Helpful Tips for Novice Piano Players to Get You Started

Listen to this post here.

When you’re new to playing the piano, it’s essential to follow some basic principles if you want to be successful. It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole and get lost in learning different techniques from books that end up not working for you. What you do at the start of your journey matters. If you can put your time into the right things, you can give yourself the best chance of success.

Just remember, it’s ok if you don’t have everything down to a fine art yet because playing the piano is a constant learning process. Here are some great tips to help you start off on the right foot.

Later, we’ll discuss why you should perform as often as possible. First, we’ll talk about why it’s so important to find a good teacher.

Let’s start making music.

Find a great teacher

Many people like learning on their own from various sources be it from online resources, articles, books, or even YouTube videos. With the wealth of information available, this is more than possible. Learning on your own can save you money.

This is not the best way to start though. Finding a good teacher will be a worthwhile investment. Teachers can watch you play and give you advice on the kind of approach you can take to help you overcome any problems you may face. You will also be able to ask specific questions on things like tempo and fingering. That’s the sort of personalised feedback you won’t get from online tutorials or YouTube videos.

If you can’t afford a good piano teacher, there are some good training programmes you can buy to start off with, then you can always buy some piano lessons later when you’ve got the hang of the basics. As you advance, it will become even more apparent how important it is to seek out a tutor.

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Play music you like

There’s a wonderful array of music out there for pianists to play, more than any one person could play in a lifetime. With that in mind, find something you enjoy playing. Don’t force yourself to play pieces you don’t like.

There will, of course, be times when you’ll have to play music you don’t enjoy, such as if you enter a competition. You might practice the odd piece you don’t relish to impress people with your brilliant technique. But otherwise, do yourself a favour and play music you like.

Playing tunes you dislike can be difficult and make practicing a chore. Your playing can become dull if you can’t emotionally connect with what you’re playing. What’s more, if you don’t enjoy the music you’re playing it can lessen your focus and diminish your work ethic. Pieces you don’t enjoy get less attention and less time spent on them.

One of the best things you can do if you’re unsure what kind of music you will enjoy is to go for variety. By exposing yourself to lots of different music, you may even find that a piece you thought you would hate turns out to be one you love. It’s also good practice to try out new music whenever you can.

Don’t worry too much over technique books  

When you’re a novice, it’s all too easy to stress over books teaching good techniques. You need to realise there’s more to piano playing than fingering exercises and scales. You can dip into method books every now and again, but there’s no real need to study them religiously for countless hours.

Should you feel that you’re getting a bit rusty, the best thing to do is play a classical piece to really get your fingers moving. That will give you a chance to spot any bad habits you may have picked up if you’ve become a bit lazy with your technique.

Another way to turn music into exercises to test your technique is to turn the music you play into short rhythms.

Now we’ll see why it’s a good idea to perform as often as possible.

Perform for others often

Being a novice doesn’t mean you can’t perform for your family and friends. Music is something you should share with others and not keep to yourself. Take whatever chance you can to perform some of your repertoire to others. It’s a fantastic way to build confidence, it motivates you, and helps reassure you that you can play. That is no small thing when you’re putting so much effort into mastering it.

Listen to others playing the piano

Listen to other pianists play. Don’t rely only on recordings because you will be tempted to just produce a carbon copy of what you’ve heard. There’s no need to cut out listening to recordings entirely, as doing so can be useful when you’re a beginner. For example, if you’re unsure how to interpret particular markings or dynamics in your music, listening to recordings can help. You might even discover it helps you in ways you didn’t expect.

If listening to recordings doesn’t help you work things out, listening to other pianists might. If you know that the answer to your problem is before your eyes, but find it hard to grasp, you can get inspiration and ideas from the approaches they take to similar problems.

Later, we’ll look at why it’s better to take things slow when you first practice a piece. Next, we’ll find out how breaking music up into shorter chunks can help you out.

Break pieces of music up

When you’re a novice, you will be learning lots of music, and digesting so many pages of notes can be tricky at first. Indeed, the prospect can even be intimidating. If you break it up into chunks, you give your brain a chance to grasp what is going on within the music. Doing this is an effective way to keep yourself motivated because you can create milestones as you memorise each chunk of notes.

Let’s discover the value of taking things slow.

Take things slow

There are some pieces you can practice quickly, but there is lots of music you need to learn and practice slowly. By taking things slow, you can increase your accuracy and correct minor errors.

If you play through a measure quickly, on the other hand, you’re more likely to get rhythms wrong, play unevenly, and have only limited control. Therefore, practicing slowly is the best way to reduce the likelihood of making mistakes. So go through a piece slowly until you have a full understanding of it and have developed an emotional connection to it, before playing it faster. Note, this need not be many times at all.

If you find something isn’t working, slow down and try to solve the problem. By slowing down, you have the best chance to perfect your music.

Learn basic musical theory

It’s worth learning musical theory if you really want to master this instrument. It’s important to understand the theory to fully understand music itself. As a beginner, you need to know about markups, accidentals, key signatures, and much else besides. Theory helps you figure out how chords are structured, as well as how music is structured. It is also how you can fully comprehend how music works.

There are some fantastic online resources available to help you learn musical theory. One of the best sites is LightNote. If you need help with learning how to read music, check out this site.

Use sight-reading

Having the skill to spot key signatures, notes and rhythms will enable you to learn things much faster. If you don’t possess good sight-reading skills, you’ll have to work things out slowly. Conversely, if you have good sight-reading skills, you’ll be able to really speed things up. To keep your sight-reading skills sharp, try looking at a new piece of music a couple of times a week and reading it for about ten minutes.

Soon, we’ll look at why it’s not great to stare at your hands. Now though, we’ll consider why you should do your best to memorise your music as fast as you can.

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Memorise music

Concentrate on committing your music to memory as fast as you can. When you’ve done that, you can play with the choreography, placement, and dynamics. That’s when you can truly begin to connect with the music and take your skills to the next level.

The sooner you can memorise your music and begin to internalise it, the sooner you will improve as a musician.

Consider your posture

You must be mindful of your posture when you play the piano. Do your best not to slouch. Think about buying a bench you can adjust the height of. Keep your arms parallel to the keys and keep your upper body still.

It’s easy to fall into bad habits, particularly if the music you play is something you’re comfortable with and doesn’t demand much of you. Always make sure you are positioned correctly when you play.

It’s time to find out why staring at your hands isn’t the best idea if you want to improve.

Try not to look at your hands

It can be difficult to take your eyes off your hands when you first start playing. But if you stare at your hands too much, you might start making mistakes the instant you look away. Instead, look around. Being aware of the space around you will help you not to focus on sound alone.

It’s a much better idea to rely on your memory and ear, rather than worrying too much about what’s going on with your fingers as you play.

Learn the correct fingering

To become a proficient piano player, you need to learn the correct fingering, even though it can be a nuisance.

Sometimes, you can get away with poor fingering, but some sections of music need proper phrasing and that is when improper fingering will come back to bite you. So, work hard to master fingering. Once you figure it out, you’ll skills will improve, and you’ll become more musical.

You can refer to method books if you’re not sure where to begin. Most technique books include a section on fingering. If you find yourself struggling, experiment a little. This will help you discover which fingers work for you and make any necessary adjustments.

Sing

Singing is vital for novices. It helps you remember the music and keep your place within it. By finding the melodic line running through the music, you’ll fully comprehend what’s going on. Singing can also help you create a more dynamic process too.

If you learn to look at what you’re playing as songs and not merely notes on a page, you’ll be able to improve your playing to a great extent.

Wrapping up

These are the top tips for novice piano players, to help give you a head start on your musical journey. In my book, the most important tip here is the importance of finding a great teacher. If you find the perfect tutor for you, you could grow from a beginner to an accomplished player in quite a short time. Learning how to read music well is also essential if you aspire to become a truly excellent pianist.

If you follow these tips, you will have a well-thought-out approach to your playing. Therefore, you will find yourself making progress with your new hobby and learning this skill, rather than just wasting time.

I hope the tips I’ve shared prove helpful and serve to give you a boost as you embark on your journey. Now, go and have fun making music!

Published by Lizzie

Lizzie here. I'm a freelance copywriter and editor based in the UK. I'm also passionate about volunteering and hold a MA in History from the University of Warwick. I've written for a multitude of fantastic websites and companies, including a legal automation software company, a dog training site and more. Check out my reviews on Fiverr and Upwork for more info!

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