So you’ve taken the first steps to learn to play the piano. Whether you are seeing a piano teacher every week, or have purchased one of the better online piano courses like Pianoforall and are following the lesson plan, the main thing is you are putting in some effort to improve your piano playing.
A challenge you’d probably like to take sooner or later is playing one of your favorite songs, but chances are, the songs you wish to play are a bit tougher than “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “When the Saints Go Marching In”. While there are easy songs to learn on piano that are also popular, many popular music songs are hard for a beginner to play right off the bat. Nevertheless, you would like to play the songs you would like to play! And if they are a bit more challenging than the piano songs you’ve played up until now, you’ve got a tough job ahead of you! With that in mind, here are a couple of tips to make it a bit easier.
Break It Down Into Chunks
Later when you become a skilled piano player, you should ultimately be trying to sight-read all, but the most complicated music scores without stopping, but for beginners getting started, breaking a song down is perfectly acceptable.
Even songs that are only slightly tricky in complexity can be broken down into sections. You could do this by breaking a song into the usual verse, chorus, bridge, etc, but the natural way to break down a song will vary quite a lot from song to song. As a rule of thumb, try and break it down into 8-16 bars at a time (you may even wish to go as low as 4 bars). When you can play a section comfortably, move onto the next section. Once you are comfortable playing the next section move on to the next and so on until you can play the entire song.
Play at a Slower Tempo
Lowering the tempo at which you practice a piece of music is more important than you might realize.
It’s all about muscular memory. Playing slower is easier and you are more likely to get it right by keeping things simple at a slower pace. Once the body “gets used” to the mechanical action of the song, playing the notes will have been committed to memory and will become as natural as say riding a bicycle, typing or walking. This is the goal anyway and this is what repetitive practice will help you to achieve.
The mind will gain more control of the muscle movements that are required to play the song and you will have more control over your ability to play the song in question. The basic premise is that the better controlled and more precise the muscle movements (which is what happens when you play slow), the quicker your body will commit this action to muscle memory.
Learning to play the piano is not something you will learn in a day. Learning to play your favorite songs will certainly improve your playing ability, but it should be done in combination with other exercises and a structured lesson plan that includes scales, chords and other important exercises.