Lots of people want to teach themselves piano.
To be fair, why wouldn’t they? The piano is one of the easiest and most satisfying instruments to learn.
But what many people don't know is the best way to learn piano. They have questions like:
This article is a comprehensive beginner's guide on how to teach yourself piano - we answer all of the questions and (as they say in infomercials) much, much more!
Let’s get into it!
Can I Teach Myself Piano?
The answer to this question is yes, you can. A widely diverse instrument, the piano can be learned in many ways. It’s a myth that you need to take lessons to get good. You might wonder, are lessons a good option? For the most part, yes. However, they aren’t for everyone. Some people excel with lessons, while others see very little improvement. Also, lessons are quite expensive, which can be a setback. Many people end up choosing self-teaching methods over lessons.
Can You Learn Piano on a Keyboard?
This is another popular question. The answer is also yes!
Many great pianists in the world today started on a keyboard. Now, I’m not talking about older pianists since keyboards are relatively new in the grand scheme. I’m talking about modern-aged pianists we see on YouTube and social media.
Keyboards also have numerous benefits over pianos, including being smaller, more portable, and easier to set up.
Difference Between Piano and Keyboard
The biggest difference between a piano and keyboard is the keys.
A majority of keyboards have non-weighted keys, which are much lighter. Many beginners fear they won’t be able to play the piano after practicing on a keyboard. Though these thoughts are understandable, they aren't actually very close to reality. If you learn on a keyboard, you might need some time to adjust when you switch to a real piano. But, believe it or not, this adjustment might not even take a whole day.
It’s essential to understand this: Not all keyboards have non-weighted keys. Lots of them have fully-weighted keys, just like a real piano. With a fully-weighted keyboard, you might not even have to adjust at all.
Nowadays, many keyboards have something called graded action. This action takes key realism to a whole new level. It mimics the natural feel of acoustic pianos, which have heavier keys on the lower end. So, if you learn the piano on a fully-weighted, graded keyboard, you’ll be in excellent shape. However, you’ll also be in good shape with a non-weighted keyboard. It will just take a little extra time to adjust to heavier keys, which is fine.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Piano?
Everyone learns at a different rate, but there’s a general consensus on how long it takes to learn the piano.
For most people, it takes at least 6 months to get to an intermediate level. But, some might get there quickly and others slowly.
It depends on how much effort you put into mastering the craft. If you practice several times a week mindfully, you’ll reach your goals quickly.
However, your journey will be a bit rockier if you're inactive for months at a time. The rarest approach is to practice every single day. Though this method can dramatically improve a player’s skill, it can also be too much and burn someone out.
Why Learn Piano?
Out of the many benefits of learning the piano, stress relief is a significant one. It’s one thing to listen to music, but it’s another to play it. Millions of people all over the world find relief in sitting down and playing their troubles away. As silly as it sounds, studies have shown that playing the piano improves mental health.
Another reason to learn the piano is because it’s one of the easiest instruments to learn. No other instrument has such a wide range of keys you can play at any time. Let’s take a look at the trumpet, for example. To make a single sound, a player has to combine several correct lip and breath techniques. That’s quite a lot of effort to play one note. My point is, a piano player only has to drop their finger on a key to produce the same note.
One last reason you should learn the piano is that it improves your physical health. It sharpens your motor skills, improves hand-eye coordination, and leads to finger independence. Also, studies have shown that music can increase immune response and lower blood pressure. If you’ve been around any experienced pianists, you may have noticed that they have strong hands and forearms. This extra strength is another neat benefit.
Best Keyboards To Learn Piano
Since there are endless keyboards on the market, it’s hard to decide which one is best for you. If you’re buying a keyboard for a kid, there are lots of excellent options.
Here are a few beginner keyboards for kids:
Here are some beginner keyboards suited more towards adults:
The majority of the keyboards I listed are very affordable and high quality. The main difference between kid and adult beginner keyboards is size.
Kids' keyboards don’t always need to have the full 88-keys. In fact, many of them have 61 or fewer keys. On the other side of the spectrum, adult beginner keyboards are larger, with up to 88 keys. Smaller and easy-to-use keyboards are usually the best choice for kids.
A final important point: to get the most out of your keyboard, make sure to clean it regularly!
Piano Music Theory
Now, we’ll take a deep dive into a realm called music theory. This term is frightening to many people's ears, as they view music theory as almost rocket science. However, it’s not as scary as it seems. And, if one takes small steps to learn the basics, they can learn a lot in no time. Before diving into intense music theory, let’s focus on this question: What are piano notes?
Though the piano has a bunch of notes, there are actually only 12 different ones. To learn the piano, you just need to know C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. If you count, that’s only 7 notes. Where are the other 5, though? The rest of the notes are black keys, and they fall under one of those 7 note names. For example, let’s say we’re playing C and D. In between them, there’s a black key. We can either call this note C# or Db. Though C# and Db are spelled differently, they’re still the same thing, basically.
Learning the 12 piano notes can take some time. But, you can speed up the process by doing some things. One of those things is scales. To get a good start, you might consider learning 1 to 2 scales a week. As you’re playing them, make sure you know the notes you’re playing. After a week or two, your mind will start automatically associating the note names. The ultimate goal of a beginner should be to learn all 12 major scales. Doing this is a sure proof way to get better. Once you know them, you’ll have a much greater understanding of the piano and music in general.
With a basic understanding of notes, a pianist can move onto intervals. What are intervals? An interval is the distance between any two notes. For example, the interval between F and G is a major 2nd. On the other hand, it's a perfect 4th between F and C. These intervals are essential because they’re a significant aspect of music language. An excellent musician can hear a song and figure out the intervals in their head if they've practiced the craft. Then, they can go to the piano and almost immediately play what they heard. This sounds nice, right? Interestingly, it doesn't take a prodigy to get to this level. It all has to do with learning all the intervals.
In general, intervals are between 1 and 13. It’s not too common to identify ones higher than that. The easiest way to learn them is through the major scale. Let’s take the C major scale. From the bottom to top, the intervals are as follows: major 2nd, major 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, natural 6th, and major 7th. These are the only intervals in a major scale, disregarding the music modes. But we’ll get into modes at a different time.
Moving along on our music theory journey, we come to chords. Chords can be simple and elegant or large and complex. They're what you hear when 3 or more notes are played at the same time. 3 simultaneous notes are called a triad. Let’s start with major and minor triads, the most common chords in all music. A major triad has the root, 3rd, and 5th. So, A C major triad has C, E, and G. Minor triads are almost the same, except they have a minor third. So, instead of C, E, and G, it is C, E-flat, and G. Many people associate major chords with happiness and minor ones with sadness. It’s interesting that one slightly different note makes such a big difference in mood.
Moving further, one step above major and minor chords are seventh chords. The main types are dominant 7ths and major 7ths. Both of them create an entirely different mood. C major 7th has the notes C, E, G, and B. However, C minor 7th has C, E-flat, G, and B-flat. At first, 7ths can be challenging to grasp for beginners. But, they come easier once a person understands the concept of major and minor.
Best Piano Music Theory Books
Getting a music theory book can be a great way to learn faster. Here is a list of some of the best books:
How To Learn Sheet Music
If you want to learn sheet music, there are many excellent techniques to try out. The first one involves practicing easy music consistently. For 2 to 3 times a week, you should go through easy sheet music at a slow tempo for around a half-hour. Gradually, you'll move on to harder and harder music.
Another technique is to look slightly ahead in the music as you play. Piano teachers recommend looking at least a measure ahead in the sheet music. This technique is difficult, and you may not master it for a long time. However, it’s a critical element in developing excellent sheet music skills.
How To Learn Piano By Yourself
So, how can you avoid lessons and learn on your own? Maybe you don’t have the budget or the patience to go through pre-planned material with a teacher. If that’s the case, don’t worry because there are endless ways to teach yourself.
Teaching Yourself Piano at Home
Learning from home can be an extremely effective endeavor. However, it won't be effective without a plan. Before you start, you should assess your goals and determine what you want to achieve. Maybe you want to learn your favorite songs, or maybe you want to impress other people. Both reasons are valid. It’s a fact that not everyone wants or needs to become a prodigious classical pianist. Getting to that point takes years of nonstop practice and dedication.
Let’s say you want to learn your favorite pop song. At home, one of the biggest resources for beginner pianists is YouTube. Among the endless piano tutorials, there’s bound to be your ideal learning style. It’s always best if a pianist includes some technique practice along with songs. It’s the songs that keep us motivated, and it’s the technique that makes us better. Merely searching for exercise videos can reap glorious benefits in the end.
Learning Piano Online
In addition to YouTube, there are many other online resources you can take advantage of. Some of them include Simply Piano, Flowkey, and PianoForAll. These programs have slight differences, but they all work towards creating a well-rounded pianist. It’s best to do some research on different programs before settling on one. I have several reviews of the top programs on my website that you can check out here: Best Online Piano Lessons.
Cheapest Way To Learn Piano
Without a doubt, the most affordable piano learning option is to teach yourself. It’s up to you whether you decide to use online programs. However, real piano lessons will always be the most expensive option. If you have the budget, they can indeed be a good choice. But if you don’t, you might benefit from self-teaching and online programs.
Learning Piano Without a Piano
Is it possible to learn the piano without owning one? you might wonder. The answer is yes and no. Without a piano, you can still learn music terms and note names. But, there is no way to legitimately improve your skills without owning one. Think of it like this: a surgeon can learn everything there is to know about human anatomy through a textbook. However, he or she won’t become skilled without performing actual surgeries. It’s the same concept with the piano, just a little less intense.
Learning Piano With Numbers
If you’re into math, you might enjoy learning the piano with numbers. The method centers around intervals. Instead of using the traditional interval method, you can assign each note a number. For example, C could be 1, C# could be 2, D could be 3, etc... This is a standard method that music theorists use to describe music patterns and intervals. In general, it’s a bit harder than learning the normal intervals. But, everyone is different, and who knows, you might enjoy it.
How To Learn To Play Piano with Both Hands
Learning to play with both hands is an admirable trait. When a pianist first starts playing, their hands don’t naturally work together. Developing this independence can be achieved by practicing very slowly. A rule of thumb is if you can’t play it, slow it down even more. At times, it might even be helpful to play each hand separately. It will be hard to play both hands simultaneously if you can’t do each one individually.
Learn To Improvise Piano
Improvisation is a beautiful way to free up your mind from all the constraints. But, how do you do it? And, how do you know if you can do it? It’s common for people to think they can’t improvise. However, everyone improvises every day. When you talk to someone at work or school, you don't pre-plan every word you say. Improv is the same thing, but with notes as the words. Yes, some people are naturally better at improv than others. But you’ll never know until you try it.
A great improv exercise is to play a simple chord progression. Don’t try to do anything fancy at first. Solidifying the chord changes is essential. Once you’re comfortable, you can start experimenting with improvised melodies. You might wonder, but what notes do I play? One of the easiest ways to begin improvising is by playing notes in the scale. Most simple chord progressions only use one scale. If you learn this scale, you can start experimenting with it over the chords. Improvising is one of the most freeing things a musician can do. So, if you haven’t tried it, you should give it a whirl.
How To Learn Piano Fast
To learn the piano fast, you need a plan. Nobody is stopping you but yourself. If you assess your goals and have determination, the sky is the limit. But, in terms of learning material, what’s best? Surprisingly, one of the fastest ways to learn is by teaching yourself. With a mix of online piano programs, YouTube videos, and free exercise books, you can quickly become a good pianist.
Learning To Play By Ear
Learning to play by ear is a bit more abstract than learning with sheet music. While some people have perfect pitch, most of us do not. So, it takes some time to develop a good ear. Something you can do to work on your ear is listening to a song each day and finding the notes on the piano. If you do this consistently, you’ll be surprised at how fast you can learn songs.
Learning Gospel Music By Ear
Learning gospel music by is ear is much like learning other genres by ear. Except, the chords are distinctively more complicated than average. It takes a well-trained ear to be able to hear gospel chords and play them back. If you want to get better at it, you should become familiar with 7th chords and chord extensions. When you listen to these large chords often, your ear will know what they are when you hear them.
Learning Piano For Kids
Kids have lots of potential when it comes to the piano. But, unfortunately, many of them stop playing or become uninterested at a young age. It’s difficult to know how to encourage kids in the right way. Usually, they don’t enjoy strict piano lessons at a young age. Many times, it’s helpful to buy them a piano with plenty of entertaining sounds. That way, they don't get bored with it.
What Age is Best To Learn Piano?
There isn’t an exact age that’s best to learn the piano. Great pianists can start at an early age or be late bloomers. Passion is a more significant factor than age. Anyone who’s passionate about music or the piano should learn it, regardless of their age.
How To Learn Piano as an Adult
Sometimes, adults become discouraged because they think it’s too late to learn the piano. But, they couldn’t be farther from the truth. Any adult who wants to learn the piano can do it just as easily as anyone else.
Adults should have a full-sized keyboard with weighted keys or an acoustic piano. It also never hurts to take piano lessons. Overall, the most crucial step is to make a minimal schedule. Lots of times, playing the piano is a stress-relieving after-work activity. Just like anyone else, adults should focus on learning their favorite songs and doing piano exercises.
Best Online Piano Lessons For Adults
How To Learn Jazz Piano
Jazz piano, like classical, takes a while to master. The learning process is much different than classical, however. In Jazz, there’s a much bigger focus on understanding chords, music theory, and improvisation. The best way to learn jazz piano is by practicing “standards.” Jazz Standards are classic songs that Jazz musicians have played for decades. Many of them have intricate harmonies and melodies. To teach yourself Jazz, you have to listen to it often. If you’ve always been a fan of it, your ear might be well trained. All you have to do is figure out how to play what you’re hearing.
You can take Jazz lessons online through several programs. If you want an actual teacher, you might enjoy TakeLessons. This website has thousands of certified teachers with countless subjects.
PDF’s are excellent online resources to help you learn Jazz. Here are some free ones:
Learn Classical Piano
Classical piano is on the opposite spectrum from Jazz. This genre focuses heavily on technique and sheet music. In other words, classical is planned, and Jazz is largely unplanned. If you want to learn Classical piano, you might want to consider getting a teacher. Though it’s not always necessary, they can help significantly with technique. If you don’t want a teacher, there are plenty of online classical piano lessons you can take.
Some of the best pieces Classical piano has to offer are anything by Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, and Chopin. These famous pianists created thousands of beautiful pieces that we still cherish today.
Learn Blues Piano
Believe it or not, Blues came before Jazz. The genre formed in the 1860’s through African work songs and field hollers. Since then, Blues has continued to be one of the most popular genres in the world.
Now, I’ll discuss learning the Blues. On the piano, the most significant aspect of this genre is the blues scale. Like the major scale, the blues scale can be played 12 different ways, starting on any key. This scale is closer to minor than major. Here are the intervals: 1, b3, 4, #4, 5, b7. If we’re playing the C blues scale, that’s C, Eb, F, F#, G, and Bb.
Most blues songs are based on a single blues scale. In terms of improvisation, this scale almost always works over the entire song, no matter the chords. This concept is what separates Blues and Jazz. In Jazz, the players focus more on playing different scales for each chord. But, in Blues, players tend to stick to this magical blues scale.
If you want to learn Blues piano, you should play along to 12-bar blues backing tracks. A majority of blues music is in 12-bar form, so this method isn’t merely an exercise. This form has a total of 3 chords. The two easiest blues keys to get started are C and F. No matter which one you choose, the first thing to do is learn the blues scale in that key. Once you know it, you can start improvising with it with the backing track.
Another option to learn the blues is to take online blues lessons. You can find them on various helpful websites, ranging from programs to live lessons.
Learn Gospel Piano
If you want to learn gospel piano, you can also use some excellent online resources. Some are in the form of lessons, PDF’s, and programs. In general, Gospel is closer to Blues than Jazz. It incorporates lots of blues runs and licks while staying away from complex jazz progressions. Also, A large portion of Gospel piano is playing with a band. There are many techniques one can learn to fit into a band setting more.
Learn To Play Hymns on Piano
The hymn-learning process is fairly straightforward. It all starts with a pianist's ability to read sheet music. Learning to read sheet music more of a marathon than a sprint. Without a doubt, the best readers developed their skills through consistent practice. How much practice do you need? you might ask. To become proficient enough to read hymns effortlessly, a pianist might have to practice at least 3 times a week for several months.
Best Songs To Learn on Piano
First Song To Learn on Piano
The first song you learn is truly your decision. In general, you should pick something doable. Lots of beginner pianists try to learn advanced songs right off the bat, which isn’t ideal. The reason is that doing so can cause a loss of motivation. If a starting pianist tries and fails too many times, they might lose their drive. This is why it’s usually best to start out at a reasonable difficulty. Fortunately, there are many versions of the same songs online, ranging from easy, medium, and hard.
Easiest Song To Learn on Piano
One of the easiest songs to learn on the piano is “Hot Cross Buns.” This tune has been around for centuries and has served as the first song for many musicians. Another easy song is Alouette, a French-Canadian song that many piano teachers recommend to students.
Easy Pop Songs To Learn on Piano
In reality, there is an easy version of nearly every pop song in the industry. But, some of the most popular piano songs are "A Thousand Miles," "Clocks," and "Piano Man." A few pop artists with pleasant piano songs are Coldplay, Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, and Bruno Mars. Songs by these artists have the most different piano versions, which is good. Due to the wide variety, you’ll be able to find the version you like the most.
Fun Songs To Learn
Here’s a list of some of the most fun songs to learn:
Cool Piano Songs To Learn
Many pianists agree that songs by Einaudi Ludovico are some of the coolest to play. Even if you haven’t heard of that name, you’ve almost definitely heard his piano music. Lots of it has been featured in national T.V. commercials. So, if you want to learn something cool, you might check him out.
Beautiful Songs To Learn
The world is full of beautiful piano songs. In fact, calm and beautiful piano music is one of the most popular piano genres today. You can find lots of pretty piano music under the Classical and Modern Classical genres. Here’s a list of calming and pretty piano songs:
Best Books To Learn Piano
Best Learn To Play DVD’s
If you’re a visual learner, you might enjoy piano learning DVD’s. There are full courses, style courses, and other specific piano guides available. Here are some popular piano learning DVD’s:
Learn Piano Near Me
Lots of times, the best way to learn the piano is with a teacher. While online resources are excellent, in-person teachers can be just as good. However, piano lessons are the most expensive way to learn. The average cost for an hour of lessons is $60. So, let’s say you take 40 piano lessons in one year. The total cost for that year would be $2,400. Undoubtedly, piano lessons are for those with some extra money to spend.
Finding the right teacher is essential for your piano journey. Right off the bat, there are several ways to tell if a teacher is good or not. The first indicator is whether they create a specialized plan. Unfortunately, some teachers put students on the same plan, regardless of the individual skill level. Ideally, a teacher should make a specific plan for each person. Another factor to consider is the cost. Some piano teachers charge as low as $40 an hour, while others as much as $100. Realistically, if you choose the most affordable instructor, you might not get much in return. In the end, the goal is to find a teacher you connect with who charges a reasonable price.
Where can one find piano lessons? you might ask. Piano lessons can either be private or in an institution. Some instructors have home studios where they teach lessons. So, you might try going to a local music store and seeing if they offer lessons. If not, you can always contact private teachers online and go from there.
Learning the piano is one of the most rewarding processes a musician can undergo. It’s much like life in the sense that there are countless paths a person can take to learn and move forward. Those who learn the instrument tend to reap many health benefits. Some of these benefits include stress relief, hand-eye coordination, finger strength, and improved memory.
The first thing a beginner pianist should do is assess their goals.
Depending on what you want to achieve, your path will be different. For example, a Classical pianist will focus heavily on sheet music and technique. On the other hand, a Jazz pianist will put more emphasis on harmonic knowledge and improvisation. If you want to be a blues pianist, you'll be spending lots of time with 7th chords and the blues scale.
Regardless of genre, the internet is full of amazing resources all pianists can use to get better. Programs like FlowKey, Simply Piano, Playground Sessions, and Piano For All are excellent choices. You should also take advantage of free YouTube tutorials and lessons. In truth, a person can become an exceptional pianist without ever having to take traditional piano lessons. Advancements in the internet and technology have made it much simpler to learn music. If you want to learn the piano, there’s never been a better time than now.