I can’t deny it, the prospect of learning to play the piano from scratch is a daunting one! The amount of practice required to get good at playing the instrument is overwhelming! When you are starting off, you should keep in mind the importance of “small wins”. It is much the same as running a marathon. When trying to run a marathon for the first time, one does not just turn up on the day and do it right? To make it to an end of a marathon race, one must achieve a level of physical fitness that permits them to make it through the race. It takes months of regular extended running to achieve this. One does not simply “have it” to start with!
A similar thing applies to learning the piano. It’s important to slowly gain confidence as you build up your skill set. While the common suggestion is to find easy songs to learn on piano and practice a few of them, you may find you even struggle with simple songs when you first attempt them. This does not matter at all, what matters is your commitment to learning them and playing them competently. This is what a “small win” is about.
Even if the song is “Twinkle twinkly little star”, an easy song by the way, having the skill to play it competently when a few weeks ago you could not even play chopsticks on the piano is a “small win” that you should be immensely proud of! Whether it took you 5 minutes or 5 weeks to get there doesn’t matter when you’re just starting, achieving the goal is where the “win” is at!
You should always be looking for the next big win. When you have learned to play “Chop sticks” you should try and learn another beginner song. If you have just learned how to play “When The Saints Go Marching In” with your right hand, you should aim to go one better and add in the left hand piece of the music, but don’t forget to congratulate yourself on your “small win” in the first place.
Some good goals to set yourself as you get better at the piano are:
- Expanding your repertoire of songs – as well as learning new songs you should also be learning songs that are harder than what you already know.
- Learn a new music genre – If you can already play a lot of pop songs, challenge yourself by learning Jazz, or Blues
- Learn new chords and scales – To get good at playing piano, you should immediately strive to learn the basic chords. Once you know them, you should aim to learn more.
- Learn a classical music track or two – classical music is generally more complicated than popular music, so it’s a great challenge to learn and will be a boost to your playing ability.
- Learn how to sigh read – when you get really good, an excellent skill to learn is how to play a music track for the first time from sheet music. Once you’ve got this down, the world’s your oyster!
Learning how to play the piano is a never ending process and this can be daunting if you’re new. If you are always setting small goals and striving for “small wins”, then you’ll always be improving, which will put you well ahead of those who stay in their comfort zone. Like Robin Hall, author of the Pianoforall course once said: practice what you DON’T know, not what you DO know and you’ll be a much better piano player!