Congratulations! You’ve finally done it. You’ve committed yourself to learning to play the piano. You plan to practice hard and are ready to learn some of your favorite songs. You’ve bragged about this moment to your co-workers, your significant other, plastered it all over social media, and you even called your mom.
Ok, you texted her. But still, this has been your dream for several years and now you are going to do it. Today. Because this the day that will change your life.
But let’s face it—getting started is overwhelming. The amount of material and resources is vast and confusing. Where do you go? YouTube? Online lessons? Do I pay for lessons or go for free? Should you focus on chords, songs, or all of the above?
Never fear, we are here to help you sort it all out and get started on a successful journey to help teach yourself piano online.
These are the 5 things you need to do to get started:
- Decide on your method of instruction
- Purchase your piano or keyboard
- Set a schedule for practice
- Set short term goals
- Set long term goals
If you’re interested in learning how to play piano or keyboard in a fun and interactive fashion, then look no further then Piano for All. This course features 10 in-depth eBooks that contain 200 video lessons and 500 audio lessons. And best of all, the course works on PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, or any Android phone or tablet. Get your copy of Piano for All today while supplies last!
And if you’re in the market for a brand new digital piano, then check out the table below, where you can compare some of the best digital pianos on the market against one another:
Photo Model Keys Weight Price
Yamaha YDP-184 88 $$$ Graded Hammer 3 Action (GH3)
Yamaha DGX-660 88 $$ Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) Keyboard
Casio PX-770 88 $$$ 128 Note Polyphony
Roland FP-30 88 $$ Built-in Bluetooth Wireless Connectivity
Casio PX-S3000 88 $$$ 700 Sounds, 200 Rhythms
Methods of Instruction
Deciding on a method of instruction might not be the easiest thing to do so we’ve broken it down into two main categories: online video instruction (non-interactive) and interactive music services. By far, YouTube is the best resource for those that are interested in free online video instruction.
Again, there are a vast array of lessons available and picking the right YouTuber is not always easy. Most of the really good YouTube videos are linked to other sites that include some sort of interactive music service.
The Piano Pig is one channel that is not linked to an online site and is completely free. He has a modest following of 20,000 subscribers and posts a new video each week. The Pig’s videos cover everything from tips and tricks, to basic piano chords, scales, and improvisation.
One great example of the Pig’s tutorials is Common Chord Progressions that Every Beginner Should Know. He details fingerings and songs that use these common chord progressions. The Pig also shows an overhead view of what he is playing along with a split screen with another keyboard on top that highlights notes and letter names in blue as he plays. With over 64 videos, the Piano Pig has lessons for pianists at every level. He is definitely worth checking out.
Bill Hilton is another noteworthy piano YouTuber. Bill has over 200 videos and 120,000 subscribers. Bill covers everything from jazz to pop to ballads. He also has a large collection of videos that are specifically geared towards beginners.
Bill uses pdf versions of sheet music to enhance his lessons and has a lot resources available as free downloads. Bill also uses an overhead view to demonstrate his technique, although note names and keys are not highlighted. Bill also does a lot of talking with hands, which can be distracting at times. If you can get past that, he has a wealth of resources.
The last piano YouTuber we reviewed is PGN. PGN offers tutorials on chords, scales, and songs. PGN shows overhead views of the keyboard, along with a split screen that highlights fingering and note names in red. PGN also has a “Guitar Hero” video game like screen that shows rhythms as short or long bars that come down the screen in rhythm to the song.
This gives subscribers a visual representation of rhythm that is akin to something more interactive. Although PGN offers free YouTube videos, the bulk of their lessons are subscription based. PGN lessons combine the ease of YouTube and the detail of interactive music services.
Interactive Music Services are the next big thing in the music education industry. Students must have a PC, tablet, or iPad; a midi keyboard; and Internet access to use an interactive music service.
Acoustic pianos are discouraged because students won’t get the full scope of the lesson. Many services target learners who want to learn a variety of instruments. Some of these music services include: Yousician, Hoffman Academy, and Playground Sessions. Again, this can be overwhelming when choosing an interactive music service that is right for you.
Yousician offers music services for many instruments and has an appeal to younger players because of its video game like app. The app is designed to give the player a chance to improve through practice and competition.
Students are ranked on their progress and can unlock the next level of their playing by accomplishing goals in a given category. Yousician is also appealing because it uses a color coded system for fingers and letter names. Students do not need to know how to read music until they are ready.
Hoffman Academy is strictly piano or keyboard based. The program is web based and there are pricing plans designed meet the needs of each student. The curriculum is family friendly and Hoffman prides himself on being the “Mr. Rogers of piano”. Students study units based on music theory and receive access to videos, printables, audio, and games.
Mr. Hoffman has a good online presence and tries to answer questions and comments that students have. Although Hoffman’s program is geared toward learner of all ages, some of the songs seem childlike and may turn off serious adult learners. Unlike Yousician, which is highly interactive, Hoffman Academy is video based and acts much like an extension of YouTube.
Playground Sessions was ranked number one by Top Ten Reviews of online piano lessons. Co-created by music mogul, Quincy Jones, Playground Sessions encompasses all that online piano courses have to offer in one place. Students of all levels can follow a specific curriculum path.
Popular songs and classic hits are used to teach music notation and music theory. There are literally hundreds of hours of online lessons. The software can be download for mac or pc or through the app store. Along with video lessons, students receive feedback from their performance on the music notation software. Students can choose their own songs to learn. Songs are enhanced with notation, video lessons, and backing tracks. Playground Sessions has covered all the bases. They even offer keyboard bundles that students can purchase (along with their subscription) based on their price and student needs.
Purchasing a Keyboard
One of the main reasons that we recommend choosing your method of instruction before purchasing your keyboard is based on the needs of each method. Students who have an acoustic piano could clearly study on YouTube and become quite successful.
Students who opt for purchasing a keyboard must know that they need internet access and a device when using an interactive music service. Playground sessions has keyboard bundles available and Hoffman Academy has a section on choosing the correct piano or keyboard. And if you already have a keyboard, you’ve made it that much easier on yourself!
Set a Schedule for Yourself
This one seems like a no brainer. However, adults lead very busy lives. Many of us have children or grandchildren; couple that with the stress of work and finding time to eat dinner, we can say we just don’t have the time. You know your schedule best. Whether it’s 10 minutes a day or 30 minutes every other day; find the time that fits you best.
Also, remember that all of us learn better in smaller increments of time. It’s hard to cram three hours of Fur Elise on Sunday, not to mention the physical effect it will have on your hands and fingers. Once you niche out some time then you can start to plan short and long term goals for your piano playing.
Short Term Goals
What should I learn? There is a slight learning curve for all beginners. You may find that the first few lessons are somewhat elementary and a bit tedious. Beginners should focus on three things: finger patterns, basic note reading, and chords. You must align these with your short term goals. Why is that? Basic finger patterns (along with proper hand position) lead to scales and the start of playing melodies.
Basic note reading is essential to becoming successful on the piano. Notes and rhythms are the building blocks of music. If you know how to read quarter and eighth notes and can find the corresponding note on the staff to correct key on the keyboard, then you will be ahead of the game. Students who learn to read and play chords have a better understanding of songs, song structure and form.
Long Term Goals
This is usually an easy one. I want to learn to play “X”. However, a better long term goals is determining what song you want to play based on your current level and give yourself a timeline. If you are learning through YouTube, you might need to do a little research before finding the correct tune.
If you are using an interactive music service, then choose a song based on your current unit or level. The best way to state this is to say, “I want to learn Lady Gaga, Born This Way in 3 months”. Choose something that is a bit challenging, but clearly not over your head. This will get easier as you progress.
Putting the Pieces Together
We’ve covered lot of ground in a short amount of time. Whether you choose to learn through YouTube or through an app such as Yousician or Playground Sessions, remember that you control your online piano destiny. Miss a day? Don’t be too hard on yourself! I always tell my students don’t try to eat the cake all at once, you’ll get sick.
Take small bites. Take it slow. This is not a race. Practice one hand at a time. Work on the left hand this week, and start with the right hand next week. Then, piece it together. Don’t be afraid to regroup and try a different song or piece of music if one is not working for you. You can always come back to it. That’s the beauty of music. It will always be there for you when you need it.
If you’re still interested in learning how to play piano or keyboard, get your copy of Piano for All today, which features 10 eBooks, 200 video piano lessons and 500 audio piano lessons!
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