If you’re looking to learn how to play piano, you must know that it is one of the most incredible instruments of all time. It’s even featured in several famous movies. From La La Land to Casablanca, we’ve seen some iconic scenes thanks to the piano. But that’s not all. Pianos have also inspired musical geniuses like Mozart, Martha Argerich, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Clara Schumann, to name a few. 

Do you envision playing the piano in a concert? Or do you simply want to connect to music through this beautiful instrument? No matter your goals, as a beginner, it’s important that you first learn the basics. 

This article will give you all the steps to follow to learn to play the piano. 

Get Familiar With the Keys.

The first step in learning how to play the piano is understanding the instrument itself. 

You need to get familiar with the keys or keyboard, and there are visual guides to show you the notes of each key. You will move left to right when you want to move from a low note to a high note on a piano. 

Another easy way of remembering the notes is by marking the central C. The middle C is your orientation or main point. Once you’ve figured the middle C on your keyboard, mark it by placing your right thumb on it. From this key, assign one finger to the rest of the keys moving from left to right. These are your keys D, E, F, G in alphabetical order. 

As you practice, you’ll become more familiar with your keyboard and figure out the best way to learn piano to suit your specific learning style. 

Learn to Read the Sheet Music

The sheet music for piano is the written communication of how to play the piano. As a piano player, you need to read sheet music to play and practice songs. For beginners, learning to ‘read’ music is essential.

Musical notation

Music is a worldwide language, and composers write down specific symbols for others to play a piece of their work. These instructions are called musical notations. 

Notation basics

Staff

The staff notation is the most important one in piano music. It consists of two staves of five lines and four spaces, connected by a brace.

Notes

Notes like the whole note, half note, and quarter note are placed on different locations of the staff to make music. Notes are read from left to right. 

Chord notation

After you’ve learned the musical notes, the next step is to understand the chords of musical pieces for beginners. Your familiarity with chord notation will help you when you start taking lessons on how to play the piano.

A chord is a group of multiple notes played together in harmony. In some cases, full notations are not always needed or necessary, especially when it comes to pop or jazz. Instead, you may have to follow chords. Chords create harmony and have a naming system that lets you know which notes are included. 

Follow the Right Technique

Playing the piano is a lot more than hitting the right keys. It needs the correct body posture and hand placements to make harmonious music. An incorrect technique will only amp up the pressure on your body, making piano playing difficult. 

Bench position

Learning how to play piano starts with your bench position. What bench or chair you sit on doesn’t matter if it’s comfortable and at the right height. It also needs to be solid, not overly comfy. For children who are growing, getting an adjustable stool, chair, or bench is preferable. 

Your bench must be placed parallel to the piano and at a distance that lets you play effectively. At this distance, you can reach all the keys comfortably. In addition, since some pianos also have pedals, your placement on the chair should let you move your feet on the pedals properly. 

Body position

Your elbows must be either parallel to or higher than the keyboard. To achieve this position, you may need to adjust the height of your seat. 

If your bench or stool is still low, you can add some height by placing a carpet, mat, or sturdy book underneath as long as it’s firm. Your feet should be placed flat on the ground to allow movement when using pedals. If your feet don’t reach the floor, add height by using mats, carpets, or books. Keeping your knees at a ninety-degree angle is preferred. 

Upper body position 

The best way to learn piano is when your back is in an upright position. This allows you to control your body and apply the right amount of pressure. The shoulders should stay relaxed. Don’t strain your neck by looking down at the keys all the time. 

Fingers should be placed parallel to the keys with a slight curl, and elbows should be bent outward slightly. Your elbows move along with your fingers as you reach for different keys. So, please don’t keep them too close to the keys. Your wrist must be kept loose to allow fluid motions. 

Buy a piano that you love

Once you have most of your basics down, the next step is to choose a piano. You’re favorite may be costly. But don’t worry if you can’t afford one of those because there are suitable alternatives. 

Digital keyboard

Also known as the electric keyboard, this is the most affordable option. It has the keys of a traditional piano but is encased in a much smaller body, making it portable. It also comes fitted with a built-in speaker and headphones. 

These require minimal upkeep. Plus, there is a range of sounds available — pianos, organs, strings, and more. While the musical experience and sound quality aren’t the same as a conventional piano, it lets beginners understand how to learn piano. 

Digital Piano

A costlier but better option is the digital piano. It’s a combination of a digital keyboard and traditional piano — and offers the convenience of the digital keyboard with the feeling of playing a conventional one. 

It may not be easily portable, but it also has a range of sounds available. Unlike digital keyboards, it comes with a complete set of 88 keys. In addition, it can be connected to a digital device like a computer or laptop so you can record your music and use online resources to learn how to play piano. 

Acoustic piano

For most piano players, this is the ultimate dream. It’s called an acoustic piano because the music is created entirely through physical parts. No amplifiers, speakers, or computers are involved. 

It’s the most expensive piano to purchase and maintain. It’s not portable and needs regular tuning plus upkeep. Because acoustic pianos are large, size and placement also become an issue. High-quality acoustic pianos are a piano lover’s dream, but there are vintage and cheaper options available. 

Develop a practice routine

“Practice makes perfect” is a saying that goes a long way in learning how to play piano. And while it can seem intimidating at first, it transforms into an unparalleled experience as time moves on. Developing good practice habits right from the start will make piano lessons a delightful experience. 

Here are some practice-related questions that you may have before jumping into playing the piano:

  • How often should you practice?

To make it a habit, it’s advisable to practice every day. It doesn’t have to take hours. You could simply take 15-30 minutes for each practice session. 

  • When is the best time to practice?

It depends on you. You can practice in the mornings if it keeps you active for the rest of the day or any other time that you can fit in your schedule. 

  • How long will it take to learn to play piano?

This depends on the time you commit to it and your interest. Plus, if you’re a fast learner or have a natural penchant for music, chances are you’ll learn faster. If you want to master the art, it could take anywhere between ten to fifteen years. For someone taking it up as a hobby, you could learn within three to five years (or less). 

Benefit of an Online Piano Course

Consider taking up an online course on how to learn piano. Here are some benefits to learning the piano online:

  1. Convenience

Learning in the comfort of your home makes you feel less anxious and helps you develop confidence over time. You can also play on your piano, not practicing on someone else’s instrument, which generally happens in an in-person class. 

Plus, parents don’t have to be worried about getting a private tutor to come into their home. Online lessons can offer the best of both worlds for parents and children alike. 

  1. Choice of instructors

You can choose from a wide selection of tutors, and there’s no need to stick with a local tutor. Through online courses, you can learn from experts and internationally renowned music instructors. They can teach you new techniques on how to play piano. 

  1. Focused lessons

Piano lessons online are more focused. They have a fixed curriculum, so no distractions come into play. Doing away with chatting every five or ten minutes increases productive learning. Online courses make learners more focused and self-disciplined.

  1. Flexibility

Children can learn anytime, anywhere. They don’t need to worry about not reaching music class because of traffic or bad weather conditions. Nor do parents have to schedule vacations around class timings. Through online courses, you can learn how to play piano with more flexibility. 

  1. Tech-enabled learning

Learning through an online course pushes you to introduce yourself to technology. In the future, digital literacy will become an invaluable skill. Embracing tech-enabled learning at a young age helps you use technology and digital devices to enrich the experience. 

  1. Affordability

Online courses are more affordable than in-person ones. There are no traveling costs, and course fees are lower since there are no overheads for the instructors. It doesn’t just save time for kids, but also parents.

  1. Accessibility 

For specially-abled children, several online lessons on how to play piano cater to their needs. These courses focus on overall learning through a musical medium. As a result, children can develop their creativity. Also, music is known to have a calming effect which works wonderfully well for those children who have anxiety. 

  1. Progress tracking

Online music programs track learner progress in real-time. They can also provide progress reports over a certain period. Students can also go back and view recordings of their sessions, helping them to learn from mistakes and continue improving. 

  1. Community learning

Online courses offer discussion and chat forums where students can connect. There are no geographical boundaries over the internet, and students can talk to other students from different cultural backgrounds about how to play piano. They can also discuss musical interests and can form future collaborations. 

There, you have it. All the steps to get you started with learning the piano. Do you know of any more that can help? 

About BYJU’S FutureSchool Music Program

BYJU’S FutureSchool’s music curriculum was developed to empower the next generation of piano players. It introduces children to the wondrous world of music and instills them with a passion that will last a lifetime. Through research-based teaching methods that range from live sessions to one-to-one challenges to interactive projects, kids learn to unleash their musical creativity in a fun and nurturing environment.

About the Author

More than just Coding and Math! Our proprietary, activity-based curriculum with live, real-time instruction facilitates: Problem Solving. Creative Thinking. Grit. Confidence. Communication