Have you ever wanted to sit down and start playing the piano? A lot of people have because not only does it look kind of cool, but it’s also very versatile. You can play many different styles of music on the piano and much of the things that you learn, ie, music theory, how to read standard notation, etc, can be applied to other instruments.
Thankfully, the internet has brought down barriers and if you have access to it, you can learn pretty much anything you want. One of the downsides of it though is the over-saturation of information. A result of this is that some people have too many options or are left feeling as though learning a new skill is more complicated than it really is which brings us to our main question.
Learning the piano by yourself is easier than it ever has been due to e-books like PianoForAll, the availability of online courses, learning platforms, YouTube videos, educational blogs, and websites that cover the entire subject. However, it’s still important to have a teacher.
I took piano lessons as a kid so I understand the utility of having a teacher, in fact, I’m always harping on why it’s important to have a mentor in everything that you do. A teacher allows you to cut your learning curve by a significant margin, assuming you do everything they tell you and you actually learn from them. That said, there are a few learning platforms for you to check out, in conjunction, with getting a teacher.
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Reasons Why Learning Piano On Your Own Isn’t Hard
1) Because You Can Learn Piano from E-Books like PianoForAll
PianoForAll (get it from their website) is one of the most straightforward e-books I’ve seen on the piano and I’ve recommended it before, including in my article on why it’s the best for learning the piano for music production. What makes it a solid resource is that it’s designed to get you playing right away in the most efficient way, without getting bogged down by music theory and other principles.
It’s like a slow drip of what you need to know, but without being overbearing or out of touch with the average beginner’s comprehension of musical concepts. It is simple enough to play along to, which allows its users to be of a wide age range, from young to old and it takes you through chords, scales, standard notation, the keys of the piano, and more, all through video and text.
I appreciate the embedded video files into the text of PianoForAll, which I find gives the e-Book something special. And really, you need video content if you’re going to learn an instrument because you want to see how the technique looks in real life, and more importantly, you want to hear it.
Other things this program teaches you are to play by ear, read sheet music, improvise, and create your own music. Piano For All removes the sophistication and pretentiousness and gets you started immediately, and that’s what I like about it. This is the e-Book for you if you’re looking for a program that’s easy to understand, inexpensive, and you can take it on your own time and at your own pace.
2) You Can Also Learn Piano Through YouTube
Not unlike the guitar, YouTube, (also known as YouTube University), is a great place to start learning piano. There are many different piano instructors that cater to all types of learners. From the straightforward to the over-explainer, you’ll probably find a few you can learn from.
All you have to do is find the perfect instructor for you. Some instructors teach with a lot of fluff, and some do not. Your learning style will determine the type of personality you’ll learn from better. Some great instructors on YouTube for piano are:
Allysia, the creator of PianoTV (her channel), has a great YouTube channel. It is neatly organized, and you can tell exactly where to start. She discusses everything from proper posture to reading time signatures and sheet music. There are hundreds of videos from 3 minutes to 16 minutes, and all are excellent subjects for beginner to intermediate players.
On the posture note, I find this an important thing to talk about as a musician that sometimes gets overlooked. As a guitar player, I have shoulder pain every once in a while – although, I’ve since learned how to fix it – but had I known the proper way to sit from the beginning, I never would’ve had to do anything about it.
If you’re spending hours at a time doing something every day for years on end, you should do it correctly from the start. I think a good approach is to head over to the Playlist section and then find the playlist, “Preparatory/Beginner Level instruction.” You’ll learn a bit about everything.
Pianote (the channel) is a very well-done piano tutoring channel. The production quality of their videos is top-notch, and the instructors are very well prepared. The only thing it lacks, maybe, is a direct course of where to start.
She has a playlist where she teaches a beginning student from ground zero how to play. This is an excellent approach to teaching that I think could help a lot of beginning piano students. It’s called A Beginner’s Journey on the Piano (Kaitlyn’s Progress).
This YouTube channel takes a very traditional approach to music education, but through the piano. This means that their approach covers everything from sight-reading to technique and music theory. Because it’s geared towards kids, it’s laid out incredibly easy and will be easy for any age. There are over 100 videos that are free and you can download more lessons and workbooks for a fee.
Look for channels that have easy teaching styles and are well organized. The last thing you want as a new piano student is to find an unorganized instructor, so you have no clue where to start. Usually, the good instructors will have their videos grouped in playlists, so it’s easy to recognize where to start and where to go after that. I can’t emphasize this point enough: no organization will kill your direction.
3) You Can Learn Piano From Online Educational Platforms
Using an online platform that is tried and true is very important. Just like the YouTube channels, they have to be well organized and obviously deliver results to be successful. Below are a few good ones to look into. You’ll get a lesson plan along with instructors that want you to succeed. You don’t usually get that with YouTube or all-in-one programs.
This piano course (on their site) was co-created by the legendary artist Quincy Jones. You can even learn piano from Emmy and Grammy winner Harry Connick Jr. on this platform. They have a no-nonsense approach that hopes to grab you in on the first lesson.
There are many other online learning platforms for the piano as well, including Yousician and a few others, but I think that it’s important not to get bogged down by what’s out there. Get PianoForAll to start, followed by a real teacher, and then you can use YouTube videos as a way to supplement your learning. If you don’t want to get a teacher or can’t afford it, stick to PianoForAll and a subscription to Playground Sessions.
4) You Can Learn Piano on Inexpensive Digital Pianos
There was a time when learning piano was much more complicated because of accessibility. Before keyboards, you had to have access to a piano, which most people did not have. When keyboards first came out, they were more accessible but still expensive. Now, you can get a decent keyboard for reasonably cheap like this Yamaha YDP-103r from zZounds.
Assuming that you intend on learning the piano and applying these skills to music production, then I would recommend getting the Arturia KeyLab88 from zZounds, which is one of the most renowned keyboards on the market right now. This is a high-quality MIDI controller with 88 weighted keys (the size of a standard piano).
It’s important to note, however, that this is a MIDI controller which means you’ll need to use it with a DAW in order for it to work (how to connect a keyboard in my guide). If you don’t want to power up your computer or your device to play the piano, stick to an electric keyboard. Also, most keyboards these days will hook up to your computer so you can record. Here’s a brief video on how to connect MIDI devices as well:
If you’re an absolute beginner and you feel bogged down by all of the recommendations I’ve just thrown at you, then just get this Casio keyboard bundle from Amazon. It includes everything that you need to get started with the piano.
5) You Can Use Google
Yes, Google is great for everything. It’s especially great if you know what you are looking for. If you are already a seasoned musician, you already have a concept of what it will take to become good at the piano. You’ll need to know the theory, which you can learn through programs like Playground Sessions and more.
Whenever I want to quickly find something that I don’t currently have access to, like a strange chord voicing or something like that, I’ll just do a quick Google search to find it. Having done this, you’ll see some of the same websites popping up.
You’ll need to know scales and chord positions, which can be google searched in photos. You’ll also need to understand chord charts for your favorite songs that can be found on websites like Miriam Music or the Piano-Keyboard Guide. You can also look up how to train your ear using piano and start playing by ear. We all know Google has it all, so if you have a pretty good idea of what you want to go for, just type it in and go from there.
6) There Are Millions of Sheet Music Documents Online
One of the advantages of PianoForAll that I mentioned earlier is that there are a few classic songs in there for you to bust your chops on. That said, a lot of people get bored with learning anything. The sheer un-joy of concentrating for countless hours makes a lot of people cringe.
To play a few chords is not difficult at all, and since many of your favorite songs only have 3 to 4 chords total, it can be worth it to learn a few chord shapes and jam along to get the hang of it. Then add in some scales, and you can start branching off into theory. Additionally, there are resources where you can find all kinds of piano sheet music if you want to find it.
Sheet Music Resources:
Here are just a few:
Can I Teach Myself Piano?
To answer this question succinctly, yes, a person can teach themselves how to play the piano due to the resources available today via the internet. In the past, when we didn’t have the internet or instructional books to buy on Amazon, we used the playback button with trial and error.
That can be very hard at first, but the great thing is that there are only 12 notes to learn; you just have to know the correct octave. I mentioned above how PianoForAll takes a no-nonsense approach to teach piano with the absolute beginner in mind. It is a great way to learn because it’s at your own pace and easy to understand.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Piano By Myself?
For a beginner to music, it may take about a year of regular practice to become a passable piano player. For someone that hasn’t played another instrument before, it may take longer, only because you’ll also need to learn some music theory to understand what you are playing. I recommend at least an hour a day of dedicated, focused practice.
With the right instructor, you can start learning piano right away and avoid some of the common pitfalls we all run into. This also applies to YouTube videos and educational platforms. If the platform or channel is not well organized and the instructor isn’t great, then you’ll probably drop out before you start to get good.
Is It Bad To Self Teach Piano?
It’s not necessarily wrong to be a self-taught pianist, but there is much value in having an instructor. If you are new at the piano, there are so many things you have to be able to understand that it may be hard to know where to start if you just get on YouTube and start searching.
Courses and books become valuable when an instructor isn’t near because they usually have a learning path they follow. The things you need to look out for when you teach yourself piano are bad habits. You, unfortunately, won’t know what those bad habits are if you do not have an instructor. You can find some videos on YouTube on bad piano habits to help you correct them or teach yourself not to start with them.
Resources for Learning Piano
|PianoForAll||An inexpensive e-Book filled with video lessons and walkthrough tutorials|
|Playground Sessions||An online learning platform (in case you don’t want to get a teacher)|
|Musecore||A sheet music editor and there’s also a user-generated sheet music library|
|IMSLP||International Music Score Library Project – another big library of sheet music.|
|Casio Keyboard Bundle||A keyboard bundle that has everything you need to get started|
|Youtube channels for additional lessons|
|Piano Keyboard Guide||A website that features a lot of helpful diagrams and charts|
Important Things to Note About Learning Piano On Your Own
1) People Were Self Taught in the Past
We are fortunate in the way we can look up pretty much anything on the spot, but not even that long ago, there were no tabs or instruction manuals, and people had to learn by ear. Technically, this is the best way to learn because you’ll never be relying on a piece of music to tell you if you are playing the right note, you end up training yourself to trust your ear.