Learning to Play the Piano: 3 Myths versus Realities

Whether you’re learning to play the piano again, after a decade’s long hiatus; or you’re trying to teach a young child according to best practices, you may have been led astray by the following 3 myths about what it takes to become an adept (or even a passable) pianist.music education-piano lessons

Myth #1: You can learn to play by watching online tutorials and by supplementing with “computer based” practice, reading about music theory on your iPad, etc.

Reality: There is no substitute for real world practice, guided by a live instructor.

Playing piano is a physical activity. You would never expect someone to learn how to ice skate correctly by studying ice-skating on the computer. You need a real piano – maybe a Yamaha upright piano – and an experienced teacher to show you correct hand positioning, instruct you on the dynamic features of the instrument, etc. This isn’t to say that virtual coaching or computer-assisted learning can’t supplement and support your quest.

Myth #2: You can find special systems to transform you into a brilliant pianist quickly.

Reality: While some teachers are better than others — and some piano learning systems are more effective than others — there are no real “shortcuts.”

To gain expertise on the instrument, you need to put in hours of hard practice. Your body and mind (and some might even say soul) must grow to understand the instrument on a deep level.

Myth #3: All practice is good practice.

Reality: Incorrect practice may be worse than no practice at all. You need correct practice.

Correct, deliberate practice is a very specific kind of practice.

Yes, you need time to “mess around” on your piano — to noodle around in an unstructured way to develop your musicality and just “have fun.” However, you need to lay in a solid foundation of musical and piano knowledge. You need to learn basic music theory; scales; good hand technique; good rhythm; and general musicianship and sensitivity.

Of course, if you don’t have a piano, your quest to learn the instrument is going to be a lot harder!

If you live in or around the Northern California area, come see us here at Pianos Plus. We’re a family run, Bay Area piano store that’s been serving budding musicians like you for four decades with excellent service.

1 thought on “Learning to Play the Piano: 3 Myths versus Realities

  1. Good deal, although I can’t really get behind a couple things (more on this later but first the agreements!) I tell folks all the time that they can try to find free crap online but they should note my site just in case it doesn’t work. They’ll be back! I love the comparison about ice skating – that is sheer genius! Right!, playing at any level is purely physical (although you do have to engage the mind right at the start!) Now on to the few things above I disagree with. 1. You seem very focused on the acoustic piano. Why? 2. Not everyone wants to be really, really good – most of the folks I’ve taught (1000’s in 25+ years) wanted only a nice musical hobby.

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