There are many adults that say it is too late to master the piano.  If they haven’t begun the process of learning from a young age, then it may seem like it takes too much time or seems like wishful thinking.  If you are a late bloomer and want to start performing the greatest hits, then it is never too late to begin playing. 

Learning to play the piano can begin at any age and you can easily enjoy your new musical skills.  With these 5 tips, you will begin your journey to understanding, embracing and playing the piano. 

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Tip #1: Play What You Love

A mistake that many adult piano students make is they try to learn from a traditional methodology book.  You will find that your interest is lost and you are unable to develop at a fast pace.  Play what you love so you can learn quickly.  There are unconventional ways to progress with the music you are intrigued by, resulting in a better outcome. 

Remember that there is not a wrong or right way to learn music.  You can apply learning by ear, theories, or traditional reading methodologies.  The key ingredient with each format of learning is to use the approach most agreeable with you.  Find the songs you want to learn and focus on the applications that allow you to make the most of each piece of music. As you learn what you love, other theories and approaches to learning the piano will naturally fall into place.

When the learning approach you choose focuses on enjoyment, playing piano becomes fast and easy.  You will be able to keep peak interest, which will lead to focused practice.  More important, as you learn the music because you enjoy playing, you will experience a positive outcome while understanding more depth to the music.  This will help you to continue to progress and understand more about learning the piano. 

Tip #2:  How To Work Past the Blocks. 

Each student has sections within music songs or theories that are easier to learn and other sections that seem more difficult.  Many students will simply skip over the parts that are a musical block, focusing instead on the easier or more enjoyable parts.  You will want to focus on overcoming these difficult sections.  This will be more rewarding in the end while assisting you with future progressions of learning music. 

To work past your blocks, try these simple methods:

  • Slow down the speed of the area that is difficult
  • Play the same chords or melody at least 10 times
  • Play the one area with different rhythms
  • Re-think how you are playing.  Do you need to change your fingering?  How is your rhythm?
  • Focus on the difficult part for 5 minutes, then rest to process what you have learned

Working with the difficult parts of a piece of music is important.  It will help you to play more riffs, chords and harder music in the future.  It also allows you to develop a deeper understanding of musical theories and approaches that are used within each song you are learning. 

Tip #3: Learning Around a Song. 

Often, musicians that are learning at beginning or intermediate levels will focus on their favorite songs.  If you want to progress rapidly, then you will want to advance beyond this with the music you are interested in.  You will want to add other elements into your practice, such as chords, scales and exercises that support learning piano and progressing to the next level.

Many will look at exercises as an ineffective approach.  However, you will find that jazz, pop and other forms of music often use exercises as riffs.  You can find the greatest riffs, introductions and improvisation in music as exercises that are used with songs.  Adding these into your musical studies will help you to learn more about the theories and the applications with music. 

To keep your interest, find a riff or section of a jazz or pop song that you enjoy.  Learn only this particular part of the song.  This may be a part of a melody, chord progression or a part of an improv solo.  Take the same pattern and apply it to another piece of music.  This works most effectively in jazz.  You will find that the pattern you have learned can be used in any piece of music.  If you are interested in improvisation or speeding up your learning, then focusing on your favorite parts of a melody, improv section or chord structure will assist with further applications to other musical pieces.

Tip #4: Applying Theories. 

A fast and effective method to learning music quickly is to apply theories to each song you are learning.  You will want to look at a variety of theories that help you to learn faster.  When you analyze the music you are learning, it increases your rate of processing and applying the information.  You will find that your speed of learning a new song at least doubles when looking at the music theoretically. 

You can begin to apply theories by looking at the first part of the sheet music.  You will notice a time signature, such as 4 / 4 or 3 / 4.  This lets you know how many beats are in each measure.  The second part to this is the key signature, which will have “b”s or flats and may have “#”s or sharps.  This lets you know what scale you are playing and how this relates to the melody and chords. 

The next step of applying theories is to look at chord structures.  Usually, the left hand will play a bass note, seen as the lowest note in the chord.  This is the root of the chord and forms the structure.  You can then determine what type of chord is played in the sheet music, such as minor, major, diminished or augmented.  This is important because it lets you know the sound of the chord as well as where the composer will go next with the chords to formulate the musical piece. 

An important part to learning any piece of music is to know how the chord structure moves.  You will want to look at the root of each chord.  You can then determine what chord this is in the scale.  For instance, if you are in the key of D and see a root note of D, A and G, then the chord movement is I – V – IV.  You will often find that the chord progression is repeated, especially in jazz or pop.  This speeds up your learning by understanding the patterns of the songs as well as how it formulates the musical piece.  More important, if there is a chord or part of the melody that moves out of the chord patterns, then you can determine why this is important in relation to the song while remembering the changes when learning the song. 

Another simple method to learn quickly is to look at the structure of the song.  For instance, take a simple rock song, such as from the Beatles.  If you break the song into sections, you will see a verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus.  You will find that the chorus is always a repeat of the melody and chord structure.  Often, the verse also keeps the same structure.  By dividing the structure of the piece, you will find a simple way to learn and remember each piece of music faster while simplifying what you are learning.  This will lead to a faster learning curve with the music you are playing on the piano.

Tip #5: Kinesthetics

Nothing helps more with learning music quickly than focusing on muscle memory.  Getting your fingers to respond to the sheet music or chord structures will speed up your learning process.  You will want to focus on how the melody and chords feel when you are playing and moving your hands.  The shape of your hands, movement between notes and the placement on the keyboard is observed and practiced for faster learning. 

The kinesthetics apply to the basic touch and feel with the piano.  A fast way to learn is to practice the chords and melody continuously.  By repeating different sections of a song, you will easily be able to remember the feel and movement of the melody and chords.  Try focusing on four measures at a time or a series of chords that you know will repeat.  By playing these a few times every day, you will automatically begin to respond to the songs you are learning. 

The concept with kinesthetics is to create muscle memory in your fingers and in the music.  Many professionals will not focus on the song, but instead will memorize riffs, or segments of a song.  Improvisation as well as different jazz melodies are often from the riffs that are memorized by musicians.  You can take certain scales, broken chords, introductions and endings and play them in different ways.  Practice them slowly, quickly, in different rhythmic structures or with slight alterations in notes.  You will find that it will be easier to learn other songs that often use the same progressions in melodies and chords. 

Piano Courses for Faster Learning

You will want to look at specifics for adult courses that provide faster learning.  There are special adult piano lessons that are designed to learn the songs that you are interested in while providing you with different applications to polish your piano learning skills. 

Song Books: This is a common approach to learning and with some basic theories, you can easily learn your favorites.  If you don’t know how to read, find song books that have accompanying chord charts.  You will want to look at song books divided by jazz, pop, contemporary or classical to keep your interest.  You can also consider song books that include beginner to advanced levels.  Accompanying CDs or lessons with each song may also support your ability to play the piano.

Adult Method Books: If you want a traditional approach to learning, then you can look at the adult versions of methodology books.  Alfred’s, Hal Leonard and Valor are some of the popular names for adult methodologies.  These approaches focus on theories and exercises first, followed by the known classics.  If you are interested in a traditional method, these names can assist you with progressive learning.

Alternative Styles: An approach that supports adult learning is with alternative methodology books.  Online courses, learning chords and focusing on practical applications are available through different method books.  You can find books such as “Learn Your Chords” that will assist with the type of methodology you are interested in.  These are often accompanied by popular jazz or contemporary favorites for entertainment while you are learning. 

It is never too late to begin enjoying piano playing and music.  If you are starting with the basics, then consider different methods and approaches for simple learning.  With different theories and applications, you will easily learn the piano.  Within a few weeks, you will find yourself playing your favorites, joining in jam groups and making the most of enjoying music.

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