When you are starting out learning piano, it’s not about what you play, but whether or not you practice it consistently and properly. In high school, my band director used to say “practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.”
Here at Stairway Pianos, we are extremely passionate about the instruments we work with everyday. Not only do we specialize in piano moving in Dallas, Texas, but we also each have a good amount of experience actually playing piano. I, myself, have played piano for about 20 years now, and have spent thousands of hours teaching myself to play quite proficiently. Many people will argue that you should always get formal training, and though that is the case during childhood, with the proper practice and training techniques anyone can teach themselves the basics. With enough practice, you should be able to teach yourself that pop song you so badly want to learn and show your friends in no time!
As a beginner, you might think a lower quality instrument would be enough to get you by, but boy would that be a mistake! Though it is true you do not need to spend a fortune on your very first piano, if you are buying a used piano it is extremely important to make sure it has been properly maintained and is in good enough working order to create a clear, quality tone when played. This is because, as a beginner, you will be playing fewer notes, and as you are training your ear during practice, it is best that the notes are clear and in tune. It is best to get a certified piano technician to evaluate the piano and make sure it is properly tuned. If you are in Dallas, please feel free to contact us for a free evaluation and/or tuning quote by our certified piano technician!
The most important thing when starting to teach yourself piano is consistency. Right from the beginning, establish a practice routine and stick to it! This routine can be as simple as you’d like, or as complex as you can handle; the key is to do it every single day. And if you can’t get to it one day, get right back to it the next!
So what should you actually be playing, you ask? Simple. Anything that involves using all five fingers on both hands, either simultaneously or at separate times, is a great start. The key here is simply developing basic coordination in the fingers and hand muscles. One of my favorite exercises to do is to pick any note, and place my thumb on it, then let the other four fingers lie on the other four white keys directly next to it.
Now, just play each note separately starting with the thumb, up to the pinky, and back down to the thumb. After you establish the pattern, introduce a metronome and follow the beat with each note, slowly going faster and faster. Feel free to use other more complex patterns as well. Mirror this exercise with the left hand as well.
After a few weeks of doing this exercise every day, you will notice a massive difference in how much control you feel over the piano. From here it’s all about picking different piano material you want to learn (YouTube is an amazing resource for beginners), start slowly with a metronome, focusing on playing it perfectly at slow tempos, and over time increasing the speed. This practice method applies at almost all levels of playing ubiquitously, and is the foundation to learning any new piano material.