The piano is a unique, interesting and fun instrument to play. You may think it's impossible to become a good pianist without years of expensive music lessons, but that's not always the case. If you know the notes, the keys, the chords and practice a lot, you can learn how to play the piano on your own.
Part 1 of 3: Playing by Ear
Step 1. Find a piano or keyboard to practice on
If you don't have one of these tools at home, you can borrow them from a friend. The piano is preferable because the sound generated by the plucked strings is authentic and because it has all 88 keys, as opposed to the keyboard. Keep the following factors in mind when making your choice.
- Pianos are much more expensive than keyboards, but you can rent them in some instrument shops.
- You will need to tune the piano if it is an old or vintage model, so as not to accustom the ear to incorrect sounds. Old pianos often lose their tuning, especially if they have not been played regularly. So if your instrument has been in the dust for years, ask for the help of a professional tuner.
- If you can't find a piano, keyboards are great alternatives. They are inexpensive, never lose their tuning, offer many sounds and features to enhance your music. In addition, they are easy to carry and do not take up much space. For these reasons, they are perfect for a beginner; you can always start with a keyboard and move on to the piano later.
- Find a keyboard for beginners. The keys on these special instruments light up in the order you need to play them, to help you learn songs faster. They are often accompanied by books and videos that will help you learn music theory.
Step 2. Sit in front of your instrument and become familiar with it
Play it and find the middle notes, flats, sharps, low notes and high notes. Listen carefully to each sound and spot the differences. Keep practicing until you can make out all the notes.
Step 3. Learn the major keys
To be able to identify the sounds you hear, you will need to know the major keys. To make learning easier, some people assign numbers to notes. For example, 1 - Do; 2 - King; 3 - Mi; 4 - Fa; 5 - Sol; 6 - The; 7 - Yes; 8 - Su. Notice how 1 and 8 both represent a Do, but of different heights; Do paired with 1 is the central one.
- Once you have learned to associate numbers with notes, you can use them to identify songs. For example, Mary Had a Little Lamb has a Mi-Re-Do-Re-Mi-Mi-Mi progression, which you can represent as 3-2-1-2-3-3-3.
- If you don't have any background in music theory, you will have to proceed by trial and error.
Step 4. Learn the chords
The songs are mainly composed of chord variations. You will hear them in different keys, but they will be composed of the same notes and identifying them is essential for learning a song by ear. Therefore, learn to play the basic chords and play them on the piano, to become familiar with their sound and recognize them. So even if you don't remember the name of a chord, you will know what it sounds like. You should also be able to tell if a chord is low or high and, thanks to this information, locate it on the keyboard.
For example, the notes C, E and G make up a simple chord, which you should first recognize as C major
Step 5. Notice the repeating elements
All the songs are composed of musical patterns. Chords often repeat with a constant beat or rhythm. If you can identify the patterns you hear, it will be much easier to reproduce the songs you listen to. You will be able to learn which chords are related to others and this will help you understand how melodies and harmonic structures are built, which you will be able to replicate over time.
Step 6. Learn to sing with your mouth closed
This technique helps you remember or compose a song, which you can then repeat on the piano. Just hum the music, then sit at the piano and try to play it. When you know what the chords and notes should be, you should be able to repeat them by ear.
Step 7. Learn the correct finger position
To play right, you'll need to know which fingers to press the keys with. The best way to do this is to learn the fingering from a beginner's piano manual. Normally, each finger will be paired with a number. For example, the thumb is 1 and the little finger is 5. Thanks to these texts you will be able to learn which finger to play each note with.
Step 8. Practice
Listen to many songs, then try humming them and playing them on the piano. Alternatively, choose a song you like and try to play it by ear, using the techniques you have learned. Becoming a good pianist takes a lot of practice, so try to play at least three times a week.
Part 2 of 3: Learning the Basics of Piano
Step 1. Learn some basic piano information
This instrument has 88 keys. The white ones are called natural, because, when pressed, they produce a natural note. Black keys are called accidental, because they produce flat or sharp notes.
- There are seven natural notes on the keyboard: Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Si;
- There are five accidents per octave, which can be sharp or flat;
- Learn the left-hand and right-hand staff names: bass clef and treble clef.
Step 2. Use educational books
You don't have a teacher available, so these texts will need to be your guide. You will find many useful books in music stores and bookstores, which can accompany you step by step in learning the reading of scores, the simplest scales, the progression of chords, up to the performance of simple pieces.
Take advantage of multimedia tools like DVDs. You can also find many valuable resources on YouTube. If you learn better visually, these methods will help you, because you will be able to see a person playing a song correctly
Step 3. Study the notes
You will need to learn where they are on the piano, what their sound is and how they are written on the staff. To do this, you can write yourself some notes to help you. You could also buy some stickers to put on the keys of the piano to better recognize the notes, or buy some books for beginners that teach how to read music.
Familiarize yourself with the most common chords. Start with the major ones, then move on to the minor ones
Step 4. Learn correct finger placement
Use instructional texts to learn how to play notes. It is very important to do this with the right fingers. If you do not use the correct technique, you will not be able to play the scales.
Step 5. Practice playing the scales
It will help you become familiar with the notes and their sounds. If you are learning to read a score, playing while reading helps you to learn the position of the notes and their representation on the staff. Play the scales with one hand at a time, then use both.
Step 6. Learn some simple songs
Using the didactic texts at your disposal, follow the lessons. You will learn how to play simple songs and how to position your fingers correctly. Practicing with the easier songs will also help you remember where the notes are and read sheet music better. Start with a piece in C major. Then, move on to the minor keys, to get to know those too.
To learn a piece of music, first try playing the melody and bass line separately. When you can play both parts well, try playing them together
Step 7. Practice as much as possible
Learning to play the piano takes a lot of practice. Play while reading a score to improve your reading of music, fingering and playing. You should schedule at least 3-4 half-hour sessions per week. Do not move on to the next topic until you have mastered what you are dealing with.
Part 3 of 3: Hire a Teacher
Step 1. Look for a teacher
Taking piano lessons is the most expensive (but most effective) way to learn to play. A good teacher knows how to help beginners learn the basics of an instrument the right way. Thanks to him you can avoid bad habits that take a long time to correct.
- Ask your teacher for help on sheet music reading, fingering and playing;
- Ask your teacher to explain where the notes on the score and the piano are.
Step 2. Decide how often to see the teacher
Your goal is to learn how to play the piano on your own, so you don't want to see a professional too often. Meet with the teacher once a month to check your progress or ask questions about topics that are bothering you. For example, you might ask if you can play a song at the right tempo.
Step 3. Practice
Again, you will have to practice a lot to learn how to play. Many people who take piano lessons practice several times a week. So try to practice 2-3 times a week - or even every day if you prefer. Sessions should be at least 30 minutes long, but remember to also take the time to learn music theory and solfeggio. You won't need a keyboard to learn those topics better.
- As tempting as it may be, try not to play with the damper pedal down. This way, the sound will be clearer and you will notice errors more easily, which will help you improve.
- If you play another instrument with a different tuning (B b, E b or Fa), it would be useful to learn how to transpose the notes, so that you can play the songs you also know on the piano correctly. Tuning in Bb is probably the easiest, because the notes do not move very much: they must be transposed a maximum of one tone to the left, except for C and F, which end up respectively on the keys of B b and E b. On the Internet you will find many guides to learn how to transpose the tuning and, when you are able, a new world of possibilities opens up for you, because you can play any song on any instrument.
- Play the melody with your right hand and resist the urge to do it with both hands. It might help you sound better at first, but you will regret it if it becomes a bad habit that you have to forget.
- Use books and videos.