So you decided to take the plunge and learn how to play your piano or keyboard? You’ve explored the benefits on online lessons? Maybe you tried before and it didn’t stick or maybe you have never even touched a piano or keyboard before. Either way, make sure you are picking the right way for you to learn the piano. Most people don’t realize there are different ways to learn to play so it’s important to understand what the different options are and to determine ahead of time what the best way to learn piano is for you.
Learn Songs on the Piano
Playing the piano is all about playing songs. It blows my mind how much time traditional piano lessons typically spend on activities that are not actual songs… drilling scales, boring theory, etc. If we’re not playing songs on the piano, what are we really doing? Where do you start?
There are four main ways you can learn a new song on the piano and therefore four ways you can learn piano:
1. Sheet Music
2. By Ear
3. YouTube Tutorials
4. Chords & Improvisation (my personal favorite!)
Let’s first look at each in a little more detail then go over which is the best way to learn piano for you.
1 – Sheet Music
Sheet Music is the most popular way to learn new songs. This is how I learned piano for twelve years, and it was the least effective way for me to learn. Sure, once you FINALLY learned a new song it was cool, but the pain to get there just wasn’t worth it. There was one song (Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin) I remember was so complicated that it took me a year to learn. Who has time for that? Learning how to read sheet music in the first place takes a lot of time. And even if you know how to read sheet music, it still takes a long time to learn a new song via sheet music. If you weren’t born with some amazing natural ability to read sheet music, I recommend you steer clear.
2 – “By Ear”
Next, we have “By Ear.” Some people are born with an “ear” for music.
They can recognize notes, chords, and melodies by listening. They can play the piano based purely on something they heard. I’m seriously jealous of these people. I’ve tried and tried to get better at this technique, but sadly it isn’t my thing either. By now you are seeing that I’m really not some musical prodigy, but a regular person like you!
3 – YouTube Tutorials
Third, we have YouTube Tutorials which are getting more and more popular as people get mobile devices, tablets, and anything else that allows them to open the YouTube app while sitting at their piano or keyboard. YouTube tutorials can be great, but if you really think about it, they have a striking resemblance to sheet music. Instead of the notes and rhythm being written on a piece of paper, you have someone showing you in a video EXACTLY what to play and when to play it. I always say that typical piano instruction turns you into a robot–if you’re parroting back what someone else tells you to do, are you really learning music?
4 – Chords & Improvisation
Finally, we have Chords & Improvisation. I’m a big fan of this method. Obviously, the above methods do work for some people or they wouldn’t exist. But for the average person who doesn’t want to play piano professionally, who doesn’t have a lot of time, and who wants to be able to sound like they know what they’re doing as quickly as possible, then Chords & Improvisation (a.k.a what you’re learning in Piano In 21 Days) is the way to go.
The Best Way for Learning to Play Piano (Hint: Apply the 80/20 Principle)
There is a principle called the 80/20 principle–typically 80% of results come from only 20% of the effort. For example, in a business you can usually identify 20% of the everyday activities that account for 80% of the revenue. It’s a way to learn piano fast. Are you a student? I bet only 20% of the material you are studying accounts for at least 80% of what is on the test. The key to applying this principle is to identify the 20% and direct your focus towards that.
The biggest breakthrough I had in the development of Piano In 21 Days was applying the 80/20 principle to the piano. What if I could identify the 20% of the piano-learning process which gives 80% of the results? Most people don’t want to be concert pianists–not because that wouldn’t be cool, but because of the YEARS of tedious practice it would take to get there. What if instead I could offer you a way to sound like you know what you are doing on the piano, learn how to play in your free time, learn the ability to play a nice version of most modern songs, and, best of all, a time-frame of that just WEEKS to get there. Which would you prefer?
Neither Sheet Music, nor “By Ear”, nor YouTube tutorials fits into the model of learning quickly and being easy enough that anyone can learn it. Chords & Improvisation DOES fit in this model, is in my opinion the best way to learn piano, and is the focus of how I want to teach you to play piano. What does a beginner need to do?
The Next Steps
By this point you should know the best way to learn piano. If you’re ready to give chords and improvisation a shot, then go ahead and grab a copy of my free workbook and start actually learning to play the piano today.