"The piano keys are black and white, but they sound like a million colours in your mind." -Maria Cristina Mena
In a survey recently conducted, 3 out of 4 British citizens are left so stressed that they feel unable to cope with their daily lives.
Anxiety, stress and worry, what can remedy these negative feelings?
Music has been proven to reduce stress and calm the soul. In particular, sitting down to play the piano has the power to soothe and release the tensions of the day.
The piano is absolutely beautiful to listen to because it is very melodious. Being of the most complex instruments, learning to play the piano requires perseverance, regularity and velocity.
Learning to play the piano is worth the earnest effort because every time you sit down and touch those keys it brings you to another place and makes you forget all of your troubles.
Therefore, where can I take piano lessons to learn how to play and acquire a love of playing?
Learn How to Play the Piano in an Association
A music association is a great place to learn the piano. The positive atmosphere will make you want to progress more rapidly.
Associations offer quality piano lessons with techniques and teaching skills that are somewhat different from the classic method. The music teachers at associations largely focus on listening to the rhythm and discovering different elements of the instrument rather than paying primary attention learning music theory.
What's great about associations is that learning to play the piano is open to everyone.
There is no previous playing experience required. You do not need to be at a certain level to incorporate yourself into a piano school.
The 2 main advantages of associations are their acceptance and openness to all and the extremely relaxed atmosphere.
The piano teachers at associations do not necessarily have the same classical training as those who teach in music schools or conservatories. However, regular monitoring will be provided.
Before registering at a piano association, it is highly advisable to attend the trial classes and test the pedagogical side of the piano teacher and see how many students will be present during the lessons.
This will give you a feel for future classes. This is important for a beginner because you need to feel comfortable and inspired to learn more. Also, it will be much easier for the piano teacher to correctly monitor classes if there are fewer students.
Another great advantage of attending classes at an association is the price difference for lessons. The costs are much more affordable than if you attended a private music school.
Conservatoires offer reasonable prices as well, however, the music selected during classes is very difficult and very few adult beginners can keep up with the pace.
Be attentive to your progress during your learning sessions and if you are bored and think you have passed a certain level, do not hesitate to change classes in order to continue to progress and not regress.
Attending a Piano School to Master the Instrument
Before being able to master Mozart's Turkish March, Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 or Beethoven's Letter to Elise, you need to have a tight grip of the piano basics.
Working on finger position exercises, arpeggio, improvisation, right and left-hand placement and position, learning new songs, memorizing piano notes and chords are all part of the basics for beginners.
The guidance you receive from attending a music school will prevent you from making mistakes and developing bad habits that are difficult to correct later on.
You might become Bach overnight, but practice will make you a fantastic piano player.
In a traditional more public music school, the music selection and teaching are different from an association. The teaching methods are far more traditional: you first learn music theory and then practice exercises and learn songs. The methods of learning may be more rigid and strict.
Music teachers at piano schools are highly educated with a lot of teaching practice. Their experience guides the piano playing beginner through the basic steps in a professional way. The apprentice will learn to read the notes and sheet music in the same way it is done at a reputable music conservatory.
On the other hand, in private music schools, you will follow a different type of pedagogy. These private schools are different and open to all. They do not accept students based on their past experience because their goal is to make learning piano accessible to all people.
The Yamaha, Martenot and Suzuki methods all highlight the listening and inventiveness of the students to become masters of their own learning.
Public music schools are more financially accessible than private ones. They receive some sort of subsidies from the local government which allows them to offer more attractive rates. Private schools, on the other hand, do not receive any funding so they are therefore free to charge what they wish.
Whether it is a public or private music school, the priority of lessons are usually given to children but some also offer courses for adult beginners It is very likely that you will find a piano instructor to show you the basics, you just need to look a bit more and find a school that suits your needs!
Learning Piano at a Music Conservatoire
Today we cannot solely mention the nation's only Conservatoire rather we now say the Conservatoires.
Indeed, there is a standout Conservatoire known as the nation's best, which is usually very renowned and difficult to integrate into, however, there are many other fantastic regional, departmental and municipal Conservatoires to choose from.
Attending a conservatoire is mostly for those who want to specialize in playing musical instruments and master their skills.
Within a Conservatoire, musical acquisition usually takes place under three parts or sections: music theory lessons, instrumental practice and collective practice.
Those who attend a Conservatoire to study music, aspire for a career in music. A recent statistic shows that 94% of those who graduate from a Conservatoire in the UK find employment in their field within only 6 months of graduating!
How long does studying last?
Like most Conservatoires in Europe, a Bachelor Degree, studying piano or another instrument, lasts 4 years. This is one year longer than a typical bachelor's degree from a University in the UK. Add an extra 2 years to receive a Masters Degree.
Many Conservatoires in the UK run Junior Departments, guiding students as young as 8 years of age on courses to develop and improve their musical skills. There are also Postgraduate diplomas that can be received after studying for 1 year.
There are quite a few Conservatoires offering piano lessons to adults who have already graduated.
Typical fees for students studying for an Undergraduate degree are £9,000 per year. Fees are different for international students and those who wish to earn a Masters degree.
In addition, Conservatoires are usually highly criticized for their strict and methodically teaching which can prevent artistic expression according to some.
The training is excellent and the teachers know exactly what they are doing but behind all that perfection, there are students who are bored during their piano lessons. These students would prefer to learn the music theory and piano keys in a more playful way to keep the passion for the instrument alive.
The Conservatoire is prestigious and grand but not for everyone. This is important to know before registering yourself or your children.
Is it Possible to Teach Yourself the Piano?
Some will argue that this idea is absolute nonsense while others will tell you to follow your dreams and go for it! I am not here to judge because if you want to learn to play the piano by yourself you have your own reasons and your motivation must be incredible!
The classical piano is known to be one of the most difficult instruments to learn. Equally as challenging as the violin, the clarinet and the saxophone.
Nevertheless, in all honesty, which musical instrument isn't difficult to master? If you thought learning an instrument was easy you should probably go ahead and pick a new hobby!
There are a few things to keep in mind when starting to teach yourself piano:
- The piano method we choose: find out what method you will choose, stick with it and then head to the music store to buy certain things that will accompany the method such as a music theory booklet and a book of simple sheet music to get started.
- Pay attention to your finger positions: when you start to play a new instrument it is very easy to adopt bad habits especially on piano fingering. There are numbers that correspond to where the fingers should be placed, on each specific key. Look up tutorials on Youtube if you are unsure at first.
- Working with a metronome: not just a fancy accessory to have on your mantle, it teaches rhythm. We may often think that rhythm is reserved for those who have a jazz piano, bass guitar or even a set of drums but that is not the case. From the beginning, you have to know how to count and play on rhythms in order to work on beats and compose a clean piece of music that grooves.
- Organizing yourself: as an autodidact, you will not only have to learn the basics of the piano but also prepare your own piano learning sessions and be attentive to your own mistakes so that you can correct them for next class and not make them a bad habit. You have to take full control here and that requires a lot of discipline!
- Positioning your arms and wrists: filming yourself is a good tip to make sure that you have good posture, positioning both hands correctly and to avoid pain in the back of the arms.
However, it is important to note that even with all that good will and determination, there will surely be a moment when you feel stagnant and not knowing where to good from there. When you are unsure about what to do and which direction to lead, this can harm progress and make you feel discouraged.
Before reaching this point, it may be a great idea to take some piano lessons from a qualified music teacher to get you motivated to play the piano again!
A piano teacher will reassure you of your progress and will give you new practical exercises to successfully advance in the right direction. During a piano lesson, they will also be able to check your posture, help you read music correctly, memorize new melodies and alert you of mistakes you are making on the keyboard.
Finally, learning an instrument is fun, so make yourself happy and play songs that you enjoy!
Definitions for Learning the Piano
Debussy, Liszt, Satie, Schubert...learning more about acclaimed pianists will improve your musical culture. It is also important to dedicate time to learning more music vocabulary while playing the piano.
What is a harmonic?
It is the sound of natural resonance produced by the vibrations of a string or column of air. For example, on a stringed instrument, it is the sound obtained from a note other than that given by the empty string.
What is ragtime?
It is a musical genre known by a syncopated melodic line. Considered to have been a predecessor of jazz music and is mainly associated with the piano.