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Learning to Play the Piano


When learning piano, it is helpful to have some or all of the following tips in mind:







1.  Practice scales and arpeggios.  This helps develop technique and ability to physically execute the music.


2.  Use a metronome constantly in practicing.  This will allow you to develop a strong rhythm and sense of the beat.  Without timing, your music falls apart.


3.  Learn and master the basic repertoire before moving on to more difficult material.  Know the powerful yet technically less challenging pieces such as the Bach Inventions, Debussy’s Children’s Corner, and other works by Grieg, Mozart, and Beethoven.  There is no need to push yourself into the more difficult repertoire until you are ready, such as some of the Beethoven Sonatas, Prokofiev Sonatas, more complex Liszt pieces, or Ravel’s virtuosic works.


4.  Keep your hands, face, and body relaxed.  Be careful you are not contorting your face or gathering tension in your hands.  Try to play as naturally as possible.  A goal is to execute even the most complicated passages as though you are hardly working at all.


5.  Learn the basics of music notation.  It is very important to understand notation, so that you can appropriately interpret what the composer has written.  A composer painstakingly writes out each slur, fortissimo, staccato, and rest—you need to fully understand these elements so that you can play what the composer intended.


6.  Learn the basics of theory.  The more theory you know, the more you will be able to produce meaningful, interesting music.  When you understand what makes a cadence, or why a scale was used in conjunction with a particular harmony, you are able to produce better music.


7.  Practice slowly.  A common learning technique is to play a piece very slowly, and with the metronome.  This allows you to practice playing challenging parts of the piece, while maintaining a steady rhythm.  Once you can comfortably play slowly, you will find you are better able to play faster and still maintain accuracy and rhythm.


8.  Practice for as long as you are able, but take breaks.  The more time you can spend practicing, the more your playing will likely improve.  But remember also to take breaks every 15-30 minutes, to give your hands a chance to rest and recuperate from the activity and prevent tendonitis.





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