Piano success is attainable for every student of every age and ability. As a longtime piano teacher, I’ve been asked every question possible regarding piano lessons: Am I too old to begin? Is my son/daughter/grandchild too young too begin? Do I need a piano? A keyboard? Do I need to practice everyday? For how long? Can I teach myself? …And many more! In this article we’ll answer all of those questions, but we’ll do so by giving you 5 tips to help you attain piano success. These 5 tips represent the traits, qualities, and skills that are the mark of almost every great piano student. And great students eventually become great players!
Piano Success Tip #1: Routine
Age is almost never an indicator of piano success. I suppose there is a minimum age (perhaps 4 years old or so before formal lessons make sense) although introducing music to babies on any level is a great idea. I have never encountered a student who is too old to begin learning the piano.
A better indicator is the student’s commitment to a practice routine. This really should mean a daily commitment to practice for a minimum amount of time (perhaps 20-30 minutes per day – although more is going to get you to your goal faster). And “practice” really means working on new material that challenges your ability, as opposed to simply “playing” for your own enjoyment or songs that you already know.
Piano Success Tip #2: Tools
Do you need a piano? No. Keyboards are oftentimes just as good. But if you are using a keyboard it really should be one that has weighted keys, meaning it has the same feel as playing a real piano. You certainly can learn on other types of keyboards. But some students struggle when learning on a non-weighted keyboard and then moving to a real piano, often stating that the keys “feel too heavy.”
Piano Success Tip #3: Teachers
Well, a good teacher is a pretty essential element in your piano success. Here at HomeSchoolPiano we pride ourselves on being able to offer students video lessons that feature a real person with human explanations, not just a video that spits out midi displays and script. Our videos also allow you to see what the teacher is playing using our virtual keyboard, clearly highlighting and labeling every note. Our methodology is clear, calculated, and constructed in a way that allows you to assess your learning. These – we think – are the makings of the best teachers and piano instruction.
Piano Success Tip #4: Active Listening
The best students are those who listen – not just to their teachers (haha) but to music. Sounds easy, right? Well, active listening is more about thinking critically of what is being played in the music that you’re studying. When a student is learning a new piece of music, it helps tremendously to find a recording or video online and listen to specific details of the music – tempo, dynamics, articulations, phrasing, rhythms, texture, etc. By being familiar with the music you’re learning, you can become a very efficient practicer.
Piano Success Tip #5: Repertoire
This sort of goes best with Tip #3 because part of being a good teacher is giving students repertoire that is both stimulating and matches their needs. Students are developing technique and fundamental musicianship skills. A good teacher knows how to present material that is interesting to students but helps them acquire or hone a particular set of skills suited to their ability level.