What Would You Look Like Playing The Piano?

What Would You Look Like Playing The Piano?

A lot of people talk about learning to play the piano, but not everyone follows through on their desires. 

When Ryan Gosling was to showcase his piano playing talents in the movie La La Land, he spent three months practicing two hours a day to perfect his skill. 

While few of us can hope to learn at that speed – we have busy lives too – there is something about his actions that we can all learn from. 

  • Set a goal and stick with it.
  • Choose the type of music you wish to learn. 
  • Pay attention to fundamentals and proper technique.
  • Learn common patterns such as chords and scales.
  • Remain dedicated. It’s the best way to learn. 

The best place to start is to see yourself playing the piano. Would you be sitting at home with a small acoustic piano? Would you be sitting in a grand hall at a grand piano, playing for an audience? 

This can give you the motivation you need to keep moving forward. It can also set the stage for where to invest your time and money. Choose the right piano for your needs. If you want to play on a grand piano in front of an audience, why not invest in one as you learn? 

It’s equally important to play what you love. While learning the basics is important, there are many ways to incorporate different genres of music into your daily learning patterns. Music comes in a variety of skill sets, genres, and ability levels. Work with an instructor who can help select the right training materials for you. 

Remaining dedicated is also the best way to achieve your goals. Schedule your practice and stick with it. Make piano a part of your life, and you’re more likely to continue with your goals. 

Finally, bring more music into your life. When was the last time you took in a concert, listened to a symphony, or attended group lessons? There are many ways to incorporate piano playing into your life. Get creative. You never know where it might lead. 

Is It Time To Tune Your Piano?

Is It Time To Tune Your Piano?

When you invest in a quality piano, it can make beautiful music for years to come. 

But to keep your piano playing well, it takes a little TLC from time to time. 

If you want to create music that’s pleasing to the ear, it’s important to tune your piano regularly. 

For many piano owners, the thought of bringing in a tuner periodically throughout the year can be a little intimidating. While there isn’t a set schedule for when to call in a professional tuner, there are a few things you can watch for to know when it’s time for tuning. 

Listen to the piano’s pitch

Have you ever watched professionals tune their instruments? Even singers warm up by racing for the right pitch. That’s to ensure all instruments match while playing, and to ensure your piano makes beautiful music. You can test the note yourself. The most used test note is A440. This is the A note above middle C. When this note is in tune, it will vibrate at a rate of 440 times per second. When in tune, every instrument playing will be at this same pitch. 

Listen while playing different notes

Most acoustic pianos have, on average, 88 keys. This contains seven octaves plus three keys below bottom C. To allow all 88 keys to create sound, they are connected to around 230 strings. Each key will be attached to two or three strings, depending on the sound it will make. As you’re playing different notes, you may notice a wavering sound between the notes. That may be competing strings touching each other, or even canceling each other out. If it isn’t strung properly, it’s time for professional tuning. 

Play your scales

When properly tuned, you should be able to run up the octaves and have all the notes line up. It sounds “right.” When something is off, this quick repetition will highlight where problems occur. You can also test this by playing the same note in several different octaves – all the Cs, for instance. You’ll highlight any nuances in the way it sounds. The most common problem that impacts playability is temperature and humidity changes. If you hear a problem, it’s time for tuning. 

Should you try it yourself?

Do a search online, and you’ll find quick courses that teach you in a short video. But tuning isn’t something you can learn from a YouTube video. It’s something that takes years of practice with hands-on knowledge. 

Need more advice on tuning your piano? Give us a call today.

Why Your Piano Is Suddenly Out Of Tune

Why Your Piano Is Suddenly Out Of Tune

You sit down to play the piano. You run through a scale to warm up. 

Something doesn’t sound quite right. It makes a terrible noise. 

That’s one of the top reasons piano players stop playing. 

What fun is it playing the piano when the sound you’re creating is anything but pleasant?

Where is it coming from? Is there anything you can do? 

Most pianos built today have 88 keys and around 230 strings to produce sound. Each string has the potential to move slightly, causing it to fall out of tune. What causes it? 

Everyday use

Every time you play, the keys move, the strings vibrate, and they move ever so slightly. Over time, they move enough to be out of tune. But don’t think your piano won’t change if you don’t play. A piano needs care throughout its life, no matter if you play routinely or not. 

Climate change

On the coldest days of the year, your furnace runs nonstop. On the hottest days of the year, your air conditioner pumps out cold air. Sunlight streams through the windows. Cool breezes float in through the windows. And all of it impacts your piano in different ways. Pianos are built from natural materials that can change in different circumstances. That’s why tuning a piano after different seasons is recommended. 

Piano movement

When was the last time your piano moved? Did you move it to replace the carpets? Did you move it to a new home? All of that jiggling can cause strings to loosen and make your piano behave differently. Even when you apply the utmost care, any movement can impact the way your piano sounds. 

Of course, these may be the biggest reasons your piano may be out of tune. But they aren’t the only ones. Because a piano is an intricate series of parts that move and change all the time, your piano is always at risk of going out of tune. 

New pianos need tuning more frequently as they meld into their new positions. Older pianos may be flexible and run the risk of moving out of tune due to older parts. 

It’s hard to predict what will impact the way your piano plays. But if you want great sound throughout its lifetime, it’s important to schedule tuning sessions regularly. 

When was the last time you had your piano tuned? 

4 of the Worst Habits You Can Develop as a Piano Player

4 of the Worst Habits You Can Develop as a Piano Player

Some people naturally fall in love with playing the piano. From the moment they sit down at the keyboard, they know the piano will be in their lives for life. 

For some, that could be simply playing for pleasure at home, a simple way to relax after a hard day of work. 

For others, it might be to see how far you can take what you learn. Play professionally? Maybe. 

But before you start entertaining audiences, there are a few things you’ll have to overcome. Most pianists fall into one of these habits at some point in their piano playing career. Catch it quickly, and you can avoid the bad habits settling in and preventing you from perfecting your skill.

Wrong body posture

Humans are meant to be active. Yet in today’s society, we’re anything but. We hunch over computers hours each day. We sit on the couch, staring at the television, smart devices in our hands tapping away. 

Then you sit down at the piano, and all of those habits transfer over to your posture at the keyboard. 

To correct this, be conscious of how you sit. Choose the right chair or bench, and spend the first few seconds aware of how you sit. Pay attention to your body angle. Ensure your arms are relaxed, and the seat is the perfect distance to allow your hands to naturally hover over the keys. Too much tension can cause stress on your wrists. 

Using the wrong fingers

One of the problems with picking up piano playing yourself is you can fall into bad habits unknowingly. Can you imagine typing on a keyboard and not putting the right fingers on the correct keys? It’ll slow you down. 

The same applies to your fingers on the piano keys. Your fingers are a perfect stretch between the C-notes. If you’re singing the familiar song “Do Re Mi”, it would be Do to Do. This gives your fingers the proper spacing to play any song, and play it well. 

Having the wrong touch

This follows with not being positioned correctly at the keyboard. Without proper hand placement, your fingers won’t connect delicately with the keys. You’ll swipe at them, bang them, and create a sound that is anything but pleasing. It won’t feel natural. And more importantly, it’ll create stress on your hands and arms. 

It’s critical to have proper arm placement while you play. This puts your fingers in a natural position that gives them power to connect with the keys, yet a delicate touch that keeps them limber while they play. 

Practicing incorrectly

Oh, the struggle of daily practice. That’s what turns a lot of people off from playing the piano regularly. They schedule daily practice in thirty-minute increments, and sit down watching the minutes tick by. 3-2-1 – I’m free!

If you started out loving the piano, and want it to be a part of your life, it’s important to keep your practice fresh and new. Skip setting a time clock, and give yourself goals instead. Realize that some days you might only choose to play for a few minutes – that’s okay. By telling yourself you’ll play one song, learn one passage, or just sit down to have fun with it, you’ll give yourself room to play and explore. And ultimately, that’s a better approach than setting a time clock. 

Do you enjoy playing the piano? What habits have you had to overcome?

The Most Important Things To Learn as a Beginning Piano Player

The Most Important Things To Learn as a Beginning Piano Player

Whether you’re learning piano as an adult, or you’re helping your child become a better piano player, one of the first questions asked is: What are the most important things I can learn as a beginning to help me as I improve my talent?

Sitting down and touching the keys can produce sound. But to truly master the piano and be good at it, it takes practice and work. But even that should be a bit methodical. People have excelled before you; what are the best traits to have as you move forward? 

Many pianists agree, if you want to play the piano for a lifetime, there are a few things you should do from the beginning. 

Slow down

When you first start to play, it’s easy to rush through and have the desire to learn an entire song at the beginning. How else can you check off results if you don’t complete a task – and learning a song is certainly a good way to do just that. 

Yet speed can also be an enemy to learning more. If you pick up bad habits in the beginning, you’ll carry them through to all you do. Don’t expect to be “the best” right away. Slow down, take your time, and learn how to play. 

Count out loud

Rhythm is one of the most important things to learn as a beginner. Pay attention to the way music is written. Clap out the tempo. Count out the measures and use a metronome as necessary. This can allow you to really understand how a piece was written, and play it to hear more drama within the song. 

Hands separately

It takes a lot of coordination to get both hands working together, your eyes to read along and convert the notes into the way your fingers play. Don’t get frustrated if that doesn’t happen right away. 

Instead, learn both hands separately before you put them together. Practice to ensure you understand the rhythm and the way the composer puts the music together. Then slowly, build up to putting the two together. This will increase your ability to read music and understand the nuances of transferring that knowledge to your fingers. 

Find a teacher

The good news is there are many ways to learn the piano in today’s world. Try group classes online. Learn in person with a teacher in your local community. Use an app to find a teacher who meshes with your way of learning – they can be anywhere in the world. 

Don’t be afraid to use different teachers for different things. One teacher rarely will carry you through for years. Learn what you can, and take recommendations to move forward, gaining more talent from other teachers. 

What do you find to be the hardest thing about learning as a beginning piano player? 

You Don’t Have To Read Music To Play The Piano

You Don’t Have To Read Music To Play The Piano

I remember as a young child, watching my grandmother sit down at the piano and playing beautiful music. She carefully tapped out a few notes, found the right placement for her fingers, and played away. She never took lessons, never learned to read music, but she could play!

It wasn’t magic. It wasn’t a trick. She wasn’t a musical prodigy. In fact, most of us have the ability, it’s just left untapped. 

Why? 

Because we have an innate ability to understand music. It’s a part of us, and we don’t need to take years of lessons to play the piano for fun. 

Reading sheet music can help you become better at the craft of playing the piano. But to play your favorite songs? It requires listening and finding the right notes. 

It starts with paying attention to music. Make sure you use a high quality recording of whatever song you wish to play. Play it through a high quality system, great speakers, or headphones. Make sure you can hear all of the notes clearly, and can differentiate between the different tones. High quality recordings allow you to pick up on all the crucial notest that can make the difference in the way you play the song. 

The biggest part of being able to play by ear is not to rush the process. You can’t hum a new song and expect to play it perfectly the first time you sit down at the piano. 

Start by learning the music in small segments. Pick out five to ten seconds of a song, and convert that over to piano playing. Learn one part first, play it with one hand, and then try and pick up the other. You can do this over and over again as you make the sound more complex. 

If you master thirty seconds or so at a time, take a break. Come back another day and internalize what you’ve just learned. This helps you fully recognize the ability to play, and creates the pathways necessary to keep playing at this level. 

Then repeat. You can do this until you have your favorite song mastered, and can play it anytime you sit down at the piano. 

Of course, you can continue to do this with your favorite music. But if you prefer to take your piano playing to the next level, learning to read music will only improve what you know. 

But for now, it’s a great way to learn your favorite songs, and be able to play them whenever you desire. 

When Your Left Hand Doesn’t Keep Up With The Right While Playing the Piano

When Your Left Hand Doesn’t Keep Up With The Right While Playing the Piano

It’s been close to two centuries that scientists have studied “handedness.” Yet even with all of these studies, they still aren’t quite sure why people give preferential treatment to one hand over the other. Anywhere from 70 to 95 percent of humans are right hand dominant. That leaves the vast majority of left hand dominance or ambidextrous to live in a predominantly right handed world. 

When your right hand is the leader, you automatically do things by reaching out and taking action with your right hand. If you’ve sat down at a piano and put both hands on the keyboard, it can feel like a foreign act. How do you make both hands work together, yet separately? 

It’s not your fingers or hands you have to retrain. It starts in your brain. 

When composers write music, by default, they are right handed too. They realize people can get more detailed with their right hand, so they put more of the intricate details into the right handed positions. You’ll find the right hand may play elaborate passages, while the left hand is more responsible for the harmonic undertones. 

That’s also why you’ll find higher pitches a part of more melodies and songs. Because compositions can be created and reached easier with the right, you’ll have accompaniments being written and played in higher ranges. 

When you first pick up a piece of music, you might find it easier to play the parts separately. Practice the left hand first. Learn the chord progressions. Figure out the structure. Put the notes into play, letting your fingers find the way.

Then practice your right hand. Find the way the notes move together. Pick up the rhythm and find your natural progressions. Hear the melody in action. 

Only when you’re comfortable with both can you put the two together. 

Eventually, this will become easier. You’ll be able to put the two together from the beginning, and hear the way the two play together to create beautiful music together. 

What Not To Do When Practicing The Piano

What Not To Do When Practicing The Piano

Have you decided to give your child the gift of music? Are you looking for a piano to bring into your home for your child to learn on? 

Congratulations! Playing the piano is a rewarding hobby that can enrich your life from 1 to 101. 

Yet playing the piano isn’t something that happens overnight. It requires a lot of practice to develop the skills necessary to play the songs you love. Yet that’s the fun of it all. 

Practicing the piano can be a rewarding experience every time you sit down at the piano … if you plan correctly. 

Have the right tools for the job

You wouldn’t practice tennis with a fly swatter. You wouldn’t practice your soccer skills barefoot. Yet what a lot of parents don’t consider when selecting their child’s first piano is that a poor quality piano or keyboard has the same effect. 

To create a pleasing sound, you need a piano that is regularly maintained, has a rich, vibrant sound, and plays like a piano should play. Try your skills on a tinny toy piano, and your child will lose interest almost immediately. 

Sit correctly

When it comes to playing the piano, one seat can’t cover everything. You can’t pull up the dining room chair and expect it to provide a proper seat. 

It also depends on the age and height of your child. Someone who is four feet tall will sit differently at the table than one who is six feet tall. If you get a suitable piano bench, it can adjust to provide proper sitting no matter what size. 

Stop labeling the keys

If you look around online, you’ll find sites that allow you to print off labels for the keys. You can place it just above the keyboard, or attach the letters to the keys themselves. 

This may seem like a good idea at first, but it can actually weaken practice skills by looking at the letters rather than learning the actual placement of the notes. It’s common to get mixed up in the beginning. That’s what practice is all about. 

Reaching for music skills that are too hard

Maybe you have a dream song you’ve wanted to play. You have the music and look at it every day. 

But if you attempt to play it before your skills allow you to, you’ll be left with frustration. 

Practice improves your technical skills. You’ll get comfortable with playing the more that you play. 

If you genuinely have the desire to play a particular piece, let your music teacher know. They might be able to find sheet music to match your ability. At the very least, they can keep it in mind as a goal, and give it to you as a reward when they feel you’re ready. 

What tips help you when practicing the piano?

How Much Should You Practice The Piano Each Day?

How Much Should You Practice The Piano Each Day?

If you’ve never had experience playing the piano before, one of your first questions might revolve around practice. How much practice do you need to actually make music? Is it necessary to practice the piano each day to be good at what you do? How much time each day? What does daily practice really mean? 

The first step is to understand that your daily practice isn’t a chore. Instead, it’s a way to do what you love, and improve a little bit each day. You can do this over and over again, reaching new goals, and improving your ability. To enjoy what you do along the way. 

What’s your goal?

If we ask a hundred beginning piano players what their goals are, we’d likely hear a hundred different answers. Playing recreationally is different than wanting to make piano playing a career. And while you might see your desires change the more you play, knowing early on will help you establish a better practice routine. 

A recreational goal might mean you wish to play a specific song, or recreate music from your favorite band. You might use it as a stress reliever, playing in the evenings as a way to calm down after work. 

Higher achieving goals might include pursuing music when you go off to college. You have dreams of playing in a band someday. Or you might want to enter piano contests to continually test your skills. 

The more you play, the more you might find these goals change. But starting out understanding your wishes and desires can give you something to reach for. And that can keep you playing each day. 

What can you do with consistency?

Someone who’s recently retired can easily make more time for their big dreams than someone with a family and a full time job. Be realistic. Can you commit to practicing three nights a week for thirty minutes? 

The key to better playing is to create consistency. If you tell yourself you’ll do it when you have time, you’ll likely push off playing indefinitely. 

It’s also better to establish practice goals for each session rather than assigning time limits. Choose to play a song you love each night. Give yourself a goal of practicing new music a few times each week. You don’t have to learn the entire song in one sitting. Section it off, learn it piece by piece, and put it together when you feel confident about your ability. This can also drive you to reach for bigger goals, so it’s a win/win. 

Practicing the piano isn’t something you should ever dread. Instead, it’s something you should do for you. To make you happy. To relieve stress. To enjoy. 

Piano Playing Is Good For All Kinds of Ailments

Piano Playing Is Good For All Kinds of Ailments

Do you eat better to improve your health?

Do you exercise to stay fit? 

What if you could do something for your brain to make it stay healthy too?

You can. 

Piano playing has been around for hundreds of years. And while it’s easy to look at it as a wonderful hobby that adds music to your life, there’s more to it than that. Studies continually show that piano playing can help what ails you, and make you happy and healthy for life. 

Piano playing reduces stress

This past year has shown us stress can leap to entirely new levels. It also showed us we can stop and spend more time at home doing the things we love. Stress can release into the body in many different ways. For some, it shows up as mood changes, fatigue, and even digestive problems. For others, it can slowly impact health until you have chronic conditions. But taking up a hobby can give you a release for that energy. Piano playing requires concentration, and gives your brain a chance to relax from the constant barrage of content that comes at you all the time. Piano playing allows you to go into an almost meditative state, which can help lower blood pressure and allow the tension to release from your body. 

Piano playing improves cognitive function

People have long since documented that piano playing in young children can improve memory, help with language, and increase test taking skills. When you continue playing as you age, it can help improve memory, slow the process of dementia, and help increase brain function. If you push your skills, learn to read sheet music, and become better at piano playing through daily practice, it can continue to help you grow as an individual, and give you purpose and drive. 

Piano playing increases self esteem

As people age, they spend more time alone. For some, that can be a lonely experience, which can lead to adverse effects such as further withdrawal. Playing the piano increases your skills and allows you to concentrate on things outside of your norm. It gives you a chance to connect with people on a different level, especially if you start taking lessons. Share what you do – you’ll be amazed at how it can help connect you with others in the world. 

Music therapy is just beginning to break into helping people with all kinds of ailments. Whether it’s listening or playing, participating actively, or simply sitting and listening, music can have a long lasting impact on our health. 

Have you turned to piano playing over this past year?