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Learning to play the piano for beginners, here’s what you need to know!

Updated: May 19, 2022

Have you ever considered learning to playing the piano? You are not sure what it takes or where to start? Are you uncertain about buying or renting your piano and if it is worth it to hire a piano teacher? Well, then read this short interview with our professional piano teacher Alexandre and get inspired!

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The piano - one of many versions

What variations of pianos do exist?

Since its invention 300 years ago, the piano has evolved into many different forms, adapting itself to modern music genres. The two main acoustic piano categories are the grand piano (the king of pianos, used mainly in concert halls) and the upright piano (smaller, what we usually find in people's living rooms). Many different variations of electronic pianos exist, from stage e-piano to midi keyboards. Keyboards can come in full-size (88 keys) but also in smaller versions (73, 49, 25 keys). Along with the size, the main differences between e-pianos are the touch (heavy or light) and the sound collection that they offer.

Should I learn to play with an e-piano or a real one?

It is possible to learn the instrument on an e-piano. The keyboard is the same and the techniques can be learned on both. But when choosing a piano, it is important to think about the music you would like to play with it. To learn classical music or jazz, an acoustic piano might be more appropriate than an e-piano. On the other hand, if you would like to learn pop music or experiment with electronic music, an e-piano or midi keyboard could be better. It's all about the sound you want to get out of it!

How hard is it to learn to play the piano?

One might think that it is very difficult to play piano, that you need a special talent or gift. And it is true that some things are extremely difficult to play on the piano. However, what really matters is that everyone can learn how to play. I like to think that learning an instrument is like learning a language. It is important to be in contact with the instrument regularly. By playing the piano 5 - 15 minutes a day, it is possible to make a lot of progress within a few weeks.

Das Keybord

How long does it take to master the piano?

It is a long process that never really ends and it is one of the beauties of learning an instrument. It’s been 10 years that I play piano and I still learn new things every day! But it doesn’t mean that it takes 10 years to enjoy playing the piano. From the very beginning of the learning process, it is possible to play music (not just exercises), simple songs, learn how to improvise.

Can adults still learn to play?

Of course! I’ve taught piano to students from 6 to 70 years old and the process was the same no matter the age! Adults don’t learn the same repertoire, the practical exercises might be different but the goal remains the same: improving technical control over the instrument by playing the music adapted to each individual student. 

What’s the best genre to be played on the piano?

The piano is present in almost every music style: in classical music and jazz but also in pop music, rock, film music etc. The piano is a versatile instrument, like an orchestra in itself, and is ready to play any style of music, you just have to pick one!

Where do I get a piano?

You can get a piano at your local music store or online. A good e-piano should cost you from CHF 400 to 600. Don’t forget to get a sustain pedal (if it isn’t included). Acoustic pianos can be expensive when bought new but it is possible to find very affordable second-hand upright pianos online. The ideal is to be able to try the piano’s touch and sound before buying it. Ask your music teacher before you take a decision. Don’t forget that acoustic pianos need to be tuned by a professional from time to time.

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Is renting a piano a good idea?

It can be. But don’t forget, an acoustic piano is heavy, needs to be delivered and tuned from time to time. It might be best to start off with renting a good e-piano and decide after a few months what your next instrument is going to be.

Any reason why I should not learn with an app or YouTube?

Apps and YouTube tutorials can be helpful and I encourage my students to use them for practicing specific technics or rhythms. But they can’t replace a piano teacher. Students usually have specific needs. Some play fast but don’t have a good rhythm. Others might improvise well but have a hard time reading music or understanding the theory. A piano teacher can identify what is needed before bad habits get developed. And, you can play together which is magic, promised!

Das Piano

What about online lessons?

Since the corona crisis started, teaching methods have evolved and I started online lessons with some of my students. Even if I personally prefer teaching in person, it is absolutely possible to work online and learn music that way. For my online students, if possible, I try to organize in person lessons once every now and then. 

What do I learn in the first trial lesson with you?

I would start by assessing your level in music in general: how confident are you rhythmically, do you know music theory. It is also important for me to know what kind of music are you interested in. I would teach you 5 notes and 2 chords that you can play on your keyboard. With this you will immediately be able to play something that sounds good! A little bit of rhythmic, a bit of music theory paired with real exercises to keep it fun. Most important, bring the songs you like to play.


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