Piano practice can be fun too!
Most people don’t really want to ‘learn’ to play the piano or ‘practice’ the piano, they just want to ‘play’ piano. ‘Play’ sounds like fun, ‘practice’ sounds like a chore. We get this image from childhood – some kid stuck indoors ‘practicing’ scales while all the other kids are outside the window ‘playing’.
So, first thing we need to do is to see our piano practice in a new light. See it as a way of accelerating the learning process so that SOON you’ll be able to ‘play’ piano and play it well. If you don’t practice and you just play old familiar tunes you move rather slowly. Yes, you’ll get better at playing those old familiar tunes but technically you won’t be pushing yourself to greater heights.
Proper, structured piano practice helps you stride forwards. I say ‘proper’ because a lot of people have an idea that practice IS just playing songs over and over. Practice needs to involve unchartered territory. The golden rule is – ‘practice what you CAN’T play, not what you CAN play’.
First of all, work out what you want to achieve. Do you just want to know all your chords without thinking about how they are formed – then work out a practice routine that leads to that goal. Maybe you want to learn about inversions or chord substitution – again, make the practice fit the goal.
Split your practice session into two halves. In the first half play the difficult stuff – your mind is sharper to begin with – then reward yourself with some enjoyable but reasonably difficult tunes. Make sure you are comfortable. Many a bad back has happened because of a bad piano stool at the wrong height. Make sure your piano is in tune. If you don’t have a good piano and are serious about learning GO BUY A GOOD ONE.
Every fifteen minutes stretch your arms and shoulders and roll your neck to combat stiffness. Check out some Yoga exercises for shoulders and back.
Follow the 3 times daily rule. Repetition in practice is ESSENTIAL. If you find something particularly difficult make sure you practice it at least 3 times every day. Don’t worry if it takes months to master – you’ll get there.
Don’t play for the neighbours. Practice piano at a time when you don’t care who is listening so that you can make lot’s of mistakes and play things over and over. Organise your piano music carefully – don’t keep it in a heap where you keep playing the ones on top. If you download sheet music put it in a folder. Have plenty of shelves near the piano. Be realistic – I truly believe that anyone can learn piano and learn it to an enjoyable level but no two people are alike – some are more ‘naturally’ gifted than others. If you have an average ability then it’s all down to practice. The more you practice the more you learn.
Now and then, practice with your eyes closed – or don’t look at the keys – this really sharpens you up. Organise your life so that practice is possible (this where Mindfulness comes in). Too many people think they don’t have time to practice when really they just haven’t found the time. How long should you practice – that’s up to what you want to achieve. You don’t have to be a concert pianist. Even if you just play for yourself just enjoy that. The archer who’s mind is on the prize cannot stay focussed on the target. Accept the bad days when it seems like you can’t play a note. Sometimes it’s better to walk away. So remember that ‘playing’ piano and ‘practicing’ piano are different. Which do you do? Aim for a bit of both.
Which is better.. Keyboard or Piano?
Real pianos are great but the one big drawback is you can’t turn the volume down so with a piano you tend to end up playing for the neighbours. With a keyboard you can stick on some headphones and play whatever turns you on – you can experiment, make mistakes and sound silly and play something a thousand times without driving other people nuts. Ideally – have BOTH!
If you are buying a piano it is preferable to buy an overstrung piano not a straight strung! How to tell: Lift the top lid of the piano you should see the tuning pins at the top of the piano. If the tuning pins are evenly spaced along the pin block and the strings are all parallel and vertical this is a straight strung piano. If there is a group of tuning pins at the left and a separate group at the right and the strings cross over in a X shape this is an overstrung piano. Also get a tuner to check it out. I bought a piano once that needed to have the wood treated because all the pins (that tighten the strings) were coming loose very quickly after being tuned – disaster!
What Keyboard should you choose?
A lot depends on what you want. Do you want a keyboard that sounds and feels like a Piano – then you’re looking for a keyboard or Digital Piano with WEIGHTED keys. Listen carefully to the piano sound – don’t be bamboozled by all the other buttons. If you want something portable then you are looking for a keyboard. Personally I would still look for one with weighted keys – I hate the feel of light plastic keys.
Get a keyboard with at least 61 keys – anything less and you will be craving for more keys after a few days. Also make sure get a sustain pedal, a keyboard is absolutely a dead thing without one. Without a sustain pedal as soon as you lift your finger off a key the sound stops dead – with a piano at least the strings vibrate for a second or two – the difference is quite noticeable.
I’m amazed! Once you get the rhythms down, you really can sound like a pro! Great fun! Thanks for making this available at such a reasonable price. Anyone who doesn’t grab this up is going to go the long way home!
Joy! T. Dwight Kidd, Alabama, USA
This course is exactly what I have been looking for with all the shortcuts that have been such a mystery to me for years. Well done Robin an excellent product. Kind regards. Paul”
Paul Saxon , UK
It is simple, straight forward yet very effective. It makes the complex understandable and for those of us who don’t want to master music theory, it gets us playing quite well in a short time. I can’t say enough good about your program. Thanks again and keep up the good work!
Ed Doran, Muskogee, OK
Hey Robin, Just wanted to say thanks for this course. This is a great way to get up and running fast for song writing on the piano. I feel like I owe you more money.
Mike, Nashville Tennessee
Enjoying the piano like Ive never – bless you for your insight into teaching – it works!! Please accept my highest respect for possibly the best tutorial of all time – I am 74 and have seen a few. You have made me a happy slave to my keyboard and sound!
Derek, Thornton Cleveleys, Lancashire, England, UK
I’ve finally managed to play after a year of slogging away trying to learn to read music. I have literally tried everything I found online to learn and I was considering giving the piano away to a friend when fortunately I found your lessons. Thanks a lot! Cheers
Toni Le Busque, USA www.tonilebusque.com
I’ve picked up more in the short time I’ve had your course (I’m up to Ballad Style) than with the all the other methods I’ve tried. Thanks so much for the most logically arranged, easiest to follow, and best ‘bang for the buck’ piano course I’ve seen, and used. Sincerely,
Barry Polis, Georgia, USA
Your course seems to be what I’ve been looking for for quite a while. I seen a gazillion of them out there but nothing compares to the way you present piano lessons. Good luck with it.”
Don Shonk, Michegan, USA. donspiano@ hotmail.com
Since I was little I have always wanted to play. I’m now 38 years old, have never played, and with your program I was able to go through the books and videos step by step and now I’m purchasing piano books to play songs to enjoy. I have to say that my husband was very skeptical but you have made him a true believer in your teaching program!
Soony Williams, California, USA
Hi Robin, A belated note to say a very big thank you for putting together such an interesting, motivating, straightforward approach to piano playing! I absolutely love the techniques, I’m playing everything now and it’s so exciting!!! I’m still only on Book 1 and I’ve learned so much already, I can’t imagine what you have in store for us in the other books.
Jane Grey, London, UK
Thanks for everything. With two days of use I already feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of your course. I think my other daughter, my wife and I are all anxious to learn too. If only we had another piano and possibly an additional computer to learn on
Dave Millette, Nevada, USA
Dear Robin, I just wanted to Thank You for the incredible program that you have put together. I must say that you over delivered on this one. I couldn’t believe it, and neither could my wife! Within an hour, I was making music. My whole family can’t believe I really learned all I have in less than 3 days! I will tell everyone I know, who’s ever thought about playing piano or keys that this is the real deal and I hope if you use this testimonial that all who read it will believe me.
Pastor JD Loveland, Santee, CA, USA
I have been inspired by your program. It feels like a musical renaissance for me. Thanks, Isobel
Isobel Siroy, Chanéac, France
“Hi Robin, Never thought I would say this I thought I had tried every method when it came to not only learning to play the piano but understanding the method.I am truly amazed at the progress I have made in THREE DAYS !!!! Your style is so easy to follow and the video along with the sheet music and the audio, no one could ask for anything more.
David Morgan , London, E6, UK firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi, I just wanted to say thank you for the fantastic Piano Tutor Books. I am nearing the end of the first book and can now confidently say this is the best tutor book I have ever come across.
Gary Cook, UK
Hi Robin, Your course is everything that you and others said it would be. The lessons are do-able and satisfying. Your videos and sound bites make everything quite clear. I didn’t think I could make the piano sound this good so quickly. I would highly recommend your course to anyone who wants to learn the piano. Thanks so much. You are making a dream come true.
Mike Epstein, Ramat Razi’el, Israel
Hi Robin, Recently bought your series and think it is incredible. My mother was a classically trained pianist and my father was a bar room “by ear” player and I always wanted to be sort of combination of them. Your set of books has made it all fun for me again. Could never be bothered by all the technical stuff, just wanted to sit and play. Piano For All is great. Thanks,
Andy Godfrey, NY, USA
Hi Robin, I recently purchased your product and I have to tell you: it’s absolutely wonderful!!! I’m still quite a beginner but I can follow your instructions and feel I improve daily! Though I have to admit I watch and listen to the videos thousands of times – but once it clicks in – it’s delightful. Thanks ever so much for your efforts of putting this whole set together, I’m really glad I’ve found you!
Eva Gegeny, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK
Robin, Thank you so much for this course. I have wanted to learn to play my favorite instrument as long as I can remember. Now that I’m an adult, I am so glad to not have to learn from the child books. Already being able to play popular songs just amazes me! I am having so much fun.
Vivian Bell, Fairborn, Ohio, USA
Hi Robin, just a quick note, this is david from barnegat, new jersey i started your course about three months ago, i am on book 3 and still think the course is just great. books 1 and 2 were just the best, i really look foward to sitting down at the piano now, and just have fun the licks and songs you use are just what i am looking for. i am 59 years young and grew up with all those tunes. keep up the great work and i will stay in touch, thanks again, david.
David Petraccoro, Barnegat, New Jersey, USA
For anyone questioning whether they should purchase this course or take a more traditional method to learning the instrumentI can testify that they would be much better off with Piano For All. I have just completed my degree in Music at the local college. The knowledge I gained from your course is largely responsible for my having the highest marks in Music Theory I and II.
David, Alabama, USA
I no longer think, “this is beyond me and only musical geniuses who have had hundreds of years of lessons are capable of playing”. In other words, this course is very liberating, simple to grasp, laid out in an easy to follow format and gets you playing in NO TIME! Why piano is not explained in the manner that PFA teaches is completely beyond me! Thanks so much. Sincerely
Bob Bowen, Conway, Arkansas
Hey Robin we have spoke awhile back about your course..I started on book one and it is awesome.. I play acoustic guitar and sing but i am so excited to play piano now, and it so easy to create chord progressions with your method that the second day already im playing let it be progression…what is your suggestion should i just follow each page and dont move on till i master each page? Thanks..it was a blessing finding you, music is my life.
Tommy, NYC, USA