21/04/2024

Best Beat

Setting the Rhythm for Your Music

Learning to Play Piano With a Purpose – There is More Than Just the Notes

Learning to Play Piano With a Purpose – There is More Than Just the Notes

This article is part of a group of articles on effective piano and keyboard practice tips to help you get the maximum benefit of your practice time and effort. Learning to play piano with a purpose is more than just learning the notes.

Piano playing (actually any keyboard instrument like digital pianos, organs, etc.) is multi-tasking big time. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Having lots of small goals helps focus your practice efforts. All your efforts in learning to play the piano should have a purpose, a goal, a certain proficiency level – something to be achieved in each and every practice session. Practice is defined as repeating something until it is mastered. The point, sometimes not so obvious, is when practicing, you are training your brain and your body to do new things. So here are some suggestions to improve your efforts.

1. With a new piece of music, before touching any keys, spend some time analyzing the entire piece. Look at the key signature, and figure out the key (which is different from the key signature.)

2. Notice all the dynamic markings, the repeats and ending, rhythm and tempo and any changes which are bound to occur during the piece. If you haven’t learned about these things – not to worry – you will be learning them as your musical education continues.

3. This is the time to figure out any unknown markings, and make some notes if needed. Get definitions from the Internet by doing a search – for example – define “tempo di marcia.” Be sure to use the word define in the search.

4. Make notes – writing on your own music is perfectly normal. Just remember to use pencil – you may change your mind. Always use pencil – always.

All that information about the details is important because it’s actually much easier to learn to play musically (meaning the way the composer wrote it with all the dynamics, etc.) right from the beginning. It is tempting, but try not to only learn the fingering first, and then add all the other components one at a time. Yes, you can learn one component at a time, but it takes longer overall.

Remember that performing music is part technical skill and part artistic skill. The artistic elements are what makes the music come alive and be special for you and your listeners. And, it’s fun, too. Even if you have no intention of performing for others, you will be missing a major part of the pleasure of creating / playing music if you only do the technical thing.

So, always playing musically right from the beginning is strongly recommended. Consider figure skating – part technical – part artistic. One part without the other is not so special (and gets real boring quickly.) The same is true with Piano and all Keyboard instrument playing.