Learning to play the piano is a hard thing to do. Some people have a natural talent, so it’s a lot easier for them, but it’s still a steep learning curve. And there are so many ways to learn this. So what’s the best way to learn piano at home?
The best part is that it’s never too late to learn anything. It can be harder to find time as you get older, work a full-time job, have a family, etc. However, there is something always to remember.
All limitations are in your head.
In this guide, you’ll learn about the basics and fundamentals of playing the piano and then move on to the best three ways to learn piano at home. It’s a lengthy article that will cover a lot so stay tuned.
The best way to begin the journey is from going over the fundamentals of the passion you are about to pursue. In your case, it’s mastering the piano.
First of all, let’s go over the common questions that a beginner may be interested in.
What’s learning to play the piano entail?
Learning how to play the piano, similar to any other musical instrument, is made of two essential part – theory and technique. The theory is everything you should know about notes, scales, harmonies, chords, chord progressions, reading the music, etc. Its mastery is achievable by reading, learning, and memorizing.
What about the technique?
The technique is a little more complicated because it involves a lot of practice and training your muscle memory. You may know a specific chord progression by heart, but you won’t get a good sound until you practice the pressure you need to apply, timing, and hand position. And don’t forget about training your ears as well.
Why is fingering crucial?
Clearly, fingering is one of the core fundamentals every piano player and pianist wannabe has to master. If you look at the sheet music, you’ll notice numbers above notes. Each number represents the finger that has to be used while playing the note. As you practice, reading the numbers while playing will become your second nature.
Is practicing fingering necessary?
Most definitely. Unless you are a prodigy whose fingering is proper from the moment he or she touches the key, you need to practice. Everyone has different finger sizes and flexibility so that proper fingering will benefit you in the long run. You’ll be able to play a melody easily and smoothly.
What’s a proper piano playing posture?
When you are working in an office and sit in front of the monitor all day, you have to maintain a proper posture, distance from the screen, and exercises to stay productive, efficient, and safe from back pain. A similar thing applies to playing the piano.
The proper posture involves the distance from the piano, the piano bench height, the way you sit on the bench. Overall, a lot of things to consider.
How long is the distance from the piano?
There are no precise measurements involved, but the rule of thumb is that you should be close enough to reach the pedals with your feet and keys with your hands. You have to sit at a 90-degree angle with a straight back. If you have to lean forward at times when playing the piano, you can do that as well, but in moderation.
How high does a piano bench have to be?
Asking this question is the same as asking how big a cake for someone birthday has to be. There aren’t any number written in stone. Look for a bench that will suit your height or an adjustable piano bench. Piano benches are not pricey so getting one up to your liking should be a problem.
How to sit on the piano bench?
It’s crucial but still up to your preference. There are general rules that you can apply and see if they work for you. Try sitting near the front edge of the bench. If you decide to lean back on sit in the middle, then your center of gravity will continuously be shifting as you play.
As a result, you can get an injury or sore back. This often happens when someone plays piano for extended periods of time without taking a break. As your muscles get tense, any rapid movement can result in a potential injury.
How to position your hands when playing the piano?
Some people find the “right” position definition odd. Should you simply be comfortable when playing the piano? Well, apparently there is a position that is preferable when learning to play the piano. Some people aren’t able to move their hands freely, while others do. Therefore, right hands positioning assists every player.
Another drawback of not learning the proper hand position in the very beginning is pain and soreness from playing the piano, even if you’ve only played for a short period of time.
So what’s the optimal hand position when playing the piano?
Imagine that you are holding a tennis ball. The palms are slightly arched while you curve your finger like if you were actually holding one. The position can make your hands uncomfortable at first, but soon you’ll get used to it. In the long run, this simple technique will save you a hustle of dealing with pain, fatigue, and injuries.
Do you need to cut my nails?
Even though not mandatory, almost every professional piano player keeps his or her nails short. If your nails are long, it may be difficult to position your hands on the keys correctly. Therefore, the learning process will get more complicated.
What is music theory?
Learning the music is similar to studying a foreign language. You can quickly learn a few words which are enough to buy some food at a convenience store. The hardest part is to become fluent at it, understand the slang, etc.
When studying music theory, you may find it overwhelming, like if you were to take a book in a different language and tried to read it. You need to learn the traffic rules to drive, and you need to study music theory to learn a musical instrument.
What is music theory composed of?
IT’s made of various signatures (time and key, for example) and notes. The notes themselves can vary in both shape and duration. Everything depends on a melody. It will feel complicated and take time to comprehend, but there is no need to worry.
Look into “The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Music Theory.” The title sounds silly, but attracts a lot of attention. And the material inside is great for beginners who don’t know a lot about music theory in general. The book will guide you through chords, harmonies, rhythms, arranging, composing, and a lot more.
It’s also a great bang for the buck.
Now let’s look into various ways to learn piano at home.
Methods To Learn Piano At Home
There are many ways to master a musical instrument such as piano for different budgets and learning types.
Among them are the most privileged ones such as hiring a professional piano teacher to come to your place and work with you, and the most budget such as buying a book to learn to play the piano yourself. But let’s not jump into things head first.
Traditional ways of learning the piano are the ones that have been around forever. You can go back 50 years, and not a whole lot of things have changed.
Hiring a piano teacher
This is likely the most expensive and the easiest way to learn piano at home. A professional piano player will come and work with you a few times a week, give you homework, and correct your mistakes.
It works the best with kids as it’s hard for them to focus on a book or a YouTube tutorial. Moreover, it’s easier for them to listen to another person pointing out their mistakes or telling them how to do something correctly. It’s similar to the classes they take at school, so kids don’t really need to change their way of thinking.
Would it be harder for adults?
Well, depends on the person. Most adults have full-time jobs and a lot of other stuff to do. The last thing they want is another person pushing them to practice more and telling them they are playing a piece of a melody completely wrong.
Moreover, there are so many more things to spend money on, so why having to pay a fortune to someone to bring more stress into your life. However, people think different, and maybe some need this exact push to start finally learning piano at home as they’ve wanted to for years.
Going to a music school
This is not quite a method to learn piano at home but is one of the most popular traditional methods to consider. Why? Because you will be around like-minded people who also will to learn how to play the piano. Moreover, you are under way less pressure usually.
Most music schools also have small classes, so the instructor can assist every student if help is needed. You still rip off the benefits of having deadlines, homework, and paced learning, while saving a few bucks.
Are music schools expensive?
Honestly, they are not cheap. You have to pay for the place, to the staff and instructors, and a lot more. The costs have to be covered one way or another. Moreover, you won’t get straight to playing the piano right away. Most schools focus on music theory a lot in the beginning, which will help you in the long run.
If you want to play around with different voices, harmonies, etc. then music schools are not for you. You have to stay focused and follow the instructions given. If that’s not your style of learning, and you’d rather work at your own pace, there are different methods to pursue.
Learn piano at home from piano books
One of the less conventional traditional methods you’ve thought of is learning the piano from a book. And that’s been the most popular method for so many years before the electronics and computers have taken over. We’ll talk about that in a bit.
Books can be a fantastic kickstart when it comes to theory and fundamentals. They usually include a lot of examples and help you avoid the basic mistakes when starting to learn the piano. And the books aren’t expensive!
What are the drawbacks of piano books?
The biggest drawback is the lack of any interaction or engagement. Of course, there can be so-called “interactive exercises,” but how good are they? It’s a lot easier to read a 200 pages long novel than going through 200 pages of piano theory and practice exercises that look gibberish at first.
And the low cost makes it easy to leave the book on the shelf and forget about it. Most people lose their enthusiasm after they can’t understand something or keep failing a particular exercise, so learning piano at home by the book is only for those who are dedicated.
New Age Methods
As computers’ gotten popular and the Internet stopped being a privilege and became a necessity, a lot of new ways to learn piano emerged. They are more accessible and tend to be more engaging.
With a lot more flexibility and accessibility regarding both software and hardware, there has never been a better time to learn the piano. Let’s go over the best methods to learn piano at home that technology’s brought to us.
Learn how to play piano with YouTube
YouTube has always been the best way to learn piano at home for visual learners. Moreover, besides simply seeing how the piece is played, you also hear how it has to sound. Therefore, you don’t only note the finger and hands positioning, but also the force applied. The harder you push the key, the louder the note is going to be.
Furthermore, it’s incredibly easy to learn your favourite songs as you go if you’ve already picked up most fundamentals. If you know the primary chords and popular chord progressions, you can already play a lot of the pop songs. Catch up with the melody, and you are good to go.
Is it easy to learn piano from videos?
Again, everything depends on an individual. If you are able to focus your attention on a particular lesson or song until you master it, then YouTube is a fantastic idea. It’s also free. However, endless choices can also lead to getting overwhelmed.
You want to learn all the amazing songs you see and end up learning them halfway if that. Instead of practicing a piece until you sound great you switch to the next one, and then to another one, and so on. As a result, you will become the jack of all trades, master of none. And nobody wants that.
Learn piano at home with light up keys
Only a few digital pianos and keyboards have this feature that was initially introduced to the world by Casio.
The most well know keyboard of this kind is Casio LK-280 (the image above)
It’s a 61-key digital piano, and its keys light up as the note is played. This is an amazing opportunity for visual learners to learn how chords, chord progressions, melodies, etc. are played. Moreover, the preset bank has a few songs. When you press play, the keys will light up as the melody goes, which helps you a lot as you learn!
However, there is a drawback to this technique as well! Even though it may seem like light-up keys will only assist the piano student, some believe that beginners may seek an easy way and simply memorize the patters as opposed to developing their muscle memory.
It’s an innovation for sure.
Does it help a lot of people? Absolutely, but some students also learn piano at home the wrong way and then have to spend extra time to relearn the entire thing. If you decide that a digital piano or keyboard with light-up keys is something you need, try to rely on your ears and muscles, not your memory.
And the keyboard itself won’t really teach you anything. The innovation has to be combined with a different traditional or new age method for you to benefit from it.
The computer revolution was insane, but then mobile phones took over the spotlight. As a result, tons of courses became available on mobile as well. One of the prime examples of the revolution in learning piano at home is Yousician.
Founded at the end of 2010, it has become one of the top tools to learn piano by yourself. And if you give it a shot, you’ll find out why. First of all, you get to learn more than one instrument. Among the instruments listed you’ll find not only the piano, but also guitar, bass, and ukulele.
What do the lessons look like with Yousician?
The lessons are incredibly interactive, as the app “listening” for the correct notes and patterns as you play. Moreover, you get scores and stars for each of the levels completed, feedback, progress tracker, weekly song challenges, and a lot more.
As the developers state, this piano learning software is designed to work on your musical skills as opposed to boring music theory. You can think of this as a pro and a con at the same time. It’s a lot more fun to start playing right away, but you are missing you on the crucial theoretical knowledge.
Is Yousician free?
Yes, there is indeed a free version that you can use. There is no obligation to buy anything whatsoever. The only difference between free and premium is how long you can study for. The free version only lets you go over a few lessons a day, while premium lets you practice for as much as you want.
Payments are monthly, and there is a discount if you sign up for a year. In all honesty, the free version is not bad at all. 30 minutes a day is more than you need to start learning piano at home, so don’t worry if you can’t afford the premium yet.
While Yousician is impressive and incredibly interactive, you have to learn theory and have a few practical exercises at hand. Playing the piano at home with an easy-to-follow software is fun, but you rely on it way too much. As a result, you may finish the entire thing and end up not knowing how to play sheet music or anything by ear.
Luckily, PianoForAll comes in handy with 9 step-by-step ebooks, teaching you fundamentals, and then moving on to a different genre of music you can play. This includes jazz, classical, ballads, and more.
How paced are the lessons in PianoForAll course?
You choose the pace yourself. It can be overwhelming to realize you have so many hours of studying and practicing in front of you, but that’s a good thing. Once you’ve finished the entire course, you’ll be able to play piano professionally.
Of course, you have to avoid cutting corners. If you don’t get something or have trouble completing an exercise, don’t simply move on. There is a high likelihood you won’t get back to it at all. Therefore, if you want to learn piano at home, you have to focus on each lesson and complete it from beginning to end.
Is PianoForAll free?
Unfortunately, PianoForAll is not free. However, the price is nothing for the value it offers to its users. It will cost you around $20 to purchase a single ebook on Amazon. With this course, you get tons of downloadable and interactive material, including videos.
Moreover, you receive lifetime updates and great support from the development team of professional pianists who developed this course.
Take a look at a sample video below.
Conclusion: Best Way To Learn Piano At Home
As you found out, there are many ways to learn piano at home by yourself. And if you think you need some extra help, there are always piano teachers that you can hire online or in real life. The rest is up to you. Take the leap of faith already. It’s not as scary as it seems.
Remember that learning piano at home is a long journey that requires hard work and dedication, like any other skill. Don’t expect to be good after your first day, week, or even a month. Try staying inspired, because that’s the best way to stay committed.
Feel like giving up?
After some time, life may get in the way. And if the fire inside of you is gone, it’s easy to “cut the losses” and move on with your everyday stuff. However, being a quitter is a habit. The only way to break it is to keep working even when you don’t feel like you have energy or time.
At the end of the day, everything is up to you. If you feel like putting in work, then the methods to learn piano at home by yourself mentioned above will help you a lot!