If I had to choose one word for how to begin playing the piano, it would be “slowly.” In our fast paced daily lifestyles, we tend to forget about our roots. We weren’t made to be switching from task to task each time we blink. We were made to enjoy the present moment, completely focused on the task or activity on hand.
One of the greatest benefits of piano lessons is that they force us to focus. By focusing, we end up clearing our mind of nagging voices, and building the muscle that allows us to be present.
So, I hate to break it to you, but there is no fast way of learning how to really play the piano. Sure, you can find countless videos on YouTube about how to play this piece or that song within minutes, but are we really learning how to play the piano or are we learning how to play that ONE piece/song? As a beginner and even an intermediate, you can learn many pieces by rote; that is, copying what you see on screen over and over, yet this does not give you any lasting piano skills.
Simply put, the best way to learn how to play the piano is by beginning slowly, starting with the basics. The fundamentals will never lead you astray. Make sure you are getting a solid foundation before delving into your favorite music.
Where to Start
Start with a basic understanding of rhythm. I promise you that your sight reading will not progress until you understand the basics of rhythm and note values. An excellent starter book I use is Robert Starer’s Basic Rhythmic Training.
Begin learning basic theory. I like Julie McIntosh Johnson’s Basics of Keyboard Theory. I recommend either the Preparatory Level for true beginners, or Level 1 for those who may have been exposed to some music or theory in the past. If you begin with Level 1 and have questions, don’t hesitate to pick up the Preparatory Level and complete that before heading on to Level 1.
Begin sight reading. I highly discourage trying to do this on your own. This is where hiring a professional piano teacher or starting an online program comes in. You can begin my 90-minute Sight-Reading Solution for free by clicking HERE. With such a new understanding of rhythm and theory, I would not recommend for any beginner to tread these waters solo. The beginning is possibly the most important part of your musical journey, and your progress literally is dependent on how well you build your foundation. If your budget is tight, hire a teacher just for a couple months and let them know you’re looking to build a solid foundation. Don’t be tempted to have them teach you one piece or song. The investment will be well worth it in the long run. If you're really not looking to spend too much money, I highly recommend enrolling in The Sight-Reading Solution HERE.
A word of encouragement: This is not about playing Mozart within two months. This is about appreciating every step of your journey as a unique musician and enjoying the simplest of the simple pieces until we eventually progress to the pieces we dream of playing.
The bottom line? The best way to learn how to play the piano is by beginning with the basics. I’d love to hear how you’re going about beginning your musical journey, so feel free to contact me. Good luck in your endeavors!