There are many different reasons why you would want to learn the piano. Whatever reason you have for learning, you will want to find the best way to learn. Because 2020 and 2022 have been wrought with lockdowns, we’re going to look at the best ways to learn piano from your home.
After you’ve read our guide you’ll have a better perspective on all of the options for learning to play piano. You can choose the right method for you that matches your needs, budgets and availability.
The Learning Pathways
If you’re thinking about playing the piano chances are you’ve already sourced your instrument. So now you want to find the best method to learn how to play. Let’s take a look at the different choices available to you and the pros and cons for each. We’re looking at four methods in total so you can choose which one suits you best.
First, we’ll look at DIY methods where you don’t use online piano lessons or a piano teacher to learn.
Secondly, we’ll look at the Traditional ways of learning where you take piano lessons from an instructor with or without the use of technology.
Thirdly we’ll cover Technological where you use technology without an instructor to play the piano.
The final way we’ll look at is a Hybrid combining piano teachers and technology.
- Follow the piano teaching curriculum
- Study music theory and then apply it to what you are learning on the piano
- Learn to play by ear and practice sight-reading
- Take lessons with a piano teacher
- Take lessons in a music education center
- Enroll in an online course
- Follow tutorial and videos online
- Make use of different software and apps
- Take piano lessons online
If none of these methods are speaking to you yet then read on to take a closer look at each method.
The DIY method of learning to play the piano takes out the middle man and is ideal for anyone who is on a tighter budget. In order to learn to play on your own, you’ll have to have a lot of motivation and determination.
Following the Standard Curriculum
This is the way we would recommend learning piano if you are going to opt for the DIY method. The curriculum is what traditional piano teachers use and they have been specially developed to train students successful in piano playing.
Each curriculum does have slight differences from one another but most of them tend to follow the same pattern. There will be a series of books you can buy, one for each level of the curriculum. The books are split into three where you will need a technique book, a lesson book and a theory book for each level.
In the curriculum, there are also other resources you can buy to make your learning journey easier. The books can cost you anywhere from $7 to $30 each but there are savings to be had if you use sites like Amazon and eBay to buy second-hand copies. By going down the curriculum route of DIY learning you will get the best teaching possible without an expensive price tag.
The absence of a teacher can be a hard part of the DIY learning process. It’s not the greatest way to learn if you aren’t good at motivating yourself. They may also be places where you get stuck and you will have to do additional research to overcome obstacles.
Study Music Theory
If following a full curriculum isn’t really your style then you may just want to study music theory instead. This focuses on how music is written and structured and doesn’t teach you the style and rhythm of how to play. Music theory includes things like time signatures, notation, key signatures, symbols, chord structures and rhythmic patterns.
To be able to play piano and learn in this way you will have to have some sense of musicality already. You will also need to be able to apply the information you’ve learned without needing any assistance.
This method is incredibly challenging but there are some benefits to learning piano in this way. The first is that it’s super cheap to do. You only need the theory books from the curriculum without needing any of the technique and method books that go along with them.
Besides being very affordable the music theory approach means you will learn to play piano in a more intelligent way. It’s like playing by ear but heightened to a much more advanced level.
Learn By Ear
This method of learning is only for those who want to take a more experimental approach to the whole process. You won’t learn anything you haven’t discovered by yourself. It may be pretty obvious that this is the cheapest option out of them all because you don’t have to buy any books or pay a teacher.
While the advantage is clear, so is the disadvantage of it too. There’s no help from any outside sources and you will have to rely solely on yourself to learn. To learn by ear you have to listen to a song over and over again, then try and transpose it onto the keys. It’s very much a trial and error process. The reality is that unless you already know a lot about music, learning to play piano by ear won’t take you far on your journey.
DIY Method Pros and Cons
The traditional methods give you the benefit of learning how to play from a teacher. These sorts of techniques will cost you more money but you’ll get a lot more insight, feedback and accountability as you learn.
Taking Lessons with a Teacher
Piano learning requires money if you want the advantages of having a mentor who can give you feedback and hold you accountable for your progress. This approach is used by millions of piano players every day.
There are plenty of ways to get started with a teacher. You can use online resources to find one in your local area. Just remember to make sure your teacher is pre-screened and that they have the right qualifications for what you need.
Having a private piano teacher has a lot of advantages. While they will usually use the standard curriculum they can adapt your piano learning to suit your needs and the pace you want. They will also hold you accountable and monitor your weekly progress and practice.
Tutors can give you advice that is personalized to your playing. They will always be able to give you the answer to your questions and will also have more resources on hand to help with tricky parts of the curriculum.
The greatest disadvantage of hiring a teacher is that it will be costly. You will usually need to buy your own books as well as pay the fee for your lessons. The rates can start out at around $30 and go all the way up to $60 depending on how long the lessons are and how experienced the teacher is.
Taking Lessons Through a Music Center
In some states, there are musical education centers that offer lessons on all sorts of instruments including the piano. These centers have a lot more access to resources than a private tutor would and may even include masterclass opportunities and musical performances too.
If you want to learn in more of a group setting but still want one-on-one instruction then a music center may be the best route for you to go. The only thing you want to watch out for is the screening process of the teachers. Some centers will hire students right out of college who have no musicality and aren’t qualified to teach you the piano or keyboard.
Musical education centers can sometimes be pricier than hiring a teacher as well. This is because as well as paying the tutor they have to cover additional costs such as administration and facility fees.
Traditional Methods Pros and Cons
Technological methods will also cut out the middle man but they will use technological tools instead and utilize things like software and the internet for learning the piano. These techniques are usually a lot more engaging than the DIY methods but you will have to be technologically savvy in order to do them.
Enroll on an Online Course
Online education has become a huge thing over the past year, thanks in part to the pandemic and lockdown. Something we’ve all learned is that you no longer need a classroom to learn. Simply log onto your computer and receive your piano lessons that way instead.
There are plenty of platforms out there that are designed for pianists at any level. Many of these courses will include video lessons, e-books, audio files and email support. It’s a much more improvisational way of tackling the piano. However, you won’t learn much of the theory part like sight-reading.
Learning piano with an online piano course does take some determination because you have to be accountable for the time and effort you are putting in. Much like the DIY methods, this approach doesn’t avail you the input that a piano instructor would.
On the plus side, online courses are a lot more flexible, allowing you to learn as and when you want. There are some great tools like video tutorials that following the standard curriculum can’t give you.
Follow Online Videos
Online piano can also be learned by following online videos. This is very much the bare-bones way of enrolling in an online course. The approach focuses solely on watching video tutorials and won’t give you any of the supplementary extras which could advance your learning.
There are plenty of free learning pianos on sites like YouTube but the teaching quality may not be brilliant. If you are looking at an online video course you will need to preview what they’re offering first as not all courses are made to suit your style and goals.
Every resource video you go to will be targeted a specific part of piano learning. Some may focus on the keyboard basics while others will go through reading sheet music and theory. Look for reviews online and make sure you’re selecting a resource where you will have the most positive experience.
Use Teaching Software and Apps
Learning how to play the piano through software or an app will incorporate tutorial videos and other resources that you can download and use. While they won’t teach you the comprehensive musical theory of piano playing like sight-reading, they do stand out for reasons of their own.
These resources are all available on your phone, tablet or computer. They have a dedicated platform on systems like Mac, Windows and Android. Some of the programs also have plug-in connectivity which means you can sync your digital piano to the software. Your device will be able to see what you’re playing and then provide feedback as you play.
Many traditional piano players are put off by the use of technology and software in their learning. They feel that learning piano digitally takes away the full experience and even diminishes the value of musicality.
Pros and Cons of Technological Methods
The hybrid method is something that is gaining a lot of popularity because of the pandemic. It combines the advantage of using a personal instructor while being able to learn at home with technology. It’s a great experience that gives you the best of both worlds and keeps you safe too.
Take Online Piano Lessons
Online web chats and video conferencing tools have opened up a whole new world of piano teaching. There are platforms such as Skype and Zoom where you can enjoy a responsive lesson in real-time, one-on-one with your tutor. It has all the benefits of a studio teacher without having to learn your home.
To do this you will need a webcam and a microphone as well as an internet connection. Both people will also need a piano or keyboard. You can find plenty more instructors online because you will no longer be limited by your geographical location. This freedom means you can find the perfect teacher for you, even if they’re on the opposite side of the world.
If you are interested in this approach then you will need to be prepared to pay more than other options. This is because you are getting a personalized service, much like if you were to visit a piano tutor.
The hybrid option works very well during the current climate where we have limited travel available. You can also fit the lessons in around your schedule without having to factor in travel times.
Pros and Cons of Hybrid Methods
Isn’t it great that there are so many options out there to learn the piano? Now you will want to assess which one is the right choice for you based on your goals and budget. Find the right combination of methods that will meet your personal needs and suit your style of playing the most.