6 Ways To Maximize Your Piano Learning Experience (For Beginners)
Many people who take online piano lessons and even traditional classes end up feeling stuck because they don’t know how to maximize their learning experience in-between and during lessons. No matter what skill you’re learning, there are always plateaus to overcome. Knowing how to power through these plateaus are essential to maximizing your learning experience and feeling accomplished with your progress.
Below, we’ll introduce 10 of the best tips to help you maximize your experience with online piano lessons, no matter what type of lesson you’re taking, and no matter what plateau you’re trying to climb past. These tips will help you overcome any obstacle you face in your lessons.
You’ll find that most of these tips seem like they’re for people who are taking online piano lessons. This is because many of our tips rely on the freedom to learn how to play piano your way, and where your lesson time isn’t limited to 30 minutes or an hour each week. These tips can still apply to people who are taking traditional lessons, but you may have to use these steps in your at-home piano practice instead of during the lesson itself.
Online piano lessons are quickly becoming a popular way to learn how to play piano. It gives you room to practice whenever you want, revisit classes, and explore new ideas. Traditional piano lessons usually only offer guided practice time anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour per week, which is far too little when you’re learning how to play piano. People value the idea that they can take online piano lessons and stay at home with their family, or take the classes when their schedule allows.
1. Have Fun by Giving Yourself Room to Play
There is one downside to online piano lessons teaching you how to play the piano. There’s no one there to tell you to take a break except yourself. Now some people may not experience this, but for many the habit of over-working will seep into their piano practice. It’s important, especially when you’re learning piano online, to learn how to have fun and give yourself room to play. It may sound contradictory – after all, you are playing the piano – but this is dedicated time to play without any seriousness removing yourself of the fear of failure or sounding bad.
Take some time after your online piano lessons to sound bad on purpose.
Get up from your piano and turn off whatever it is you’re using to learn how to play piano. Turn off any other source of noise or distraction. Some people even turn the lights off in this step. Next, sit back down at your piano or keyboard and run your hands along the keys. Press the keys in any random order you feel like and let yourself purposefully sound bad.
Do this for a couple of minutes at least. Once you’re done you can turn whatever you turned off in the first step back on. You can then resume your day or continue to practice what you learned in your last lesson to help it sink in.
By doing this you’re doing a couple of things. First, you’re providing yourself with an extreme example or reference of how to play piano poorly. Secondly, you’re giving yourself the mental and emotional space to fail. Many people build up a fear of failure the closer they get to achieving something. It’s important to give yourself the space to fail so you’re not always outrunning your fear – or feel disappointed if you do slip up.
The second method is like the first method, but with a few variations. This method focuses more on play than it does on removing your fear of failure.
First, stand up from your piano and turn on anything that can add noise or distraction. This could be a television, your online piano lessons, radio, or alarm clock, and so on. Sit back down at your keyboard.
If you have sheet music in front of you, turn the book upside down and play the song to your best interpretation. If you don’t have sheet music, think of the first song that comes to mind and try to play it without any references. With all the noise, none of the sounds will mesh, and you’re creating a noisy room without structure or sense. Nothing must have a purpose or a goal here.
Do this for as long as you’d like. If it is uncomfortably noisy, you can wear headphones or earplugs to help drown out some of the noise. Keep in mind that you still want to be able to experience the noise at a tolerable level.
This is the same kind of play that happens when a toddler wants to fingerpaint and seems to get the paint everywhere but the paper. You have quite a bit more motor control than a toddler, but it helps your brain “loosen up” and take the piano practice a little less seriously. The result of doing this is that it will help relieve any stress or frustration you’re experiencing while learning how to play piano. This helps you learn more and focus on your online piano lessons better.
2. Walk Away From the Keyboard From Time to Time
If you’re feeling frustrated with your online piano lessons or practice session, it’s important to learn how to walk away from your keyboard. Minimizing frustration while you learn how to play piano is one of the most important lessons you’ll have to learn, and it can be applied to many other skills and experiences in life as well.
When you’re learning how to play piano, there are times when you’ll start feeling frustrated or stressed out about a concept, and surprisingly, walking away from the issue can help you solve it. The important step is not to feel frustrated or disappointed if you must take these breaks.
If you’re taking online piano lessons, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the class options like rewinding and pausing. This is one of the many benefits people see in taking online piano lessons. These options mean you can take the lesson whenever you choose, or whenever your schedule allows. This also means you have the flexibility to walk away at any point in the lesson and come back when you need to, unlike learning how to play piano in a traditional class.
When you’re beginning to feel frustrated with your online piano lessons or practice, stop playing and take a moment.
Close your eyes and focus on your breath, breathing deeply two or three times. Open your eyes and stand up from the piano. From here, you can take a variety of paths to lessening your frustration and getting your mind away from the problem.
One option is to take a walk or jog around your neighborhood. Another option is to go to a park or enjoy a variety of other activities like knitting or swimming; whatever you have accessible at the time. You should step away from the piano for 15-30 minutes to let yourself relax and process the problem in the background of your thoughts.
Now, remember that you’re not trying to avoid your traditional or online piano lessons, but you’re not trying to think about how to play piano better either. What you’re trying to do is give your mind a break. This is especially important if you’re trying to tackle multiple problems at once.
3. Feel More Motivated by Setting Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
Setting short and long-term goals are one of the key practices when learning how to play piano. Many online piano lessons will suggest that you do this, but many people think that it is unrealistic or simply not worth it.
The truth of the matter is: not only is it good practice in everyday life, but you’ll find that you feel more motivated and satisfied with your progress when you hit those goals. There is a trick to setting these goals, however, and we’ll outline the steps below.
Especially when you’re learning how to play piano for the first time, it’s easy to overestimate your skills and feel disappointed when you can’t play that song – which a master pianist spent five years on – in a week. It’s important to estimate your skill level when you’re first learning how to play piano. Be realistic about your skill and how long it might take you to achieve the goals you set.
Most importantly, remember that these are not goals that are set in stone like many online piano lessons or traditional teachers might lead you to believe. You can adjust your goals at any time.
Setting Short-Term Goals
When you begin learning how to play piano, you’re not always sure where it will take you or what you’ll gain from it. Set a long-term goal so you can have something to strive for and keep in mind during your online piano lessons.
Find a piece of ruled paper and your favorite pen, just like when you wrote down your short-term goals. Sit down with this piece of paper, and take the top and bottom of it, folding it in half. Now, take the sides of the paper and fold that in half, just like you did before. You should now have a smaller, square piece of paper. On the front of this paper, write your title.
An example of some long-term goal titles can be “Long-Term Goals: From Online Piano Lessons to Being the Best Pianist Around” to, “In the Beginning, I Learned How to Play Piano.” Make the title something fun and playful that you’ll enjoy looking back on.
Next, open the paper back up and, on the inside, create a list down the side for “1.” “2.” and “3.”
Write down three realistic long-term goals that you believe you can achieve. Whether you put “Learn how to play piano within six months” or “finish my current lesson and find new online piano lessons within six months,” it’s up to you. Give yourself ample time to complete each goal.
4. Identify Your Strengths to Help Solve Problems
When you’re learning how to play piano, whether you’re taking online piano lessons or you’re being taught by a traditional teacher, it’s important to find and get to know your strengths. Everyone has different strengths, and few traditional teachers teach with this in mind. Therefore, it’s important for you to understand and work with it during your online piano lessons and at-home practice.
Your strengths can be something as simple as intuitively knowing what keys play what notes, which will treat you well when learning new songs. It could also be something like enjoying learning about how pianos work when each key is struck, which will help you when you’re working on a new method of how to play piano.
To identify your strengths, first get three pieces of paper and a pen and sit down. Fold each piece of paper in half. Take the first one and title it “Strengths,” the second “Problems” and the third “Solutions.”
Next, take your paper titled “Strengths” and list 5 of your piano playing strengths.
Only when you’re done listing your strengths, take the second paper titled “Problems” and list five things you’d like to improve, or problems you’d like to get past. You are problem-solving here, so it’s important in this step not to think of these items as problems with your skill, but instead problems you can and want to solve with your skill.
Finally, this is where the brainstorming comes in. Set your “Strengths” paper in front of you, next to your “Problems” paper. Now, push those away and place the “Solutions” paper in front. You should be able to see all three papers. Now you have clear view of your strengths and problems, and you can come up with as many solutions as you need to.
5. Get to Know How You Learn Best
You may learn how to play piano better from physically playing or by watching someone else play. You may even learn best by listening to other people who are learning how to play piano. What this is called is a primary learning system; it’s how your brain is wired to understand things best.
Auditory learning is when you learn by listening to other songs or other people play, while kinesthetic learners will learn how to play piano best by getting their hands on the keys and trying it out. Visual learners will grasp the concept better by watching someone else play or watching videos that visualize the type and length of the notes with each key press. While everyone can learn how to play piano in any form, most people have up to two primary ways they learn best.
Whether you’re learning how to play piano through online piano lessons, self-teaching videos, or with a traditional teacher, it’s important to understand how you learn best. This will help you optimize your practice sessions and create a strategy around your primary learning system.
First, sit down and think about many common phrases you use in conversation.
If you’re someone who commonly uses phrases like “I get that,” or “I catch your drift,” you may be a kinesthetic or “hands-on” learner. You may learn best by writing things down, analyzing and even mimicking how the practice felt later.
You may benefit from shaping your keys while you’re learning how to play piano. Grab some heavy-duty masking tape or vinyl lettering and tear off a piece. Next, get some scissors and cut the piece of tape into a C shape. Start from one end of the piano and place the tape on the C key, around where your fingers sit.
Next, tear off another piece of tape and cut that piece into a D shape, placing it onto your piano’s D key. Repeat these steps for the E, F, G, A and B keys. Once you’ve completed this, repeat the steps again until you’ve placed a piece of tape on each key.
This will create a raised edge on each key in the shape of the corresponding note, helping you learn each note by touch, much the same way people learn to read Braille. This is especially useful when you’re self-teaching or taking online piano lessons.
Once you begin to learn the notes, remove one type of letter, for example, the E’s, until you get used to it. One by one, as you learn how to play piano without looking at each note, remove another piece of tape (for example, the F’s this time, the G’s next, and so on) until you have a tape-free piano and know the notes by heart.
If you’re a hands-on learner, using strategies like these to incorporate touch into your online piano lessons and at-home practice will help you learn piano faster and more efficiently.
If you commonly use phrases like “I hear you,” or “that rings a bell,” you may be an auditory learner. You may sound something out to memorize it, like a phone number or new notes.
You may benefit from listening to yourself as you learn how to play piano. This will help you pick out what might need improvement. First, grab a tape recorder (or the sound recorder on your smartphone.) Set it to record and start playing like normal, whether you’re practicing notes, attempting a new song, or following your online piano lessons.
When you’re finished playing, stop the recording and save it. You may want to have a pen and paper nearby to take notes. Grab a pair of headphones to help block outside noise and plug them into your recording device. Next, put on the headphones and listen to your recording. When you find things that you would like to improve or new ideas you would like to try out, write them down. Once you’ve finished listening to the recording, take off the headphones and repeat the process, recording your practice again. Don’t forget to try out your new ideas and improvements.
If you’re an auditory learner, using strategies like these to incorporate more sound into your practice will help you learn how to play piano faster and more efficiently.
If you find yourself using phrases like “I see where you’re coming from,” or “I can’t quite picture that,” you may be a visual learner. You may learn how to play piano best by seeing someone else play, or drawing diagrams on a whiteboard.
You may benefit from compiling a variety of online piano lessons and videos that show an up-close view of other pianists playing the song you’re trying to learn, or videos that show each note as it is played.
You can also incorporate a color strategy that helps you visualize the order of notes. To do this, get a roll of clear tape. Tear off a piece and place it on each of your piano keys. Next, choose a variety of colored, permanent markers. Choose the color of your first set of notes – we’ll start with red – and mark a red dot on the clear tape.
Next, pick a different color – we’ll use blue this time – and mark a dash on the next set of keys that you’ll be playing. On the third set of notes, we’ll use green and mark triangles.
Continue this step, combining colors and symbols to help you create a visual reminder of the notes you need to play to learn the song.
If you’re a visual learner, using strategies like these to add visual aids to your practice will help you learn how to play piano faster and more efficiently.
6. Make Your Own Routine
It’s time to make your own routine.
I know, I know, if you’re like me, you hate routines. There’s a right way to do it, and it involves turning it into something that is not a chore, but something fun or leisurely. It’s important to learn what routine works best for you and implement it as you see fit.
There are very few people who will argue that when you’re trying to learn how to play piano, it’s important to practice regularly. Regular practice will help you when you need to go over concepts you may be stuck on, and helps you remember concepts you practiced or learned from previous sessions. Regular practice and routines work whether you’re taking traditional or online piano lessons.
Making your own routine is important, and takes into consideration your preferences and schedule. Some people enjoy playing the piano while their morning coffee brews, while others prefer to wind down at the end of the night and practice some notes as a part of their bedtime routine.
There are a few methods you can use to help create your routine and make it a part of your everyday life.
The first method is to purchase a daily calendar or use the one on your smartphone.
When you first wake up, pick up your dry-erase markers (or phone) and write in when you plan to set aside time to practice or take your online piano lessons. Even if you’re at home all day, it’s important to give yourself at least 30 minutes – preferably an hour – each day to practice what you’re learning. Now, you can also break up your practice over several 10-minute sessions during the day; the choice is yours.
Having this calendar reminder somewhere visible will help you remember your practice schedule.
The second method is to use your alarm clock (or smartphone alarm) to remind you to practice.
Set your alarm for a time when you are most likely to be free, or when you want to have your practice. This can be anywhere from the time you wake up, to when you get home, to when you go to sleep. In fact, some people even get up in the middle of the night to devote time to their piano practice, which is a great option for people who tend to be creative during the nighttime hours.
The third method is to create an “activity routine” around your piano practice. Whether you create a routine of getting dressed up in coattails after work to take your online piano lessons, or at the end of the day you use a routine already in place to practice.
This could be something like practicing piano for 10 minutes in-between each bedtime action such as brushing your teeth, flossing, and putting on your pajamas. You could also go for an evening walk after (or before) your piano practice.
Sit down with two pieces of ruled paper. Fold them both in half and on your first sheet, describe your normal, daily routine. These are things that you do every day (or almost every day.) Once you are done, take your second piece of paper and describe your daily routine again, but this time, find ways to fit your piano practice in-between daily activities.
By the end of this second sheet, you should be able to find time to play piano for at least 30 minutes each day. Place the sheet somewhere visible where you’ll see it throughout your day and be reminded of your practice.
Using these methods while you learn how to play piano will help you integrate your practice with daily routines to make those routines more fun.
So, you’ve made it this far. First, congratulations! You’ve read several different ways to make your piano practice more interesting, and now you’re probably itching to go bust out some new notes.
With newfound inspiration, it’s important not to hold onto it for too long without letting yourself play. Otherwise, it might dissipate for a short time, which can mean a skipped practice or feeling disappointed. So, bust out those few notes and know you can always return to your piano at any time.
If you take any of the tips we’ve outlined and apply one today, sit down and set some goals. These goals will help you stay motivated while you learn how to play piano, which is a creative process that never truly stops teaching you new things.
Once you’re done setting goals, get back to playing that piano and choose any of the steps we’ve outlined to work on for yourself.
Remember to take the process as fast or as slow as you need to. After all, to get the most out of your online piano lessons or at-home practice, you’ll need to set your own pace. You can pursue one goal at a time, or you can work on multiple goals – the choice is yours.
If you’ve found any of these tips helpful, do your part as a fellow musician and share them with your friends. No matter what you take away from these tips, remember that it’s important to understand how you learn best, pace yourself, and customize your experience to your own routine.