What’s the Best Way to Learn Piano at Home?

Playing Piano Chords

Do you want to learn to play the piano but don’t quite understand how best you can go about learning to play from the comfort of your home?  Well, the beauty of piano is that you are never too old to begin learning how to play this wonderful instrument.  As long as you are eager to learn, there are no limitations as to what you can do, and there are several methods to achieving your goal.

This article will first cover some of the basics of playing piano (hand placement, posture, etc), and eventually move into understanding notes, chords, music theory, and overall breaking down the complexity of playing piano and put it into simple terms anyone can understand.

Finally, we will then discuss different software programs and other learning tools that were created to be a convenient and effective way to teach yourself how to play the piano inside your own home.

  • 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 before we get started, if you are in the market for a piano, please use our interactive guide below to compare and contrast some of the best selling digital pianos that are currently available:

Yamaha P-515
Casio PX-870
Yamaha YDP-165
Roland RP-102
Casio PX 560Casio PX-560

Essential Questions for How to Play Piano

First, let’s begin with the basics.  Here are just a handful of questions that you might be asking yourself when it comes to learning how to play:

  • What will learning to play the piano entail? 

Proper technique and theory are two essential components in learning to play the piano.  Technique ranges in scope from things like fingering and posture to hand position.  Theory is the actual understanding of how to read and play music.

  • What is fingering and why is it important?

When learning to play the piano, one of the fundamentals you will learn is fingering.  Each finger on each of your hands is represented by a number.  This number will often be written above the sheet music you will be playing to help you understand which finger should be placed on which key. 

Why is this important?  It is important because proper fingering assists us in playing things smoothly, and with the least amount of difficulty.  Because we all have different hand sizes, fingering can allow us to reach a greater breadth of notes with our hands regardless of whether our hands are small or large. 

  • What does proper piano playing posture look like?

Proper piano playing posture is dependent upon the height of the piano bench, the distance from the piano itself, and our seated position on the bench.  Ideally, we should be seated in such a manner that our arms and shoulders are able to fall naturally, allowing us to bend at the elbows comfortably without putting stress or tension on the upper body.  Our forearms should be in a parallel line with the floor, and our hands should rest in their natural, slightly curved position as they rest on the keyboard.  The optimal thing to remember is the upper body should remain comfortable and relaxed.

The distance from the piano should be such that you can easily reach the pedals with your feet and can place your hands on the keyboard without having to stretch or curve your spine.  You want to be sitting at almost precisely a 90 degree angle with a straight and tension-free back.  A slight leaning forward is acceptable, and for many, is necessary for optimal performance. 

Placement on the piano bench itself is also critical.  Generally, it is best to sit near the edge of the bench, but with your entire butt completely on it.  You do not want to sit directly in the center of the bench or near the back as your center of gravity will be shifted which places too much stress on the spine and upper body, potentially resulting in injury.  It is wise to place your body so that you feel secure in your place and are able to move freely.

  • What is the correct position for my hands in learning to play the piano?

There is indeed a correct position for your hands on the piano.  It is vital for you to learn this, as incorrect positioning can create problems for you in your quest to learn.  Many people do not have the ability to manipulate their hands as freely as others.  Proper positioning of your hands will assist with this.  Also, if we opt not to adopt a proper hand position, it is possible we will suffer from pain or cramping in our hands after only a short period of time. 

The ideal hand position for the piano is as if your hand is gripping a tennis ball.  You want the palm to be slightly arched and the fingers curved around as if holding the ball.   This shape allows you access to any key on the piano with ease and prevents your hands from becoming injured or fatigued. 

It is also important to keep your nails short.  Longer nails click on the piano and disrupt the listener’s attention from the beauty of the music you are playing.  But more than that, they can also wreak havoc with the proper position of the hand, therefore interrupting the facility of the learning process. 

  • What is theory and how does it apply to piano playing?

Music is a language.  To understand that language properly, we must become “fluent” in it.  Music theory is that language. 

Music theory is essentially a set of rules that assist us in learning to read music.  A quick glance at a basic piece of sheet music for piano will reveal that piano music is derived of two staves (or staff); each staff having its own clef. 

It is also composed of time signatures and key signatures, as well as notes of various shapes and durations on different lines and in different spaces.  These notes are also arranged in groups known as chords and are to be played simultaneously.  At other times, the notes appear singly and are more spaced out along the staff.  A thorough study of music theory will help us to understand these things, and over time, they simply become rote for us. 

Now that you’ve decided you are ready to take the plunge and learn the piano, where do you begin?  Generally, you start by choosing what method you feel will work best for you.

Different Methods to Learn Piano

There are many different options available to us today for learning to play the piano.  Some of the choices are as follows:

  • Private lessons in your home with a professional piano teacher
  • Private lessons in the studio of a professional piano teacher
  • The use of a illuminating keyboard or piano
  • The use of pedagogic software such as Playground Sessions, Piano Marvel, or Learn Piano in 30 Days
  • The use of online video services or interactive ebooks such as Piano for All
  • The purchasing and use of “do it yourself” books

Traditional methods

Traditionally through the years, piano has been taught by attending lessons with a professional piano teacher.  Many teachers are willing to come directly to your home and work with you.  Others have studios of their own that you may come to for your weekly lessons.

As with all methods of learning, there are advantages and disadvantages.  For some, it is not convenient for them to attend a weekly lesson, or competent teachers cannot be found in their area.  Others still may want to learn at their own pace or follow a “curriculum” better suited to their needs than more conventional means to learn the piano. 

Technology/software based programs

Play Piano at Home with Various Software Programs
Play Piano at Home with Various Software Programs

Technology has afforded us new ways to learn to play the piano.  Using certain kinds of software programs can provide more flexibility to our new hobby and allow us to focus on specific genres of music that might appeal more directly to us.

One interesting option is the use of an illuminating piano (i.e. a piano that has lighted key functionality).  These 61 key digital pianos connect to music software wirelessly or via a USB cable.  They are compatible with Mac and PC products, and if used via Bluetooth, there is even an option for use with the iPad.

The illuminating piano works by equipping keys to light up in a variety of colors and combinations via the use of a MIDI controller.  You select the song that you would like to learn to play, and the software transmits signals to the appropriate keys to light up just before you are to play them. 

The advantage to this is it allows you to learn some of your favorite songs quickly and to feel encouraged by immediately measurable progress.  With the use of this type of piano and its software, you can literally play piano today!  Opting to buy a digital piano of this nature can give you a jump start to your learning and is a great way to get your feet wet. 

Piano pedagogic software is another great avenue for learning to play the piano, and there are many excellent programs on the market today.  The advantage to using piano pedagogic software is the additional bonus tools.  With a program such as Playground Sessions or Piano Marvel, students have access to online motivation in the form of real time coaches as well as such things as video tutorials, online practice tracking, printable music, worksheets, and so much more. 

It’s one stop shopping for the beginner piano student. 

In addition to this, the “fun quotient” increases exponentially with the ability to turn your practice time into a recording session at the click of a few keystrokes.  It takes a lot of the “work” out of learning the piano by adding in extra elements that build on the student’s motivation and drive to learn. 

More than all of this, you do actually learn using these methods.  In fact, some people feel that students who opt to employ piano pedagogic software are well able to learn such skills as sight reading, music theory, musical notation, and playing by ear through the use of these programs alone.  These software programs are also geared to all levels of learning, so this is not just for the beginners—even professional musicians can benefit from them. 

Another great avenue for learning the piano is the use of video-on-demand services or interactive ebooks such as Piano for All

Piano for All is an excellent program that teaches the student a musical foundation based on chords that can then be applied to a wide genre of music.  It makes the student feel empowered as with this foundation securely in hand, the student is able to play songs in no time with a professional sound and feel. 

One of the strengths of Piano for All is its ability to teach a simple concept in a way that is interesting and fun, then to treat each subsequent lesson as a building block upon that foundation.  Through an interesting combination of learning styles, Piano for All allows the student to learn to read music in a comparatively short amount of time and with no reliance upon traditional methods of theory acquisition. 

They’ve found a way to make theory quite effortless.

Piano for All relies upon a revolutionary platform of teaching the piano via a combination of techniques.  The premise of the program is that learning takes place through listening and seeing simultaneously.  These two important actions assist with teaching two skills that other programs don’t seem to be able to deliver quite as well.  Those two valuable skills are sight reading and playing by ear. 

In addition to all of these wonderful things, Piano for All is a very inexpensive program to purchase.  It is a one time cost as opposed to a subscriber service such as Playground Sessions.  It prides itself on excellent customer support and is both easy to install and use. 

So, how can this help you?  Well, each interactive ebook contains video footage of two keyboards; one which is being played, and the other which is simply lighting up the played keys along with the names of each key as it is played.  This allows you to become familiar with the piano keyboard and to learn all of the necessary note names without a single minute plugged into a boring old theory book. 

You simply learn as you play. 

The online teacher instructs you where to place your hands, as well as explains what you are playing.  He informs you of any of the important musical terms you will need to know as you progress through the ebooks.  The program integrates the drudgery of theory into the fun of playing, allowing you to learn two skills for the price of one!

Do it Yourself/Method Books

Of course, “do it yourself” books can also be a helpful tool for you.  Books such as Piano for Dummies can give you a great jumpstart into your new piano playing efforts.  There is much that can be learned from these types of method books, and as with the interactive ebooks or pedagogic software, they can be worked through at your own pace. 

  • 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!

We hope you found this article helpful, and if you did, we highly encourage you to visit our Digital Piano Review Guide Facebook page!

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  3. Digital Piano Buyers Guide: Beginners Edition

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