For many people interested in playing the piano, you will face the dilemma of whether to teach yourself or pay for piano lessons. When faced with this particular dilemma, the biggest question is whether you can learn piano by yourself.
In a nutshell, yes you can. With determination, perseverance, and eagerness to learn, you can learn anything. Luckily, there is plenty of free or cheap material for you to use to learn piano with. As such, you simply need a lot of determination and eventually, you will be playing the piano proficiently.
In this guide, we will look at the various steps I consider must-follow in helping you learn piano by yourself at your own pace.
Step #1. Invest In Your Own Piano Or Keyboard
To learn piano by yourself, you need to invest in the instrument you will play. This means you must purchase a piano. This is especially the case if you do not have one in your home and no family member or friend owns to lend or give you access to practice with.
Generally, you can go for an acoustic piano or a keyboard. The acoustic piano can either be a grand piano, baby grand, or an upright piano. These three pianos are known as acoustic pianos as they generate sound through 88 keys.
The best of the bunch is the grand piano, especially those designed for concerts. However, concert grand pianos can cost as much $10,000. This might prove to be too expensive of a cost to bear.
If you are interested in investing in an acoustic piano, you can opt for the baby grand or the upright piano. These two types of piano cost from $2,000 but they are vastly cheaper than the grand piano.
However, if this cost is still too much for you, a keyboard or digital piano will suffice. There are plenty of high-quality keyboards with 88 keys that start at around $200.
If you choose to purchase an acoustic piano, the first order of business should be to tune your piano. Acoustic pianos need regular tuning to be playable. While this may seem like a downside, I believe it helps you train your ears to hear the piano notes correctly. As such, tuning your piano in itself is a lesson to understanding the piano and learning how to play it.
A keyboard produces sound digitally and, therefore, does not need any tuning.
Step #2. Learn The Major Keys And Tones
After getting your piano or keyboard and setting it up, the next step is to learn about the major keys, chief among them the middle C. The middle C is a great place to start if you are a self-taught piano novice. It is considered as the home base and where you can start to play all your pieces.
The middle C is located just to the left of a grouping of two black keys around the middle section the keyboards. Having identified the middle C, identifying other keys is easier. For instance, the next white note to the right is the D note and the next right white note after the D note is the E note. You can play the ‘Mary had a little lamb’ by pressing E, D, C.
Having identified some notes, you next need to learn the different tones. This includes learning about middle tones, the flat tones, the sharp tones, the bass tones, and high tones. Keep playing these tones until you learn about their difference.
Step #3. Learn About Chords
Songs are comprised of varying chords (multiple notes played at the same time). As such, it is important for you to learn how to identify and differentiate the notes that make up the chords. You can start by studying the basic chords and playing the chords. In the same light, it is important to understand succession – playing different notes in succession.
There are plenty of self-help resources and tutorials that cover the subject matter of piano chords. Such resources include books, articles, and YouTube videos. Use them until you grasp chords and chord progression or succession.
Step #4. Focus On The Patterns/ Chord Progression
Music is pattern based. As such, after learning to identify chords, you should learn how to identify the patterns or how the various chords progress throughout the music. Focusing on progression will make it easier to play music. This part of your learning process will enable you to learn how to combine chords. Eventually, you will learn about baselines and melodies. This in itself is a valuable skill to have. Importantly, though, it will enable you to learn how to play songs better.
Step #5. Learn About Finger Placement And Finger Exercises
Aside from knowing where the notes are located, it is important to know how to play the notes with the correct fingers. When you start to get the grip of playing the piano, you need to learn how to play well right. As such, exercise to build muscle memory and finger speed. Moreover, the exercises will improve your finger accuracy and strength, all of which improves your overall piano skills.
Step #6. Learn How To Read Music
All the steps I have outlined above focus on helping you learn piano based on hearing. To progress, you should learn how to read music sheet, and therefore, play the music therein. However, reading music is not straightforward. There are very many lessons you need to learn including time signatures, counting, types of rests and notes, and much more. For this part of your learning piano journey, I’ve found the multimedia resources such as YouTube videos and DVDs to be better resources.
Step #7. Practice, Practice, Practice
Once you have gained all the basic knowledge you need, practice a lot. There is always something you can improve. Start off by trying to turn your weakness into your strength. Thereafter, look into ways you can challenge yourself. Pushing yourself will push your boundaries and improve your skills.
While practicing, try and experiment, curiosity will inherently improve your piano skill, making your progression much easier.