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? 

Piano Playing, Mental Health, and Self Care

Piano Playing, Mental Health, and Self Care

This past year, self care has taken on an entirely new life. Stress is a part of our everyday lives. It’s here in ways we never thought possible, and it’s impacting all of us in new ways. 

While staying in place had an impact on all of us, it did make us look at ourselves and try and find ways of bringing peace and calm to each new day. People picked up new hobbies at record-breaking speed. Making bread became a new norm. 

But once we settled into our homes, and realized we’re home to stay, we started finding new opportunities that passed us by before. 

Is piano playing a new hobby for you? Congratulations. Studies show it’s one of the best activities you can take on for your mental health. It’s not just good for living through a pandemic; it can help you with stress relief for life. 

Piano playing relieves stress – when you sit down to play the piano, you can’t bring your problems to the keyboard. It requires full concentration, which makes you leave your cares behind. It gives you something else to focus on while you’re creating music. It’s also a booster to your self-esteem, as well as gives you a more positive outlook on life. 

Piano improves concentration – had brain fog this past year? A lot of people have. It’s difficult to concentrate when the world is changing at break-neck speed, and you’re doing everything you can to keep up. When you sit down to play the piano, it regulates you to split your concentration to read the music, interpret the notes, and move that down into your hands to take action on the keys. Don’t forget about your foot to tap the sustain pedal as needed. You can’t have other things on your mind and play well. Playing allows you to push “stuff” away for a while, and focus only on what’s important now. 

Piano improves language – when you’re playing the piano, your listening skills automatically gain a boost. You listen for intervals and chords while playing, and develop voice and a sense of pitch. This transfers into your language skills as well as your memory. It helps you pick up the fine tonal qualities that make you better at listening, as well as hear sounds and differences in a new way. This helps kids become better at school, learn foreign languages faster, and do better on tests. It continues throughout life, assisting seniors to remember better and be more concise with their language skills. Hand-eye coordination also improves as you connect with the keyboard with all of your senses intact. 

Sometimes taking control over your mental health starts with stress relief. Whether you’re just starting to play the piano as a new hobby, or have played for years, it’s the one activity that you can carry with you through life, and have it inspire you every time you sit down. 

Back Ache? You May Be Sitting at the Piano Wrong

Back Ache? You May Be Sitting at the Piano Wrong

Why do you have a back ache when sitting at the piano?

You may be sitting at the piano wrong. 

You may have also experienced it when sitting at a computer. Your shoulders tense up. Your arms tighten. Your hands feel sore. It may even hurt to breathe. 

What’s wrong? 

Part of playing the piano correctly comes from your posture. If your hands can’t move freely across the keys, it impacts the way your body moves. You’ll feel it long after you step away from practice. 

If you’re feeling any back pain after practicing, it’s time to ensure you’re sitting correctly at the piano. 

Start by straightening up. Your parents may have told you as a child to sit up straight, shoulders back, feet on the floor. The same applies to sitting at the piano. This makes you stronger at your core, and instantly gives you more confidence in the way you play. 

Evaluate your bench. Not any old chair will do. If you’re sitting improperly in front of the keyboard, it can lead to aches and pains throughout your body. Your feet should never be dangling. In fact, you should have weight on your feet, with them both solidly on the ground. This allows you to lean in and use your core power as you maneuver through octaves on the keyboard. 

Relax the wrists. But not too much. Think of an invisible bubble underneath, as you move it while you play. If your hands “hang”, you can injure your wrists. They need to stay flexible yet firm, giving you full control over every note you play. 

Pedals. Think of your body creating a base while you play. It moves from solid feet on the floor, up through your legs into your core. It centers on your buttocks on the bench, and back down again. When you move your right foot onto a pedal, it should never take away from the core structure you create to hold you in place. The left foot is on the floor, helping control the weight while you move and play. 

Stretch. Let the music move you while you play. And in between, take a breather and move your arms overhead. Wiggle your fingers. Rotate at the waist. Give yourself permission to relax, from your head to your toes. This makes you aware of where your tension is, and helps you focus on being in a better position when you return to the keyboard. 

Whether you need a new piano bench to ensure better placement, or want a new piano for better playability, we’re here to help you with all of your piano needs. 

Stopped Playing The Piano? Take It Up Again!

Stopped Playing The Piano? Take It Up Again!

For our kids, we tend to keep their days a little more rigid. School. Afterschool activities. Homework time. Practice time. Family time. Their days are carefully chunked into a variety of things to keep them moving throughout the day. 

But for adults, it can be a bit more challenging. We have to get the kids to school and their activities. We have to get to work. But the days can quickly spiral out of control with a phone call or a sudden emergency. 

Your mom calls and needs a little help. 

Your furnace stops working – it’s cold in the house!

And suddenly, all your plans for extra activities go by the wayside. 

That’s how many adults stop playing the piano, even though they have the best intentions. They skip a day of practice, planning to catch up tomorrow. One day goes by, then two. And before you know it, you haven’t played in weeks. 

That’s normal!

Every piano player has experienced that from time to time. 

The key is in recognizing it and doing something about it. 

Start with your why – why did you take up the piano in the first place? Did you want to play a favorite song? Did you use it for relaxing at the end of a hectic day? Use that to recharge yourself and get started again. 

Create a new plan – why did you stop? Was something not working with your playing schedule? Too often, we try and place activities at a time that doesn’t make sense. Maybe we’re tired at the end of the day. Maybe that’s the timeframe when friends and family call with questions and problems. Re-evaluate your piano practicing schedule and see if there is a better time you can play. 

Calendar it – whether you take lessons from a teacher is up to you. Whether you work with someone, or choose to do it on your own, if it’s on your calendar, you’re more likely to do it. You block out the time, and you have it facing you each day. Keep things simple. This gives you a visual cue to stay on track. 

Motivate – give yourself a reason to start up again. What song have you really wanted to play? Find music that challenges you to play it, yet isn’t so difficult it’ll take you months to get there. 

You can also find a community that helps you stay on target. The great thing about the online world is you can find all kinds of resources to help you stay on track. Whether you’re playing with a local group, or simply have a forum to stay in touch with other pianists, it’s a great way for you to stay on track playing the piano throughout the year.