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Piano / Keyboard

Learning to play the piano is one of the bases for mastering most musical instruments. The piano is a very good primer on identifying, understanding, and playing different notes.

Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other Piano resources. We have a Piano forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with Piano how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best Piano books and products.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Duncan Davis

 

Intro


Learning any kind of music or musical instrument is a wonderful hobby that can easily turn into a profession. It can be extremely satisfying, after the initial hard work, to be able to produce sounds that refresh, elevate and soothe. You also need to make sure that you can spare the time to attend your piano lessons. It could need at least an hour each day for practicing.




So how does one get started with playing the piano? You can start your piano lessons even with a digital keyboard linked to your computer, but there’s nothing like an acoustic piano in the long run if you intend to take up this hobby seriously.




Once you invest in a piano you will need to make sure that you take good care of it and maintain it properly. Apart from a piano, you must be prepared to pay for your piano lessons. Private lessons are considered best since the teacher can understand your abilities well and steer you in the right direction for the appropriate techniques to use. In this aspect, no software can substitute the attention and guidance that you can get from a real piano teacher.




Choosing Your Piano Tutor


You need to be totally at ease with your piano tutor to be able to develop your abilities at the right pace. A good piano tutor will probably have a Bachelor’s Degree in Music in addition to being active with performing regularly in public as well as being a member of various organizations related to music. A dedicated piano teacher will let you use their computer training lab, give you access to their regular newsletters, introduce you to competitive performances. So don’t go by what fees they charge you. Paying a little more and getting all this is better than paying a little less for just coaching alone.




While some teachers are prepared to come to your home at an extra fee and coach you, most expect you to go to their studio to learn.




So while choosing your piano tutor, find out about his or her experience and qualifications, what they expect from you as a student, what you can expect from them and the type of music they teach. You will need to know whether the teacher covers music theory and various techniques. You may also like to know how many other students the piano tutor teaches and whether teaching piano is their full time activity.




Tips To Get Started With Playing The Piano


The first thing you need to do is of course get some music theory basics. While this can sound a little tedious, when all you want to do is get your hands on the keys and start playing, it is essential to know theory to get a true understanding, if you are really serious about playing the piano or any musical instrument, for that matter.




Next comes listening to as much piano music as you can. If you listen to the music, you can gradually pick out the notes you hear and perhaps practice along with the music. This will help you over time, to identify the notes, intervals and patterns of the chords being played. It may be a little tough in the beginning, but you will become proficient at it soon. You will notice, as you listen to the piano recordings, that some pianists follow a particular pattern and keep repeating them across the songs they play. So something that probably sounds complex will be quite easy once you understand how it is done.




You are possibly wondering what you should concentrate on when you practice. Now this will depend on what you are aiming for. When you practice scales, you will be able to develop expertise on the keyboard with your fingers. You will also be able to relate with music theory better, allowing you to recognize which key you need to begin a song with, in addition to automatically knowing the sharp notes and flat notes that appear in the song. Start your practice initially with scales taking it slowly.




What Is Your Goal?


You need to decide whether you would like to be a writer and composer of music, or improvise or directly play from sheet music. Some people tend to literally play piano ‘by ear’. We could say that there are, in general, two types of pianists. The ones that play it by ear and the ones that read the music sheets. There are some exceptional pianists who have the ability to do both.




The experts advise that no matter what your goal is, you cannot bypass learning music theory. It is only then that you can express yourself through your music with passion and feeling.




This information will get you started in your piano-playing hobby, along with the resources below where there are plenty of instructional videos, links to piano lessons, book recommendations and educational articles that will equip you will all you need to know about this satisfying hobby – playing the piano.




Playing The Piano – A Soothing Hobby – Part II


The Piano is a wonderful instrument that enhances any type of music it is used with. It is so versatile that it has the ability to fit into a variety of music contexts, whether as a solo instrument or as an accompaniment. The piano is a lovely instrument to compose and to practice on, and helps you become skilled in musical notation. For those who already know to play other musical instruments, the piano simply lets you enjoy and build on your musical talent even more.


By now, you have already decided on your purpose to learn to play the piano. Above we talked about how to get started with your piano-playing hobby, how to choose a piano tutor, and some tips. Let us now explore this wonderful hobby in a little more depth. In this article, we will cover the following aspects of playing the piano:




• Keyboard or real piano?




• A basic introduction on how to read piano notes




• Finger placement




• Foot pedals




You will need access to a piano, or buy one if you can. Good quality grand pianos can set you back a few thousands of dollars, so you might think of going in for an electronic keyboard. You may not quite get the exact sound of the piano, but a keyboard can be a convenient investment for a beginner as they are affordable, easy to use and best of all, portable. If you are really keen on a real piano, you can check with your local music store to see if they have rental pianos. The main thing to check here is to make sure the notes are pure.




In this context, you are probably wondering what difference it could make whether you learn on a keyboard or a real piano. The fact is, each has its own advantages. Depending on which is more convenient, you can make your choice.




So, Keyboard Or Real Piano?


These days, digital keyboards are very advanced. They sound almost as good as a real piano. This is basically because manufacturers use authentic sound samples from the acoustic grand pianos. A big advantage with keyboards is that you don’t have to tune them, since they always stay in tune. You can carry them around wherever you want. A majority of them cost a lot less than a real piano. The expensive models use weighted wooden piano keys just like those of a real piano. You can also fix headphones to practice in private. Some of these keyboards come with enhancements like extra instrumental and percussion sound effects that make them more fun to use.




However, ask any piano enthusiast and they will swear that a real acoustic piano is the best. It is a fact that this complex instrument with its myriad mechanical inner parts produces sounds that are unique to each performer – something that is not possible with an electronic keyboard. The vibrating strings and wood create sounds and a resonance that is impossible to duplicate. There are delicate nuances of the foot pedal’s effects that cannot be reproduced by digital effects.




So the decision is yours to make depending on your priorities. Most learners get started with a keyboard if they cannot access an acoustic piano. Here your goals play an important role. If your objective is short term and is only to enjoy learning some music, then a keyboard will probably suffice. But if it is developing playing skills in the long term that you are after, an acoustic piano is best.




A Basic Introduction On How To Read Piano Notes


No matter what type of pianist you are or what your goal is, you have to have the basics of music theory to truly express yourself. Here is a quick introduction to piano notes and how to recognize them. While this obviously cannot be an exhaustive lesson, it can get you experimenting with the notes and try to play simple songs. You can use the valuable resources listed on our website to go deeper into this aspect.




Basically, music notes are of three types:




• The natural notes – written as the note letter




• Sharp notes – shown by the symbol #




• Flat notes – shown by the letter b




This means if you say B, it is B natural; G# is G sharp and Ab is A flat.




Each piano key plays a specific note. How would you identify each note?




There is a pattern to the keys. The white keys occur through the length of the keyboard and they denote the natural keys. There are seven notes represented as A, B, C, D, E, F and G. The pattern of these seven notes repeats itself. So you find A to G, then A to G again and so on.




Notice the way the black keys are grouped in alternating pairs of twos and threes. This helps identify the notes. Look at the keyboard again, and you will see, for instance, how the C note always occurs to the left of a group of two black keys. In the same way, let us find the other six notes. You will find:




• D note in the middle of the group of two black keys




• E note at the left of the group of two black keys




• F note at the left of the group of three black keys




• G note – between first and second black key of a group of three black keys.




• A note between the second and third black keys of a group of three black keys




• B note at the right of the group of three black keys




The black keys get their note value from the white keys around them and are denoted by a sharp ‘#’ or a flat ‘b’. Sharp means the key is half a step higher than the white note at its left. Flat means it is half a step lower than the white key to the right.




With practice you can become proficient at finding the notes on the keyboard. After you learn notes, you will learn how they are combined to form major chords, minor chords and scales. To play different types of chords, you need to follow the correct finger positions.




Finger Placement


When you learn to play music, you will generally begin by reading simple sheet music. To understand and play, you must learn the correct finger placement. To help you do this each finger is denoted by a number. This means the thumb is 1, the index finger is 2, the middle finger is 3, the ring finger is 4 and the little finger is 5. Accordingly, the sheet will indicate, by number, where each finger must be placed.




Foot Pedals


Once you are well on your way to knowing the basic notes and techniques of playing the piano’s keyboard, you want to know about the piano’s foot pedals. These add a depth to the piano’s sounds. The piano has three foot pedals.




• Soft pedal played with the left foot, which softens the tone of the notes.




• Sostenuto pedal in the middle, also played with the left foot, which sustains only the notes that are hit when the pedal pressed down.




• Sustain pedal, which is played with the right foot and used the most. It sustains all the strings on the piano, removing the dampers that muffle the vibration. It helps pianists achieve the legato.




Most piano music needs the sustain pedal, with the soft pedal being used once in a while. The sostenuto pedal is infrequently used and not all pianos have it. The best thing to do is to explore all the pedals to get a feel of them and understand how they affect your sounds.




You are probably eager to find out how to choose a piano, what to look for in a piano, types of pianos, detailed tutorials on how to play notes, various types of chords and scales, practice lessons, and much more. You can find all this information at the following website, along with videos, more useful links and excellent books on playing the piano and everything else related to it. Enjoy! After all, practice puts you on the road to perfection.