by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Did you know that playing piano improves your wellness?
Learning piano benefits both adults and children. From physical health, to slowing the aging process, improving cognitive and problem-solving skills, to improved mood and reducing stress, research has proven the benefits of piano study no matter what age you start.
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Each short video offers a nugget of valuable knowledge for you to apply toward a solid, productive musical learning experience.
My video tips summarize the useful and much more in-depth information from my ebook, "Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning!"
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by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
I saw an online discussion where a piano teacher shared his view that practicing piano should feel like a struggle or be difficult. Though I see his point that no one will get much momentum from simply playing piano for pure enjoyment during every piano practice session, practicing piano does not need to be unenjoyable.
I know from experience that practicing piano can actually be fun, flow smoothly, and feel immensely gratifying as you make incremental musical progress.
You do not have to feel like piano practice should be difficult for you to make progress!
It is much more reasonable to know that the way you spend your piano practice leads directly (or not) to an enjoyable and fruitful experience. How to practice piano effectively is one of the most misunderstood topics for piano learners. But knowing how to practice makes all the difference in your levels of enjoyment, satisfaction, and piano progress.
You achieve these positive experiences when you approach your piano practice with clear goals and make a focused mental effort toward those goals. Reaching each of your musical goals will become an enormous boost to your positive feeling, self-esteem, and love for music learning.
Of course, making concentrated effort itself can be a constant struggle to develop and maintain. But doing so directly impacts your progress in piano practice.
Keeping the fun in piano practice depends on the goals set by you and your piano teacher and how you challenge yourself to achieve them. The specific step-by-step routes to reach each goal are where the variety of piano practice comes into play (Hee! Catch my musical pun?). There are plenty of ways to create an attitude of fun toward each piano practice goal.
You may incorporate a friendly piano competition, aiming for setting a record, making up various games, using piano or music apps for supplemental aid, and piano duets, group or masterclasses, and public performance target dates.
If you’re a beginner piano player, your piano teacher should be able to break your goals down into manageable chunks for daily piano practice. As you learn to stay focused on this kind of goal-directed piano practice, you’ll eventually be able to determine your own piano practice goals.
Typically, goal-setting in piano practice hones straight in on whatever part or aspect of the music is unknown or problematic for the piano student. Troubleshooting is one of the most effective ways to attack piano progress. And, that’s where some may interpret the difficulty of effective practicing lies.
Concentrating on learning something new or challenging takes effort. But our attitude toward making that effort is where the power of fun versus drudgery makes all the difference.
If you only play music that is simple, easy, and fun for you, your piano progress will stagnate. But you don’t have to be a martyr, either! Choose your most challenging goals to face at the start of your piano practice session (or immediately after a short warm-up). Give it your all.
At the end of your practice session, reward yourself by playing all the music you enjoy because you’ve already mastered it. If you consistently challenge the musical goals that force you to concentrate, think, and repeatedly practice, you will be surprised by your progress. Your reward repertoire at the end of each piano practice session will quickly expand.
Being able to play through a variety of musical works successfully is itself an incredible joy and accomplishment. But, to keep progressing, you must balance the rewards of playing something easy for you with your effort to challenge the next musical goal. That discipline is something that you will forge naturally over time if you choose your goals for each piano practice session and learn how to practice them effectively.
How to practice piano effectively is the main topic of my upcoming ebook, My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Effectively.
If you’re a new or returning piano learner, checkout my ebook, "Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning!"
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My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 1
My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 2
My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 3
What Do You Need To Know, Have, Or Do To Begin Piano?
Find A Good Piano Teacher
Your Top 5 Best Tips From A Piano Teacher
What’s The Best Way For A Busy Adult To Learn Piano?
What Keyboard Do I Need For Successful Piano Lessons?
How Learning Piano Benefits Aging Adults
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How Can Piano Playing Nurture Your Creative Energy?
Let me tell you about my ebook, Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning (formerly, What You Need To Know, Have & Do To Start Piano Right).
The crowd roars.
At the surface level, my ebook helps piano beginners or those who want to return to piano after a time gap.
But how is my piano ebook relevant to my brand about nurturing your creativity and inspiration through positive self-care?
Oh, good. I’m so glad you asked.
Self-Care Is The Source Of Your Muse
Having interviewed creatives from artists, writers, and composers to educators, I've learned something about the connection between self-care and creative inspiration. As a creator myself, I know that no matter what personally creative outlet manifests for you, there will be no creative energy unless you take care of yourself first.
I introduce my ebook about successful piano-learning because I know from playing and teaching piano for more than 30 years that developing piano skills is a huge positive for the self-care department.
Wondering If YOU Could Learn To Play Piano?
Maybe you always wanted to learn piano, but you followed a different creative route as a visual artist. Perhaps you had a family and have been on a busy trek with adulting. Possibly you are a musician who wants to add keyboards to your music or compositions. Maybe you are retired and looking for rewarding things to do in your golden stage of life. Or, you played the piano years ago and are yearning to play again.
I am here to tell all of you—every single one of you—that now is the time to go for it. Playing the piano is for everyone.
I taught students from four-year-old children to 90-year seniors, from one-on-one private lessons, small groups to large classes of more than 40 students. And I am informing you that playing the piano is something anyone can learn.
Why would you?
Do You Want To Improve Your Quality of Life?
Making time for yourself right now to finally learn the piano can bring tremendous emotional, physical, and mental rewards. In my ebook, you will learn a great deal more about the benefits of piano-playing. But let me go on record here to say that playing piano has incredibly positive effects on your mood and emotional well-being.
Research on piano study has proven additional impact on academics and learned discipline for children. Research on piano study also shows it develops and prolongs memory and other cognitive skills for all ages. Learning piano can even benefit you physically by warding off hearing loss and decreasing aches and pains!
How Can Playing Piano Improve Your Confidence?
Playing the piano is a powerfully therapeutic tool. Playing music allows you a safe place to express yourself authentically. Where there are no words, playing the piano rises to fill the need for spiritual connection and emotional expression.
Playing the piano is a beautiful way to nurture your self-care. It allows you to improve self-confidence by developing the ability to overcome self-limited thinking patterns. As you gradually develop piano skills, your sense of accomplishment transforms your outlook on your future success. That is a powerful tool for self-esteem.
How Piano-Playing Replenishes Your Creativity
If you have checked out any of my blogs or podcasts on YourCreativeChord, you will know that an aspect of creative rejuvenation involves challenging new experiences. Whether you drive home a different route, try fresh cuisine, learn a new language, or cook with a new recipe, exploring a new thing is a profound catalyst for sparking creative energy.
If you want to learn to play the piano or come back to piano lessons, know that this musical journey brings the wonderful benefit of boosting your creativity. The rewards of playing piano also extend to the personally gratifying experiences of accomplishment, improved mood (can you imagine how that helps your relationships with others?), and the joy of self-expression.
How My Piano Ebook Benefits Your Creative Life
These are all part of the interconnected ocean of self-care. Learning to try new things, do the things we always wanted to, and challenge ourselves are fantastic ways to develop self-care. Self-care is a way of life that allows you to awaken new thought processes, generate fresh ideas, replenish your energy and live a more inspired and balanced quality of life.
This is how my ebook, Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning! can benefit your creative life. I hope you take that leap of faith in yourself to try this new thing. I know you’re gonna love it.
WHAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT MY EBOOK:
"What a great resource for potential piano parents to have."
~-Krista Schupbach, PIANO TEACHER
"Excellent e-book! EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE STARTING PIANO. There is just about everything you can think in [this ebook], like a bible of what you should know. I also enjoyed previous articles and links from [YourCreativeChord.com] blog -- which only strengthens [the author] as an authority on piano. Great job!"
--Joshua Sohn, FILM & GAME COMPOSER
"A great book that will inspire many people to take up piano lessons. It inspires me to continue playing and composing. Many people [will want] to start piano studies after reading [this] ebook. Looking forward to [the author's] next ebook."
--Alex Dawson, RETIRED PIANO TEACHER
"Genuinely, this is a good resource, and a reassuring one to someone coming at the piano with some trepidation, intimidation, or wondering, Am I too old to start?"
--Tracie Callahan, COMPOSER, MUSIC EDUCATOR
Tips For Adults Who Want To Learn Piano
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
In my quest to see if what I’ve learned in 30+ years as a pianist and piano teacher is in sync with other piano teachers and pianists, I’ve checked out Facebook piano groups. This is where I engaged in a thread on piano practice with hobbyist piano player, Tommy Doyle, of Manchester, United Kingdom.
Doyle’s website is where he shares his journey as someone who studied piano in his youth, left it behind for many years due to ‘adulting,’ then returned to the piano as a hobby. His blog offers his insights on how to approach learning piano while juggling the working adult’s non-music-related daily responsibilities.
Although not a piano teacher, hearing from Doyle’s personal journey with striving to fit in his love for piano minus the hyper-ambition of a classical piano career gets at the heart of what many aspiring pianists want to know.
I asked Doyle five questions that are useful for those wanting to progress at piano playing. The first sentence of his first answer hit the essence of my philosophy and teaching strategy for effective piano progress.
YCC: What are your top piano practice tips for beginners?
DOYLE: My top tip for anybody wanting to learn to play piano is to learn how to practice piano.
This might seem a self-evident thing to say, however, the reality seems to be that many of us never learn the art of practicing. In my experience, we often find intuitive ways of doing things and in these cases if we just repeat a few times, we soon acquire a new skill. However, when we don’t find that intuitive means, we have to find a way to learn a new skill. This is where practice techniques play a big part. If you’re unable to do something, then just repeating it incorrectly isn’t going to help. I found a couple of really useful resources in this respect that I’ve talked about numerous times on my blog.
YCC: Doyle specifically recommends the Practicing The Piano ebook series by pianist/educator, Graham Fitch. Fitch is highly qualified as a graduate of London’s Royal College Of Music who continued his piano studies in the USA on a Fulbright Scholarship, and travels as a performing pianist and lecturer on piano and music.
I haven’t personally used Fitch’s series, but on first glance at the preview on Amazon, some of his top tips for practicing include; choosing a specific fingering, attention to practice only correct notes or rhythms, isolating hands separately before playing hands together, choosing a slow tempo for new repertoire, and using soft dynamics for a loud section.
Each of these methods is something I’ve used myself and in teaching others, and resonates with my teaching and practicing approach to focus on mastering one goal at a time, and to eliminate practicing mistakes robotically.
Doyle especially likes the ebooks for their direct links to audio and video demonstrations as part of the piano learning process. This is in sync with both how my piano teachers taught me, and my approach as a piano teacher to model for students so they may grasp concepts aurally, physically and visually. Today’s online capabilities can be a useful source of help for piano students.
For more information on the series, Doyle himself reviewed it here.
YCC: What are the basics you recommend for someone who wants to begin learning piano?
DOYLE: I highly recommend that anybody start by getting a teacher. I’m not saying you can’t teach yourself with sufficient research and trial and error, with the myriad of resources now available online. It’s definitely possible.
However, I think there’s an absolutely massive learning curve at the beginning (depending on your starting point). Not only is there the issue of actually playing the instrument, there’s also the question of learning to read music. Finding a good teacher to get you over these two massive initial hurdles is to my mind a well worthwhile investment.
A teacher is there to help you master the very basics - how to sit at the piano, how to hold your hands, how to play the notes. You teacher can also explain what those odd dots on the page actually mean and give strategies for absorbing the ability to translate these into notes at the piano.
A good teacher will also help you get to grips with lots of the basics you need; Scales, Arpeggios, 5-finger exercises and the like. Learning how to do these well gives you the absolute essential building blocks for the rest. Your teacher will also help you with choices of pieces (music repertoire) to learn that are both within your grasp but also in terms of styles of music you enjoy.
YCC: What are your thoughts on online learning for piano?
DOYLE: I’m a firm believer that we should embrace the possibilities that the new online world offers us. Starting with YouTube, there is an enormous wealth of quality tutorials for people of all levels.
YCC: Doyle has his favorite channels, but mentions the importance of checking into the background experience of videos to confirm credentials of expertise. He recommends Josh Wright, who is both well known on YouTube, has a doctorate in piano, and is an experienced teacher.
Doyle doesn’t use apps himself, but “as a supplement to a proper teacher, I’d imagine they’re a great extra source of learning and certainly a very fun way to approach piano. Of course, claims that you can go from ‘beginner to pro in no time’ are total nonsense.”
Doyle quotes Vladimir Horowitz (considered the king of classical piano) the piano is “the easiest instrument to learn in the beginning and the hardest to master in the end.”
YCC: Do you have any technology you’d recommend for piano students?
DOYLE: Technology is one of my pet subjects. I even created a category on my blog for this. What I find amazing even now is the absolutely amazing ways technology can be used by pianists now.
I have an iPad Pro that I use as an integral part of my piano routine. This one piece of technology has replaced my need for sheet music (I download directly to my iPad), for a metronome (I use a free a metronome app).
I keep my practice diary on it. I use it to record my practice so I can self critique. It’s pretty much always on my piano music stand. You can use it for things such as streaming music services, watching YouTube videos, reading magazines, the list goes on. You can even record your own orchestra into your computer and play along.
I think that sometimes we more ‘mature’ learners fail to embrace what technology makes possible and stick with the ‘old way’. It’s a bit like my dad, who refuses to use a SatNav (GPS), just because he’s never used one and, on that basis, would never need one.
It’s not about whether we need something, but about whether it makes what we’re trying to do easier. If technology can make things easier, then why not embrace it?
When I used to play piano publicly, I needed to carry two massive plastic bags of music around with me with all sorts of photocopies and creased and wrinkled books. Now, on my iPad, I have all of my music organised, with the added advantage that I can search and find a piece in seconds rather than needing to sift through a lot of paper.
YCC: What are your thoughts on time and schedule routine for piano practice?
Doyle shares that reading Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible by Alan Rusbridger inspired him to create his weekday before-work practice routine. He says he gets up an hour earlier in the morning so he can practice.
DOYLE: I found that before I started doing this I had two major problems. The first was that it was always in the back of my mind that I still needed to fit in my practice at some point. Secondly, work would frequently take over, and by the time I actually got home from work I was too tired to sit down at the piano.
My practice routine before was pretty much sitting and randomly working through things, which quite often was not actually making me any better.
YCC: Doyle says his research into piano practice taught him the importance of having a proper plan. He says having defined goals and strategies for every practice session is a “real game changer.”
Doyle emphasizes that “piano is an amazing hobby open to anybody. It’s definitely a lot of hard work, but the rewards are more than worth it.”
Click here to read more about Doyle’s approach to piano practice.
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In my PIANO blogs, you'll find ways to overcome boredom, get past musical and mental blocks, explore the creative process with piano, and improve musical progress through piano teacher recommended best practices and effective piano practice tips.