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when I first started the piano I like a lot of other people started selft talk and if I was to start again today there is a lot of things that I would do very very differently so in this video I want to tell you how you can start learning the piano self tour including what you need how to set goals what you should learn and why I’m going to talk about some common problems that a lot of people run into how to avoid them and how to fix them I’ll give you some good video book and course recommendations to best fit what you want to learn and I’m also going to talk about how to keep going and to get better over the long term there are definitely some advantages to learning self-taught such as let’s be honest you can play what you want and obviously it’s a lot cheaper to learn without a teacher however there are also some disadvantages to learning selftaught and that is that you don’t know what you need to learn and you can also run into problems that are going to affect your playing long term such as if you don’t understand something that you need to know or if you’ve skipped a certain element of practice like sight reading but hopefully in this video I’m going to alleviate some of those disadvantages of playing selft talk so let’s start with what you actually need to get started firstly you’re going to need something to play on and if you don’t have something to play on already then the best thing to get is a digital piano or an acoustic piano that has 88 keys weighted keys and that has a sustained pedal if you have an instrument that has those things then it’s going to last you a pretty long time the other thing that you’re going to need is an idea about what you actually want to achieve by playing the piano that can be as simple as you want to be able to pick up a piece of music and play songs that you like it could be that you want to get to grade8 piano could be that you’re a music producer and you want to get really good at music theory and use the piano to do that there are lots of reasons why you might want to learn the piano because if you are someone for example that wants to be able to work songs out by ear then it’s going to be pretty pointless sitting down and reading a bark Prelude so that’s what you need let’s talk about how you’re actually going to get there so the way that I stay committed to learning the piano without losing motivation was to set long-term goals short-term goals and very short-term goals now to me long-term goals are something that should take around 6 months to a year to complete for example taking a graded piano exam or learning a Beethoven Sonata longer term goals tend to be outcome related so they’re goals where you want to get something out of it at the end however long-term goals on their own they’re very difficult to stay motivated which is why you should have short-term goals and very short-term goals these should both be based on input rather than outcome and by that your short-term and very short-term goals should be based on what you actually do rather than what you’re actually going to get out of it for example a shortterm input goal might be this week I’m going to practice four times for 30 minutes and that is a goal that is entirely dependent on whether you do it or don’t do it and then there are very short-term goals and that is things that you’re going to do today now once again this should be input related rather than outcome related so it needs to be something that you can do without the guarantee of an outcome but your very short-term goals should always be in service of your short-term goals and your short-term goals should always be in service of your long-term goals and here’s an example for you so I might have a long-term goal of achieving grade one on the piano and in order to be able to do that in 6 months time this week I’m going to practice 6 days a week for 30 minutes and in my practice today that is 30 minutes long I’m going to practice two of the scales I’m going to practice the first four bars of a piece and I might also do four sight reading exercises and then the key to this is once you’ve actually achieved your long-term goal then you need to set another achievable long-term goals straight away if you have constant long-term back-to-back goals then it just becomes habit and on a day-to-day basis it’s just something that you do rather than thinking today I can’t be bothered but what do you actually need to learn when you’re first starting to teach yourself the piano well that largely depends on what you actually want to get out of learning the piano but there are five main categories of things that you can learn the first is sheet music reading there’s scales chords music theory and oral skills which is just listening now I would suggest for anyone that’s teaching themselves the piano especially at the basic beginner level to try and start learning a little bit of all of these because they are all all very very important so let’s talk about what’s involved in each of these five categories and why you actually might want to learn them so firstly sheet music reading you can very easily see visually on a piece of music exactly what’s happening and composers can be really specific when writing sheet music as to how they want you to play it if you just play by ear for example then you are playing everything how you want to play it which is not a bad thing but learning how other people write music and seeing what is possible in music can expand how you interpret something played by ear because the more music you’ve read the more tools you’ve got and then there’s scales scales are what music is made from on a piano there are 12 different unique keys and major and minor scales which are the most common types of scales narrow those 12 notes down to just seven so if you are reading a piece of music or you’re listening to a piece of music and you know what scale that piece of music is using it becomes a lot easier to work out what the note should be and when you practice scales on the piano what you’re really doing is giving yourself an opportunity to get really dextrous but you’re also making that set of notes automatic in your hands so if you know the scale of G major really well and you come across a piece that’s in the key of G major then your hand is going to automatically know which notes you’re going to be playing on the keys then there’s chords there are certain patterns of chords that are really important to learn such as Triads or seventh chords these types of chords are really common and come up time and time again so if you learn the standard patterns of chords that you’re going to see then when you see them or hear them in a piece of music your hand is automatically going to know where to go and a lot of learning the piano is about patterns and pattern recognition and that’s why people at first start learning an instrument find it so difficult to site read music because what they’re trying to do is read every single individual note on the page whereas someone who is more experienced in music will look at a piece of music and just see it as a set of patterns that are happening that they’ve seen before in other pieces then there’s music theory if you understand how music works then it’s very easy to write your own music to write transcriptions or interpretations of other people’s music if you’re a singer then you can change the key of a piece of music so that it fits better in your vocal range so learning music theory is very very helpful and it’s kind of interesting and then there’s oral skills and oral skills just mean listening skills so learning to hear different notes and how they relate to each other and learning how different types of chord sound if you listen to a piece of music and you really like that piece of music there’s no music playing and you want to understand why you really like that piece of music so you can recreate it or write something similar or if you want to be able to work something out on the piano by ear then you’re going to want to learn how different intervals sound and intervals just means the distance between notes learning to use your ears is really beneficial especially if you want to improvise if you want to play with other people if you want to work stuff out by ear it has lots of benefits so that’s what to learn and why let’s talk about some common problems that people often face when learning by themselves the first and probably the biggest is tension and tension is a massive problem because your hands aren’t necessar neily going to do what you want them to do and it can be very tempting to force them by tensing your hands so the first thing you can do about this is first of all notice if you are tense or not if your hands start to wake or you’re finding that your hand is becoming rigid then know that you can and need to do something about it if your hands are generally tense then what I would recommend doing is using scales to practice trying to shake your hand out every note like this by wobbling your hand like that it means that your hand can’t be tense you’re finding that you’re just tense when playing certain parts of pieces then stop on the notes where you’re finding that your hand is tensing and do the same thing so wobble your hand about the second common problem that people have is sitting too high or too low at the piano now I’m probably not helping the case here cuz I always have the piano too high for videos and that’s just so you can see my wonderful face and the keys at the same time however the best way to think about why you should sit and where the piano should be positioned is that your arms should be just over a right angle or 90° so if I was trying to to sit at the correct height for this piano I’d be sitting kind of there you want it to be so that your hands can sit comfortably and you’re not having to do any weird movements to be able to reach the keys another common problem is people using weird fingers and doing things like this or putting their hand upside down once again if you learn scales and this does combat most of this problem because you learn the correct fingers to use in certain circumstances but generally if you’re playing a piece of music and you’ve run out of fingers then you need to change the fingers you used earlier on rather than just trying to get through the piece and playing really random fingers and jumping around my best advice is to just plan the fingers that you’re going to use another common problem is people looking at their hands rather than looking at the music looking at your hands isn’t inherently a problem in itself the problem is if you are trying to learn to read music then not looking at the music is not going to help you learn to read music it also means that if you’re reading off a piece of music then you’re missing most of the detail that’s in the music if you start start to look at your hands as soon as you start to memorize it so once you played a piece of music a fair few times and you are starting to memorize it which will happen try and consciously follow the music with your eyes rather than looking at your hands another common problem is covering mistakes using the sustain pedal if I play a scale and it sounds like this with the [Music] pedal all of those notes sound the same but if I play the same scale like this you can hear a very clear gap between the third and fourth note and that Gap was covered by the pedal which means although my hand is not doing the thing that I wanted to do the pedal is covering it up so I don’t know that mistakes there so to combat this try and play pieces with and without the pedal and if there are mistakes without the pedal then fix them rather than just covering it with the pedal another common problem is trying to learn really quickly and forcing it a lot of people when they first start learning think that they should be learning more quickly and that they’re learning too slow so they try and force it by learning really difficult pieces or trying to run before they can walk and although it’s okay to do difficult pieces sometimes you’ve really got to be careful that you don’t try and skip a load of things in order to get there quicker because it will be obvious in your playing and the last common mistake that I see people make is that they use stickers on their piano my blanket recommendation would be to not use stickers on the piano because instead of learning what the keys actually are you’re just learning to read the letter on the key it also means that if you’re trying to read music you’re associating the dot with the letter rather than the dot with the key okay let’s talk about the best resources for learning the piano as a self-taught beginner now firstly there is a video on YouTube by a YouTube channel called piano from scratch which is essentially a first lesson on how to start playing the piano and I actually think it’s a very good video for those that have never played before and want to know where the keys are on the piano and that kind of thing it does a very good job of explaining another good video on YouTube is a video by a channel called musicians inspired and it’s about the landmark system The Landmark system I think is the best method for learning how to read sheet music and and where all the notes are on the page and the video by musicians inspired is very good at explaining it and then to plug my own videos I have done a video that is a complete guide to using the piano pedals that is an older video that I’ve made so I do sound a little bit personality however I covered the same topic and a lot of other topics that might be interesting in my video that is the top 10 most asked piano questions and if you want to learn how to play by ear I’ve also done several videos on how you can go about starting to learn to play by ear then there are a couple of books that I would recommend first of all it’s the book it’s never too late to play piano by Pam Wedgewood this is the go-to book that I use when I’m teaching adult beginners how to start learning the piano I think it’s very good at explaining and it’s not as slow in progressing as a children’s book might be a good book for children that are learning is the complete me and my piano book there are lots and lots of beginner piano learning books out there and all of them are equally as good you’ve just got to find something that best fits how you learn for site reading I would recommend my site reading book once you start learning how to read music and you’re starting to understand the notes site reading is kind of a different skill site reading is your ability to read a piece of music immediately rather than spend some time learning it and perfecting the piece so my site reading book which you can download on my website is a series of hundreds of exercises that get progressively harder the problem that I found with a lot of sight read material out there is that there just isn’t enough of it if you buy a graded site reading book for example there usually are about 55 exercises and by the time you’ve got to the end of those exercises you’re probably not that much better than when you started but I designed the book to get progressively harder and because there are over 400 exercises you can just constantly be saturating yourself with note reading and then for music theory I would recommend either the discovering Music Theory series of books or the music theory and practice series of books by abrsm both of these books are following the graded system so grade one to eight and if you are an absolute beginner get the grade one book work your way through it and then when you feel comfortable with that then you can get the the grade two book and so on it’s very methodical with how you work through the music theory and start understanding some really complex topics and then for courses there is a series of Music Theory courses on udemy by someone called Victoria Williams who goes through some of the grades of Music Theory and she’s very good at explaining and getting you to work through how the music theory works and I am currently working on a playing music by air course myself so when that’s available I will recommend that so let’s talk about how to keep going and continuing to get better over a long period of time whenever starting any new skill a lot of people get very excited to start with and then want to practice six hours a day but then burn out and don’t want to practice the instrument anymore I think a lot of that problem will be solved by setting some long-term and shortterm goals to hold yourself accountable but some other things that you can do are things like recording your progress if you record yourself playing a piece every month or every week or something like that then you can really start to see your progress if you really wanted to you could could even start a YouTube channel documenting your progress and then do a one year’s piano progress video and then you might find yourself being reacted to by me other things that you can do are things like quantifying success and measuring it for example if you did a 60-day challenge where you were to try and practice 30 minutes every day for 60 days straight by the end of the 60 days you will know whether you’ve succeeded or not and that’s something that you can quantifiably measure and finally you can get some feedback from peers or from musicians there are lots and lots of Facebook group groups with other beginners in that are trying to learn and they’re always giving each other feedback or you can ask musicians for their feedback you can always ask any questions that you have in the comments and I’ll answer them or you can book in through my website and I will happily tell you how to improve and I know a lot of other musicians will do that too but if you want to see me react to someone’s one year of piano progress then check out this video and I will see you there …

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