. Make sure the chords go well together: certain progression evoke certain feelings.

Once you’ve considered all this, you need to work out how you’re going to play it.

You can use the chords to focus on the the song’s rhythmic qualities. What about deconstructing the chords and playing them as arpeggios to give the song a more melodic quality.

Don’t forget to record your creations! Sometimes you’ll come up with nothing. However, sometimes you’ll stumble upon something amazing. You’d hate to forget what it was, right? With a microphone and a music program, you can start putting your ideas together and working on them. It’s always a good idea to record yourself when you’re improvising. Then you can listen back to it and write down what you did. Make sure your theory’s good.

Becoming a pianist is basically and long and difficult journey. However, this is what’s so beautiful about the piano. It’ll be worth it in the end!

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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, English tutor, and all-round language enthusiast.