How To Learn To Play The Piano

How To Learn To Play The Piano

Are you completely new to the piano and want to learn how to play?  Or perhaps you’ve been having a go at some of your favourite songs on your own and are wondering how you can improve?  Check out our guide for answers to common questions and plenty of helpful tips on how to play the piano!

What Is The Best Way To Learn Piano?


In a previous post , we mentioned that the best way to learn the piano is by taking regular lessons and practicing during the time between lessons.  Wondering how exactly to get started?  Follow these steps to ensure you’ll succeed:


  1. Get Your Own Piano


Many students think at first that, to learn to play the piano, they only need to sit at the instrument during lessons, and the lessons by themselves are enough for them to make progress.  In fact, though, you’ll need to practice during the time between lessons in order to play well, and to do this you’ll need your own piano.  Some students are understandably unsure about investing in an instrument straight away, but it’s important to remember that if you want to succeed at something, you’ll need the proper equipment first.  There are plenty of options available for all spaces and budgets; you can check out guidance here to get started choosing the best piano for you.


  1. Choose the Right Teacher


It’s essential that you work with a capable teacher to make progress at piano lessons.  Many students are unsure of what to look for in a good piano teacher.  You’ll want to ask about their credentials, as they should have completed or be working towards a university degree in music (ideally with piano as their primary instrument) to ensure they have the formal training necessary to confidently guide students.  Most teachers already have prior teaching experience as well.  It’s also important to choose a teacher whose personality and teaching style suit you so you develop a positive working relationship.

You can look for a piano teacher by checking out the many websites and listings online, or by calling a music school near you.  Some teachers require students to travel to them for lessons, either at the teacher’s home or a studio where the teacher is based.  Other teachers are willing to come to students’ homes for lessons.

You can read more about the teachers at Monica Frank Piano Studio if you’re thinking of booking with us, we guarantee all of them are both skilled and friendly, and lessons are conveniently offered in the comfort of your home!


  1. Schedule Regular Lessons


Discuss with the teacher you’ve chosen about setting a time slot for lessons.  Piano lessons are typically booked once weekly, for lengths of 30, 45, or 60 minutes.  Most teachers expect students to commit to a regular time slot, so you’ll want to set aside time in your schedule each week for your piano lessons.  Busy adult students may find that their schedules do not allow for lessons every week, and many teachers can work with them every other week instead.

Some students wonder if it’s helpful to take more than one lesson each week, or longer lessons than 60 minutes.  The answers to these questions generally depend on the type of student.

If you are just starting out with piano lessons, it may be easiest to stick to one lesson a week to allow sufficient practice time.  However, some more advanced students prefer two lessons a week if they are practicing a lot or preparing for a specific performance.  The maximum length of most piano lessons is 60 minutes to ensure students stay focused and do not become overwhelmed by too much new information.  But especially serious, enthusiastic students may request longer lesson times if there are many things they’d like to work on with the teacher.


  1. Buy Your Teacher’s Recommended Materials


Each teacher has a particular way they like to work with students depending on age and skill level.  For beginners especially, teachers will often have specific books they prefer.  You can ask your teacher either before or at your first lesson if there is anything you should order to practice from and use at lessons.  In addition to music books, you’ll want to have a notebook ready at each lesson so your teacher can write down your assignments along with practice advice.


  1. Practice Between Lessons


At each lesson, your teacher will listen to what you’ve been working on since the last lesson.  From there, depending on your progress, your teacher will decide what to assign you for the upcoming week.  Practicing between lessons is the most essential part of learning to play the piano to ensure you do well, so that you always have something to show your teacher at each lesson.


How Long Does It Take To Learn The Piano?


The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors unique to each individual student.  In any case, though, the surest way to make progress quickly learning to play the piano is to practice consistently each week.  The more you practice, the better you’ll get.

It’s also useful to consider how long it takes to reach smaller, more specific musical goals, rather than broader questions that can be tricky to measure.  For example, you may first want to know how long it takes to master basic music reading skills, like recognising notes on the staff and counting note values, rather than how long it takes to play a finished piece.

Additionally, you may want to further define what learning the piano means to you: are you looking to play your favourite pop tunes, or difficult classical concert repertoire?  You can set your musical goal in any way that suits you, just make sure to keep in mind that what the goal is will largely determine the answer to the question of how long achieving it will take.

When you start piano lessons, your teacher will introduce new concepts in a gradual way that helps you build new skills incrementally on top of previous ones.  This is how learning any instrument will be: a process in which there is always something new to learn and a way to improve.  Many students ask the question “how long does it take to learn the piano?” under the impression that there will eventually come a time when they’ve learned everything about the piano there is to know, and with the implication that they may not consider lessons worthwhile if reaching that point takes more time than they’d like. There’s no rush when developing new skills; keep in mind that learning an instrument is an ongoing process that offers many challenges and rewards.


Is Piano Hard To Learn By Yourself?


Some people initially try to teach themselves how to play the piano, combining guesswork at the instrument with skimming the internet for educational articles and YouTube tutorials.  There’s certainly nothing wrong with doing some exploring on your own, and it can help you determine how interested you are in the piano.  It’s possible to learn some basic things about the piano by yourself, like how to find the various lettered keys.

However, you most likely will discover that, by a certain point, you are not sure where to look for the next level of information or how to know you’ve covered everything you need to understand.  Additionally, the internet’s many outlets for reading about the piano may prove confusing if you are a beginner and don’t understand the terms used or the way concepts are explained in a certain article or video.  Like most skills, playing the piano gets more difficult to learn by yourself the farther along you get because you can only learn so much without professional guidance.


Do I Need Piano Teacher To Learn To Play The Piano?


If you really want to succeed playing any instrument, it’s essential to work with a qualified music teacher.  A piano teacher will provide you with weekly instruction to guide your progress.  On your own, it can be difficult to know where to start or if you’re missing any important concepts along the way.  But an experienced teacher will introduce you to the piano in a gradual, accessible, and thorough way, as well as recommend specific materials for you to practice from during the time between lessons.

Your weekly lessons with your teacher will serve as checkpoints.  At each lesson, the teacher will listen to what you’ve been working on since the last lesson and offer constructive feedback.  You can then consider that feedback in your practice for the upcoming week, as well as tackle any new assignments your teacher has given you.

Lots of people wonder when they’ll stop needing a teacher, and often think professional pianists are experts who stopped taking lessons ages ago because they learned everything there is to know about the instrument.  The truth of the matter, though, is that there’s always room for improvement and for a second pair of ears to critique your playing.  Even seasoned concert pianists still take lessons and ask for opinions from other musicians to sharpen their skills and get a fresh perspective!

At Monica Frank Piano Studio, we have many different qualified teachers who can help you reach your musical goals.  If you’ve been trying to learn how to play the piano on your own and want to take your skills to the next level, our friendly team of professionals will be happy to help!


3 Basic Steps To Help You Learn The Piano


Once you’ve gotten started with regular lessons from a teacher, you’ll need to practice during the time between lessons.  We have a few tips to help you with your weekly assignments:


  1. Start Slowly and Build Speed Later


Many students, beginner through advanced, are really eager to play their pieces as finished products, and as a result can often prioritise pushing the speed of the piece over ensuring the technical aspects of it are secure.  When you’re just starting piano lessons, this can be especially problematic as you want to make sure you’re training your fingers properly, which is usually hindered by playing too quickly.  The early months of your piano lessons will be spent building basic musical and technical skills, so make sure to allow yourself plenty of time to develop them.  Accuracy always matters more than speed!


  1. Practice Smart


The timing of your practicing is important, as when you practice and how long each session is will influence your success.  It’s best to practice whenever possible at a time of day when you know you’ll have enough energy to stay focused.  For example, if you know you’ll be too tired after coming home from school or work to practice in the evening, it may be best to practice in the morning before you leave home for the day.

It’s also more helpful to practice in a few short sessions each day rather than one long session.  You’re more likely to maintain concentration for short stints; so, two 15-minute practice sessions could work better for you than one 30-minute interval.


  1. Pinpoint Sections in Your Pieces


Pay attention to how you’re practicing: are you often simply starting from the beginning of the piece, playing through to the end, then looping back to the beginning and starting all over again?  Many students get into this habit, as it’s a common way for people to practice.  However, simply repeating your piece several times over isn’t the most effective way to spend your practice time, as it usually just reinforces the parts of the piece you’re good at and glosses over the parts that need extra work.


Break each piece into several smaller sections, and see which sections are more difficult for you than others.  Prioritise your practicing to focus more on the hard parts so you become just as confident with those as you already are with the easier parts of the piece.  You’ll find that after some time practicing this way, running through your piece from start to finish goes more smoothly and sounds uniformly better.


If you’d like more tips for beginners starting piano lessons, check out this video by Tim, host of the YouTube channel Piano Lessons on the Web.  Tim’s video highlights some of the points mentioned in this blog post, as well as some extra ones that are also effective:

At Monica Frank Piano Studio, we’re dedicated to helping every student get off to the right start taking piano lessons.  We work with students of all ages and skill levels, so beginners are always welcome.  We’re also happy to offer lessons to children and adults alike.  To book a trial lesson with us, you can fill out our contact form , email us at, or call us on 07516148393 and we’ll be happy to help!