You want to learn how to play the piano and are looking for a guide to beginners piano. The question you need to ask now is ‘what is the best way to learn’.
The most obvious choice is to go to a qualified piano teacher and get some traditional one on one piano lessons.
These days however there are a few more options available to you. There are a plethora of tutors and guides available for home study. Some of these are obviously better than others and your choice will depend a lot on where you want to go with your lessons. A little later on in this article we will be presenting some of the questions you should be asking yourself before you decide on your tuition method.
Going online can offer even more possibilities for home study. There are numerous reputable courses available in many formats. The most common is a downloadable book or eBook which explains the basics and leads you through a series of structured lessons which you need to practice and perfect before moving on to the next.
Also available are audio files for download. These are usually in the popular MP3 format and are similar to the traditional methods or tutors but they contain verbal instructions and played examples of how your exercises should sound. This can be really useful especially if you are just starting out.
The natural progression from audio files is of course video. This format can be really useful as you get an over the shoulder look at the keyboard of your tutor whilst they are playing the exercises. You get to ‘see’ the fingering patterns and techniques and this visualization at times can make things just that little bit easier. The only drawback with video files is that they can be quite cumbersome and occupy a lot of disk space and download bandwidth making their delivery somewhat awkward.
The best of the online guides offer a combination of all of these formats and contain the weight of the material in the form of an eBook with examples recorded on MP3 files so you can hear how they should be played. There is usually a short video per chapter showing a little about the techniques that will be used and how to execute them.
There are many online guides available and you need to get clear on a few things before you make your final choice.
– What is your current level?
Are you a complete beginner or do you have a basic knowledge of piano playing already or maybe you have a classical training to a certain degree and would like to learn how to improvise, play from chord charts or play jazz.
You need to find out the method of tuition offered. Some will teach you how to play by ear and others will teach you how to read music, others will teach you how to use chord charts. Some are more centered towards the absolute beginner and others are more suited for perfecting the already proficient player.
– What sort of piano do you have?
Will you be practicing on a traditional acoustic piano or will you be using a digital keyboard or even an organ.
Most of the tuition methods are geared towards the traditional piano and there is no reason why all of the techniques shouldn’t be applied to digital keyboards or organs. There are some specialized guides that are written specially for organs and stand alone keyboards which make use of auto-chord systems. There are also those that are written for organs which have a set of foot pedals.
– Do you want to learn to read music or would you prefer to play by ear?
It can be quite a long process learning to read music and becoming ‘fluent’ so to speak. Playing by ear or learning to read chord charts will probably get you up and playing a little bit quicker. Check out which methods are offered before purchasing your guide.
One of the best guides I have found is rocket piano. It contains multiple eBooks, audio examples and video files. It caters for the absolute beginner and also for more the experienced player. There are also guides to playing Jazz and playing Gospel. There are many other guides available to choose from for your home study.
Using home study methods is fine but it can be quite easy to slip into bad habits which if unchecked can be very hard to correct at a later date and will impede your improvement beyond a certain point. A great way to learn if you are really serious is to use a home study method and to take occasional traditional beginners piano lessons with a qualified tutor to keep you on track and free of bad habits.