- Fundamentals of Piano Practice — Fundamentals of Piano Practice
- 1. Piano Lessons Help Children in School
- What The Research Says About Piano Practice and Motivation [Book Review]
- What learning piano in my twenties taught me — and why you should try it
Keep the tempo.
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Vary the volume. Move both hands independently of one-another. Make sure it all actually sounds good. You know that brain-straining feeling when you try and multiply three three-digit numbers together? That's what it felt like to be interpreting and playing music on the fly. The Yamaha P Mine doesn't have the fancy stand Yamaha To learn, I bought myself a new Yamaha P45 electric piano to learn on.
I needed something with a full key keyboard like a traditional acoustic piano , touch-sensitive weighted keys so it actually sounds and feels like a piano , and I didn't care about fancy voices and modes. I also decided when I began that I was prepared to invest real time and money into this, and pay for a tutor to give me lessons on a near- weekly basis. This obviously isn't an option for everyone. But having a tutor means you get expert guidance and avoid learning bad habits — and I'm very glad I did it.
For me at least, learning independently would have been far more difficult and infuriating. If you care about something, invest in it. Though I had committed to learning piano by the end of , an accident involving a very sharp knife and my thumb meant I was only in a position to buy the piano and start learning at the end of January For the first week or two, I tried learning using Yousician, a freemium app that can teach you piano and other instruments.
It was better than nothing — but it was also limited, and I quickly began looking for a human tutor. But an early frustration was the basic-ness of the stuff I was playing, often simplified versions of popular songs. I wanted to be better than I was. I wanted to play stuff I wasn't capable of.
In that sense, it was a lesson in patience and humility. It's increasingly rare that I go into something completely blind, starting from first principles. You gravitate towards fields and pursuits you're good at, and away from those you're not. Learning piano forced me to face my ineptitude head on, and try to change it.
Slowly and surely, I improved — and it made a world of difference when I could begin playing stuff that didn't feel dumbed-down. John Cage's "In A Landscape" is haunting, and relatively technically simple.
Fundamentals of Piano Practice — Fundamentals of Piano Practice
And Philip Glass's Metamorphosis II is actually very manageable, before the rapid-fire arpeggios begin. Without a doubt I've played it more than anything else in my repertoire — to my flatmates' resigned amusement.
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Can you hear the mistake? Here's a live version of the full song. The finger-melting arpeggios start around the two-minute-thirty mark. I expect I could have progressed faster had I applied myself more. Lessons, nominally once a week, sometimes happened much less frequently, and I had a gap of a month or two during the summer when I didn't play at all. But in the early Autumn, I agreed to try for Grade 1 before the end of the year — and that's when it got frantic. Having a play on the piano at my parents' house. I thought I'd left this all behind when I left university. It involved learning and performing three pieces from a selection available, memorising scales and broken chords, doing sight-reading, and an aural test listening to music, identifying traits, and singing it back as an "echo.
In short, it aims to test the full range of skills required for you to be considered "good" at playing a given instrument.
1. Piano Lessons Help Children in School
It's all scored out of You need or more to pass, with to considered a "merit," and above classified as a "distinction," the highest grade. The lion's share of the marks come from the three prepared pieces, worth up to 30 each, with the other three around 20 each. After agreeing to take the test, I quickly realised I was nowhere near ready. My tutor must've rescheduled it at least half a dozen times to give me more time to prepare, and I was practicing morning-and-evening by the end to try and get up to speed. I ended up taking it in the first week of December — the last week available to do it before Christmas.
I turned up with only minutes before it began, butchered the sight-reading, and actually felt my hands shaking at one point while performing. Not a great experience. The Lincolnshire Poacher, above, was one of my exam pieces. Playing from memory without the sheet music in front of me, I'm wobbly on one or two bits. Part of the allure of learning music for me was the arcane mystery of it all. From the outside, the rules of music bear to no discernible relation to the "real" world.
It has no clear grounding in scientific thought. Why are there only seven notes? Why is it written the way it is? Why do some notes have sharps or flats, and others don't? Why are some combinations of notes good, and others bad? Why is everything in Italian? And yet somehow, it all comes together, like nothing else on earth. Like magic. However I did in the exam, I knew that I'd made a little progress down this new road.
I had learned the basics of a beautiful alchemy, of organic aural creation. At least, that's what I told myself as I anxiously waited for my tutor to get back to me with the results. After two long weeks of waiting, I finally got a text on Wednesday December 21, Are you wondering what some of the key benefits of playing the piano are?
What The Research Says About Piano Practice and Motivation [Book Review]
There are a ton of benefits to playing the piano, and it helps to know what those are before committing to the instrument. Everyone has their own reasons for signing up for piano lessons, but these 21 benefits are consistent across the board no matter your background. Playing the piano helps stimulate the brain. According to this study by Frontiers In Psychology , studying the piano can help greatly with the cognitive functions of the brain.
Because of the complex nature of the piano from notes, to rhythms to musical tones, it does tremendous wonders for motor skill development more on this later. Piano study has actually been linked to faster brain development in children; especially when it comes to sound recognition and overall coordination. This is because all of the essential brain functions needed for producing music include visual, aural, and coordination. Children who study music are able to work out problems quickly; applying logical solutions that produce long-lasting results.
There are many studies available that support music having an overall impact on the brain, but there is still some uncertainty to how the length of study affects brain development. An example of this lies in those who have had a prolonged study at the piano and whether that has a direct impact on their ability to think differently. Overall pianists are more balanced individuals because the instrument requires this. From leveling out hand strength to balancing their musical ear with better sound encoding, pianists are able to process things a little differently.
Pianists also have the unique ability to multitask and develop better problem-solving skills the more they study. One main concern some parents have with piano study centers around the social aspect of things. Most young students will take piano lessons with a teacher, so at an early age, they are learning some important social skills.
They work on building trust with that teacher, learning to communicate with them and how to deal with personal instruction and discipline. Because the teacher is an adult, this will likely be their first real experience outside of a family atmosphere or at school. Many piano teachers will offer group classes to their students.
Group piano classes are a great way for young students to engage with others who are doing the same thing. Many group class formats follow students accompanying each other on tunes, playing games, and working on group problem-solving skills. Beyond this are of course piano recitals and various presentations for family members and the community as a whole.
The amount of time and effort put into the instrument has a direct impact on your ability to produce results. Not only that but having to attend lessons regularly helps build their accountability trait. Good teachers also have very strict rules and expectations of their students.
They are able to learn at an early age of how to handle their lessons plans, and how to divide their playtime with friends with their intense study of the piano. Usually, a student is provided with a lesson binder or booklet so that they can track their practice progress, make notes, and also write down questions. The more filled out their lessons sheets are, the more motivated they are to practice and to be their best at each lesson.
Accountability is a serious trait to have, especially as an adult. Those who study the piano are better able to handle their responsibilities and are ultimately more reliable individuals in the workplace and with family and friends. Playing the piano does a great deal for overall hand-eye coordination. With more advanced playing, pianists can make octave leaps and experiment with different types of meter too. Pianists develop speed and better spacial recognition as a result. Along with the development of those skills for the purposes of playing music, having this sort of coordination is great for other activities too.
There are many steps involved from learning each individual note, locking down solid fingering, polishing dynamics, and even getting ready for a recital. Rather than rushing through a passage of 16th notes, pianists need to digest each and every note one by one and then piece it together so that it sounds refined.
I talk about this style of practice in my tips for improving piano playing. Practicing this way with attention to detail always leads to the best results in piano playing. In life, there are many situations where patience is key before a reward. Children who play the piano are more likely to be patient with other activities too.
They have a better understanding of how discipline and following the process can help them be their best. Creativity is an important trait to have in life, especially when it comes to problem-solving, being innovative, and holding positions of leadership. Playing the piano helps specifically with this because music is so heavily focused on being unique at your craft. This goes beyond just Classical piano too.
A study on Jazz piano and how certain regions of the brain impact creativity done by Dr. Ana Pinho has some fascinating information; you can read about it here. Pinho took brain scans of pianists and found that those who were more experienced with the instrument used less brain power in order to pull off creative improvisation.
The study also found patterns in the brain where the prefrontal cortex was actually the basis of musical composition that could be done on the fly. The piano allows us to experience different sound dynamics, unique chord harmonies and much more. All of those experiences can shape young artists and they can slowly build their own unique style of play over the years. Many of those same traits can be carried on in life and applied in various situations. Young students who study the piano are able to take what might seem simple to others, and make a unique complex creation out of it!
Beyond just reading sheet music, pianists can also compose at the instrument. I find that composition skills are the most important to have at an early age of study. Many method books actually include improvisation and composition exercises in them from the very beginning.
What learning piano in my twenties taught me — and why you should try it
I covered some of these books in my best piano lessons books for beginners article here. Motor skills are the actions you take that involve your muscles. Playing the piano helps greatly with this, because of the amount of fingerwork involved. We consider these to be the fine motor skills, which are the smaller, more delicate movements and often more difficult to execute. Fine motor skills include hand and finger movement, coordination of those movements with the eyes, and more.
For more information on the importance of motor skill development, read this article. As a pianist, each finger operates independently of the other and that dexterity can be developed. The fingers all work in conjunction with the arm and torso which leads to larger movements. On top of that, pianists use each hand independently of each other. An example of this is playing the accompaniment in the left hand, and the melody in the right hand.
Even more complex is when pianists start playing in polyrhythm as evidenced in Chopins etudes. The ability for pianists to do this so effortlessly has to do with building neurological transmissions. Basically, a pianist can take something that might seem complex to others, break it down to a more digestible form, and then execute it flawlessly.
Those abilities come with practice, however, pianists can develop an overall increase in the ability to do this with other subjects too. Studying the piano for an extended period of time also helps greatly with mood and overall well-being. More importantly, piano study can help reduce stress and anxiety. The more problems you solve, the more confidence you build as a pianist. For those preparing for piano recitals, a great deal of anxiety is sometimes associated with the performance aspect of things.
Thankfully there are plenty of awesome resources like this one for overcoming piano performance anxiety.