Discover 10 reasons why you really do not need to know anything at all about playing the piano prior to starting out

No prior experience required

There are things we all wish we had started sooner. From learning a new language, taking up a new sport, or mastering a musical instrument – many adults simply don’t try to learn a new skill because they think they’re too old to start as a complete beginner now.

If you’ve been thinking about learning the piano but have been disheartened by a lack of prior experience, here’s the truth: you can start learning the piano at any age.

At the London Piano Institute, we pride ourselves on offering first-class tuition to adults with absolutely no prior experience necessary. Even if you’ve never touched the keys in your life, we can guide you through the steps you need to begin learning the piano, today. If you need more convincing, check out 10 reasons why the piano can be learned by anyone – no experience necessary!

Reason #1 Piano is a skill that simply needs to be learned

Like every new skill, to play the piano you first need to start from the beginning. You don’t need to remember past lessons or attempt to learn the basics by yourself – in fact, this is a sure-fire way to take up more of your time! Whether you are starting as a complete beginner or with a little experience, you still need to go through the same learning process to create the muscle memory need to play the instrument.

A person who learned piano as a child and has forgotten most of the technique is going to have little advantage over a complete beginner in adulthood. All you need to do is apply yourself to learning a new skill, and practice – no matter what age you are and at what level of experience.

Reason #2 – You already have the three most important skills: discipline, focus, and motivation

Adults have a huge advantage over children when it comes to learning the piano in that you are more likely to be at your class out of choice, rather than because your parents are forcing you to go! Beginners are therefore more disciplined with their lessons, more focused on learning, and far more likely to stick to a consistent practice schedule.

With this level of discipline and focus, even with no prior experience you should go from beginner to an experienced player with our expert guidance! (On the condition that you practice!)

Reason #3 – A structured course is perfect for total beginners

You don’t need experience to start learning the piano as an adult, but a structured piano course will do wonders for how quickly you develop your skills. Our piano instruction cuts no corners – you will receive a solid foundation that will take you from the very first introduction to playing the piano, to eventually learning more complicated compositions.

It will take time, but even with no prior experience we guarantee our courses alongside your motivation and regular practice will take you to the level you want to achieve.

Reason #4 – Starting your lessons with no prior experience guarantees better habits

Prior experience is not always a benefit – in fact, improper learning can actually cost you a lot more time and money in the long-run. Having the wrong teacher or trying to self-teach can be a quick way to develop bad habits that are difficult to re-learn. With no prior experience, you’re guaranteed to be taught perfect habits from the beginning with our highly trained teachers!

Reason #5 – Your teacher is a specialist with inexperienced adults

At the London Piano Institute, our lessons are designed specifically for adults. Learning as an adult is different to learning as a child, but our classes are designed to tackle this fact and overcome any obstacles you may face by learning at a later age with no experience.

Our teachers are trained to identify any problems you are having, and to work with you on these before moving on – ensuring you have the solid foundation in playing the piano you need before moving to more complicated lessons.

Reason #6 – Learning piano just needs practice and time

To master the piano, you need to practice repetitively. This helps to create muscle memory and will help the lessons and skills you’re learning really stick in your mind. While prior experience may make this muscle memory return a little quicker, someone without any previous experience is certainly capable of making the same progress – if not better!

Reason #7 – Adults are always capable of learning new skills

Our brains are capable of learning new things throughout the entirety of our lives – those neural connections may be a little slower as an adult, but they’re still perfectly capable of forming! Whether you’re 5 years old or 50, you can pick up the piano as a complete beginner and still make amazing progress with quality instruction.

If you’ve been putting off learning to play the piano because of a lack of experience, don’t let this stop you. Our teachers will guide you through every step, and make sure you’re comfortable with the speed you’re learning at, at all times.

Reason #8 – You can learn anywhere, anytime

Have you been meaning to pick the piano up, but can’t find a good teacher local to you? Well, now you have no excuse! We provide Skype and Facetime lessons that allow us to teach our students wherever they may be in the world. With classes specifically designed adult learners, you can start learning the piano today and be well on your way to gaining valuable experience in the instrument – even if you’re a total beginner.

Reason # 9 – Age can be an advantage

If you’ve got a genre in music that inspired you to start learning the piano, you may have an advantage even with no prior experience! It will surprise you how quickly you can identify tunes and even scales in well-loved songs, and even with no technical experience you may still find some elements of learning the piano familiar to you.

Reason #10 – Dedicated beginner lessons for adults

The London Piano Institute is one of the only schools that takes on students at any level of experience. Our teachers are trained to deliver dedicated instruction at whatever level and depth you need – so even if you’ve never touched a piano before, we’ve helped many others in the same situation develop the skills they need and to successfully learn to play the piano.

Whether you’re a complete beginner with no prior experience, or have had a few piano lessons in the past, at the London Piano Institute we pride ourselves on providing a quality piano instruction that will help you build a solid foundation of the instrument with great habits, and eventually move on to beautiful, more complex compositions.

No matter what level of experience you are at, our teachers are able to assess your needs and ensure you’re receiving the right tuition for you. Get in touch with us to book your first ever piano lesson today!

Find out more about our piano courses for absolute beginners

If you are ready to start and you want to learn how to play the piano with the correct technique, sound and posture – please do contact us here.

You can also visit the following pages to find out more:

» See our special message for absolute beginner piano students here

Your Piano Course

Woman performing the piano in front of an audience

Let’s be honest, performing the piano in front of a live audience can be daunting.

It takes courage and a fighting spirit to perform especially if you perform a difficult piano composition.

The truth is that performing the piano in front of an audience is as much a skill as learning the piano.

Just as you learn how to play the piano by taking lessons, you need to learn how to perform the piano in front of an audience by performing regularly.

The more regularly you perform, the easier performing will become for you.

The key is performing in front of an audience. You need to step out TAKE MASSIVE action and make yourself uncomfortable. (At least initially). 

Playing the piano requires extraordinary discipline. Practising your scales, arpeggios, sight-reading and developing your aural skill takes tremendous time and effort.

Often times one forgets that performing live is as much an art as the very act of playing the piano itself.

This is the reason why many people suffer when performing live. They forget it takes practise and repetition just like their piano playing!

The fact is performance is an art and a science. It’s an art as no two performance are ever the same and a science as there is a definite methodology to walking to the piano, sitting down, composing yourself and finally performing the piece. There are numerous techniques that one have to acquire in order to perform at your best. That is the scientific part!

When performing live, you are literally putting yourself under a tremendous amount of pressure, therefore:

-> You need to learn how to shut the audience out and focus on your instrument and the music.

-> You need to learn how to focus under pressure.

-> You need to learn to continue even when you make a few mistakes.

-> You need to excel on the stage!

In due time if you are faithful, you will reap the rewards of your hard work and eventually become less concerned about performing live.

It will take time for you to become the performer you want to become, but with dedication you will most certainly achieve your goals!

There is also an inner game going on inside of yourself, and you need to learn to let go of your critical voice and just focus on performing without judging yourself.

You will then perform in the zone!

Make sure you spend some time thinking about all the aspects of performance before performing again!

Here are a few tips for helping you perform better:

– Work on your psychology more than anything else – i.e. speak to yourself using positive affirmations. Listen to audio clips from Anthony Robbins or Brian Tracy!

– Make sure you REALLY know your material. If you know the score extremely well – you will be more confident. In fact to the degree that you DO NOT KNOW the score to that degree you will probably suffer on stage! Competence builds confidence…

– Dress for the occasion. If you are dressed up you will definitely perform better.

– Make sure you do a ‘dress rehearsal’ in front of a friendly audience before performing in front of the REAL life audience!

– You can perform live at pianos throughout London. We recommend the pianos at St Pancras International station. There you can perform your piece in front of a very friendly audience. (See: http://streetpianos.com/london2012/pianos/st-pancras-station/)

Also lastly, do not be too hard on yourself if you make mistakes.

You will make some for sure and it is a learning process.

Playing the piano is a journey not a destination… The secret is enjoying the journey!

Remember once again performing is as much an art as playing and it needs to be studied!

Ask your instructor to help you with tips and techniques to become a better performer.

In due time if you do not give up but persist, you will become the performer that you have always wanted to become.

Now is the time to take the first step and at least perform at that dress rehearsal!

May you succeed greatly in your piano performance.

If you work at it – SUCCESS IS YOURS!

Pianist

It starts with the first step…

The Chinese philosopher Laozi wisey said: “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

Learning how to play the piano is a wonderful journey, however it is not always an easy journey.

On the way to becoming the pianist that you have always dreamed of, you might encounter moments of intense frustration and despair.

It is all part of the journey and if you persist you will eventually reach your goal and the price that you have paid in terms of time and effort will be well worth it. You will reap a harvest of beautiful piano skills that will last forever and a day!

Your main endeavour as a student of the piano should be look for REAL shortcuts…

Shortcuts rarely exists in music EXCEPT for the shortcut of excellent tuition!

That is why it is absolutely imperative that you select a very good piano instructor who GENUINELY cares for your piano progress.

With an excellent piano instructor you will make much faster progress.

There are many aspects of piano playing that need an expert’s touch.

A single lesson with a master will simply transform your playing.

There is no way you can do this by yourself.

At least not without much effort and strain…

You simply need a top-notch piano instructor to reach your dream!

A great teacher will help you reach your dreams in a much shorter period of time.

He or she will simply help you to practise in an effective and serious manner and this will in turn lead to better habits and technique.

Immersing yourself in piano learning is simply the best thing you can do for your piano development.

False shortcuts such as learning from a YouTube video generally only leads to bad habits and sloppy technique. (Sure some ideas can be obtained from technology, but this should not be your foundation)

You need a DEEP foundation

A great architectural structure always, always has a wonderful foundation. Without a strong and solid foundation, a great building could crumble. A solid LASTING foundation is key to success in architecture as well as education.

That is simply why you MUST insist on learning the piano with an EXCELLENT piano instructor and take the time to research and find someone who can teach you the keys to playing this majestic instrument!

I can also remind you of the Japanese proverb that states: “the depth of the foundation determines the height of the wall”, and that is EXACTLY WHY you must insist on studying with an excellent piano instructor.

We can help you reach your piano dreams!

At the London Piano Institute we are proud to say that we offer excellent quality piano tuition focused specifically on developing great habits from the first day you start with us!

We do not take shortcuts, but teach you how to play properly. How to really read notes and become proficient at the instrument.

It is a fact that you also need to practise diligently, but with our combined efforts (your practise and our input), the sky is the limit.

Learn great secrets of this wonderful and majestic instrument in a short period of time.

Enjoy regular events and concerts and be a part of a select group of individuals who have decided to make the piano a serious endeavour.

London’s adult piano school welcomes you to a WONDERFUL, EXCITING WORLD OF PIANO!

Contact us today to book your first lesson – here

metronomeIf you follow the advice given in this article, you will definitely
see a marked improvement in your piano playing and your timing.”

Let’s face facts.

You are probably playing out of time a lot more than you like.

Your general timing may be good, but if you scrutinise your playing you will realise that your timing may not be as solid as you hope.

Playing a piece from beginning to the end with solid rhythm and timing can require a lot of metronomic study.

World-class pianists and musicians often state that timing (alongside improvisation and interpretation) is the most difficult aspect of music to master.

That may be the reason why a lot of beginner piano students initially dislike the metronome.

I certainly understand why.

However if you understand the reasoning behind using the metronome when you practice the piano, you will be much keener on practising regularly with a metronome.

According to Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”. Therefore by practising consistently with a metronome at a very slow pace , you will eventually play the piano on time to a large degree.

In order to play the piano well, you have to take care of your technique and sound. In addition to this you will need rhythmic command.

A lot of piano students fall short when it comes to timing, and that is exactly why I wrote the article. Hopefully this article will inspire you to improve your timing and your piano playing!

Here is what I would advise:

Practice with the metronome at 40 bpm

I often use this technique during my piano lessons to ensure that my students develop a solid feel for timing.

A lot of my methods may seem a little arduous at first, but sticking with them will guarantee a major improvement in your piano playing!

In fact, after a number of lessons  my students all love practising at 40 beats per minute. (Yes, I must be honest, I do occasionally hear a few grunts…)

By practising at 40 bpm you are basically teaching your internal clock to sync your playing at a super slow speed and that in turn trains you to play in time.

It definitely develops rhythmical discipline and strength in your piano playing.

A vital skill when it comes to taking your musicianship to the next level!

Develop your speed with the aid of your metronome

You can gradually work up passages in order to increase your speed.

Start at 40 bpm and work up to 160 beats per minute or more if you required.

This will help you develop a solid technique and it will increase your speed.

From time to time I do also advise to switch off the metronome and play at speeds far beyond your capabilities. (Make sure you are very relaxed whilst doing this and do take frequent breaks!)

Push the limits and play sloppy for a little while to feel what it is like to play at fast speeds.

After you have done this, get back to the metronome and clean it up!

This extreme speed technique is called “practising at bursts of speed”. It is there to give you the effects and feeling of practising with nervous muscles to play at lightning speeds. (Once again, only practice it for a very short while and take frequent breaks. Stay relaxed at all times. If you feel any fatigue in your muscles or hands definitely rest!)

Don’t tap your foot with the metronome – at least not initially…

If you find yourself tapping your foot to the metronome, you may have the feeling that your timing is improving, but this may not be the case.

Depending upon the style of music you play, tapping your foot can become a part of the expression. In jazz and popular piano playing, pianists often tap their foot alongside the beat as part of their expression.

However, when you perform a piece of Mozart’s music, tapping your foot may seem nice to you, but it can distract the audience from enjoying the piece.

If you do tap your foot to the metronome, you must remember that you are literally playing a second instrument with the piano.

You can easily have the impression that you play in time, yet your foot is tapping out of time with the metronome. (Try it, you will see what I mean!)

I always advise using your internal clock when playing with the beat. You’ve got an internal rhythm and you do not need to tap your foot with the beat to feel the beat.

If however you are at an advanced stage of playing the piano especially jazz or popular piano, and tapping your foot is part of your expression (and it does not distract you from good timing), feel free to do so!

Alternate your piano practice between practising with the metronome and practising without metronome!

Barry Green wrote in “The inner game of music” that one should practise in a strict disciplined manner as well as a more free creative manner.

I could not agree more.

I would recommend practising your chords, scales and arpeggios, as well as piano compositions with and without a metronome.

Your metronome will help you to develop good timing on the piano. However I also believe that it is important to be able to play from time to time without a metronome.

When you perform in front of an audience, you will not always have the luxury of having a metronome there, and you will have to feel the tempo within.

That is one of the reasons why I would definitely recommend practising both with and without a metronome.

That concludes my article on timing and using a metronome. Please do note that most piano students struggle with timing, so if you can tackle this issue, you will be so much further ahead than the rest of the pack! Yes, it’s not a competition, but you do want to go forward as fast as possible. So start loving your metronome it will reward richly over and over again!

 

For the most recommended metronome software for the musical adventurous amongst you, take a look at: http://bouncemetronome.com

You can also find a copy of the Barry Green’s excellent book below: ( a fantastic read by the way!)

Sight Reading

Like so many pianists who play for their own pleasure, you might think that your sight-reading is appalling and that you are terrible at it.To be honest, you don’t even want to speak about it!!!

 

I have a SIGNIFICANT REVELATION for you: sight-reading is not more complex or mysterious than anything else. You simply need to know and learn how to proceed to become “proficient in the art of sight-reading”.

Here are the 10 Secrets of Sight Reading

1. Firstly, have a look at the general idea of the score. You can quickly get a grasp of the difficulties that may occur while playing the piece and of the general layout of the piece. Then, look at the tempo, time signature, key, change of time signature/tempo. Basically mention everything that look peculiar to you. Once this is done, sing the beginning of the piece and/or the main melody to feel its style. The notation will also give you a fair idea of the general character of the piece.

2. Always plan to play slightly slower than the standard speed you think you may be able to play the piece, as you obviously do not want to take any risk and turn it into a shambles. Especially check the fastest rhythm and/or part of the piece to decide if you will be able to play it at the speed you have chosen to start it with. (There’s no point to play the composition at a speed that is too fast for you – especially when you practice your sight-reading)

3. You are now ready to play.

4. Behave as you know this piece extremely well already and think as you have already played it many times. It will give you a lot of confidence.

5. Always read well in advance in order to be prepared and never look back. You have played these notes, so there is no need to look back to check what you have done. It would only disturb what you are currently playing and especially what you are going to play next.

6. Always count (in your head) in order to keep things going.

7. Remember that you should NEVER stop playing. If it gets messy, it doesn’t matter, continue, look further and focus on the future notes you will have to play. Counting will help you to keep it together.

8. If you cannot control what you are playing, don’t play all the notes, just keep things going by playing only the bass, for example, or the first note of each beat. Do this until the score gets easier again.

9. Do exactly the same if a few difficult bars have been mentioned before the start. When you get to play them, don’t play them, but only a few critical notes of the harmony that are going to keep the flow.

10. And of course, always be musical and focus on the interpretation of the piece, rather than on the notes.

Reading A Music Score

Learning how to read the notes used in music notation is similar to learning a language. Some people say that they are not interested in learning how to read as they prefer to play by ear. (Some folks even go as far as thinking that it will be detrimental to their ears and improvisational skills if they learned how to read – nonsense!)

Not learning how to read the score properly, is one of the biggest mistake that you can make if you are starting to learn the piano.

Piano compositions are often only available in written notation. Therefore reading music is one of the foundations of learning the piano and it is pure lunacy to go without it. Even jazz musicians who spend a lot of time improvising, are still able to read any score in any key at all times! (At least the good ones!)

Obtaining a perfect knowledge of the vocabulary used in music is essential if you do not always want to struggle with your piano playing. (Reading music is an ESSENTIAL AND SERIOUS TOOL that will help you progress to the next level of your piano playing)

Even if you desire to play popular piano pieces and your primary focus is playing chords and improvising melodies, I would still recommend learning how to read. It will only enhance your musical abilities and never subtract from it. (The effort invested will always return a very positive musical skill – it’s worth it! – and YOU ARE WORTH IT!)

Not knowing what the notes are or having a vague idea about it will seriously hamper your music education and it will be very difficult to simply select your favourite score and sight read it there and then for your pleasure.

Struggling to read the notes will basically bar you from the privilege of learning more interesting tunes and will keep you imprisoned at a beginner-pianist level. (It is unbelievably frustrating not to be able to read properly and it becomes a serious hindrance spoiling your talent!)

Stage 1

! Do not try to learn all the notes at once or play pieces where you can find notes that you do not really know. (Keep within your circle of competence to start with)

Focus on only a few notes and learn how to read them away from the piano. Write music lines for yourselves, mix up all the notes and repeat this exercise on a daily basis until you feel at ease with the notes in question. Also DO NOT try to calculate the intervals on the score but learn all the notes for themselves.

Example:

Note Reading Exercise For Absolute Beginners

 

The notes in the example are written in the Treble Clef (G Clef) and will usually be played by your right hand. Please note that the Treble Clef is ALSO called the G Clef as the drawing starts on the G line (2nd line)

C, D, E, F, G – with the name under it.

Note that the C is written below the bar line. The D is written below the first line, the E in written on the first line, the F in between the first and the second line and the G on the second line.

Examples of lines to be written and read.

Step 1: Read C and D Only

  • Do not play the notes on the piano
  • Just SAY the names of the notes

Note Reading C and D

Step 2: Add E (to C & D)

  • Do not play the notes on the piano
  • Just SAY the names of the notes

Note reading: C,D,E

Step 3: Add F (to C,D & E)

  • Do not play the notes on the piano
  • Just SAY the names of the notes

Note Reading: C,D,E,F

Step 4: Add G (to C,D, E, F & G)

  • Do not play the notes on the piano
  • Just SAY the names of the notes

Note Reading: C,D,E,F,G

Keep reading these notes faster and faster until you know them extremely well. It’s important to know them WITHOUT calculating any sort of distance between the individual notes. The idea is to imprint the notes on your mind much like the letters ‘A’,’Z’,’X’ are imprinted in your mind!

At the same time make absolute certain that you learn and study composition that ONLY contain these 5 notes. (Obviously this article is aimed at absolute beginners and if you are able to read more notes, copy the examples above and make sure you READ the notes and do NOT calculate the distances between what you know and do not know!!!)

As a new piano enthusiast sitting in front of the black and white notes for the very first time, it can be quite a daunting experience!You will probably feel lost and slightly confused by the magnitude of the piano’s keyboard.
The most important thing to remember is that a piano has 7 white notes namely C,D,E,F,G,A,B and 5 black notes C#, D#, F#, G#, A# or Db, Eb, Gb, Ab, Bb (depending upon which key your in). Nevertheless there’s only 7 white plus 5 black which equals a total of 12 piano notes.

The next thing to notice is that the keys repeat again and again and again.

This diagram demonstrates how it works:

Diagram number 1 shows the 12 notes in total

 

nature-of-the-piano-keyboard-7-white-and-5-black-notes

Diagram number 2 demonstrates how this pattern keeps repeating over and over across the entire piano’s keyboard.

The-piano's-keyboard-just-keep-on-repeating

 

So in actual fact if you think about the nature of this wonderful instrument you will notice that it is a repeated keyboard designed to fit a human’s reach. (If we had very, very, very, long arms, we could have a 10 meter wide piano repeating the notes again and again – although this would probably not make much sense as we would not be able to hear the extremely low and high frequencies!)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little article about how the piano works. It’s essential to understand the nature of an instrument in order to enjoy it more. Piano students who understand the nature of the instrument and how it works will make much faster progress than those without this basic understanding.

A small tip for beginners: Buy a small little keyboard that you can take with you wherever you go. (At work/holiday or a business trip). You can then use that mini keyboard to visualise this exercise in more depth and to practice some of your scale patterns on it throughout different octaves of the keyboard. (An octave is a length of 12. Each new time the 12 notes are repeated, we are operating in a new octave. The sound will go higher in pitch when we ascend on the keyboard and lower in pitch when we descend.)

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