The Process of Learning to Play Piano
What’s involved in learning to play the piano, and what can I expect to learn in my piano lessons?
Reading piano notation: Music is a language, and understanding written piano notation is an important part of communicating with your piano teacher and with other musicians - including those no longer living, those great piano composers of the past. Once you understand this written form of the musical language you will be able to learn any piece on the piano just from observing the sheet music. Mastering a piece is a more difficult task, one which your piano teacher will help you with during your piano lessons!
Piano technique, posture, and hand position: There is an aspect of playing the piano that could be compared to athletics. A proper technique is necessary, including the ability to relax and control the tension in your hands and body, a correct posture and hand position, control over subtle differences in touch and articulation, coordination and independence of the hands and fingers, and proper use and control of the foot pedals.
Musicality and expression: Music is an art, and ultimately creative expression comes from within you. Beethoven, Duke Ellington, or the Beatles may have written the piece you are playing, but it’s you who are making the music now, in the moment, and it’s you who are expressing your inner thoughts, emotions, and dreams through the piano. Your piano teacher will work with you on finding your inner pianist, and breathing life into your piano playing.
Music theory: Understanding the building blocks of music - melody, harmony, rhythm, and form - will add depth to your playing. By observing the connections between notes, groups of notes, and different sections in your pieces you will develop a sense of how the choices composers make result in tension, resolution, and a manipulation of listeners’ expectations in order to communicate their musical message. You will also be able to memorize pieces more easily and quickly, and even compose and improvise your own music.
Preparing for performances and exams: Our piano teachers will work with you on polishing your pieces to a performance level. This involves both looking at the small details and nuances and knowing the piece as a whole extremely well. It may also mean memorizing your performance repertoire. You will also learn strategies for relaxing and avoiding stress and performance anxiety, and a specialised practise routine to be set in place during the last few weeks before a performance or exam.
Aural training: Music is sound, and to grow as a musician you must develop your ears and listening skills. This can involve everything from listening to music on a regular basis, finding recordings of the pieces you are learning, and going out to see live piano performances, to recognizing common sounds on the piano, being able to play back a piece or a melody after a few hearings, and learning music from recordings, without using sheet music.