The piano methods available for learning keyboard instruments today are varied and are no longer limited to taking private lessons from a teacher. Here are the more common piano learning and teaching methods in existence today, in case you want to learn to play the Piano. Read more on the pros and cons of each and see what method suits you best!
At the basic level, there are only two ways of learning. One is to get hold of a good teacher or music school and learn directly from the trainer, and the other option is to find learning materials and learn on your own.
Here are the pros and cons of both!
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Personal Music Teacher
This is the best way to start provided you have time on your hand and you don’t mind spending on the lessons.
The best thing about having a personal piano teacher is that the learning curve is faster; there is less probability of you picking up any bad playing habits. Another thing is that there will always be someone to motivate you, to push your to put in more efforts which is absolutely needed in the earlier days.
You will also know the various career paths that are available to professional players and also know more about the local music scene from your trainer. You may not need it immediately but it will encourage you to work hard on your piano playing.
Also, you can occasionally ask your teacher to teach you how to play the latest hit songs on the piano.
Almost all the teachers will be able to teach you as an absolute beginner. But if you are more of an intermediate level student and have taken lessons before, it might be difficult for you to find a teacher with the right competencies.
For most, especially children, it can be a challenge if you have to visit your teacher, especially if you have to travel a long distance. It would be better if you have a tutor come over to your place but then it means you need to pay more. Adults will need to be dedicated enough to take the lessons, considering they will have several other things to do.
Once in a week may not be sufficient for many. It also means if you have any doubt or want clarity on any particular learning concept or exercise, you will have to wait for the next lesson.
So overall this is a good option but then it can be a challenge to find a good teacher for private lessons. This can be the most expensive learning option.
Group Music Lessons
This means enrolling in a music school for lessons!
This can be a fun way to learn and also make friends with other students, some of whom may be learning to play other musical instruments as well.You will learn how to play in a group, which is a good skill to acquire! And if you spend a few years learning there, who knows, you might even form a band with the friends that you make there.
Biggest advantage of going to a music school is that it increases your overall knowledge of music, not just specific to the piano. You will learn a lot about other instruments as well and the way those instruments are used together in a song. You will even be exposed to sound recording and music technology.
The downside is that it is difficult to find a good school in the vicinity. You should be willing to travel a long distance if you want to earn in a good music school.
If you miss a class, they are not going to stop that session for you. You will have to somehow manage and learn what was taught in that class on your own. Though friends are good, it also means that you might unnecessarily spend time on non-music related things.
It is still among the more expensive options out there, but gives a well rounded knowledge about music. So overall it would be a great thing if you can attend a music school; the downside being the cost associated with it.
Learning on Your Own
Before we go to the pros and cons of this method, here’s a quick look at the various options that are available in case you want to learn to play the piano on your own.
Piano Method Books
These are nothing but a series of books covering all the necessary concepts, exercises and songs for your practice. Almost all the books nowadays come with a CD that contains the lessons, exercises and songs that are covered in the book. So the best part is that you know how any song or exercise is supposed to sound.
Software / DVD Courses
This is the more common method of learning music nowadays where you make use of software or DVD based learning program. Eventually one would expect all of these to be available in software format, but as of now there are some programs which offer there courses only as DVDs.
These can be quite comprehensive with several lessons, exercises and play-along songs for practice. What makes them really enjoyable is that these are available as video lessons, so you can actually see what notes are to be played and how it is supposed to sound.
The best part about these options is that you can learn right at home, and go through the lessons as many times as you wish.
The cost is much less compared to private music lessons. You also save a lot of your travelling time.
Most recent learning programs make learning to play the piano quite interesting, so you are really not bored going through them.
The downside is that you need to be really self-motivated as there won’t be anybody to prod you. It lacks the personal touch of a teacher.
It’s likely that you may pick up some bad playing habits or interpret something wrongly if you are not careful and if you don’t observe the video lessons carefully.
You will need a computer to be able to make use of these learning courses. Some of them are DVD based so you will need a DVD player.
Overall, this is an extremely cost-effective option to get started, especially if you are juggling with many more things in life and are short of time. Here are some good piano learning couses that you may consider.
Though the above are the more common methods of learning, several publishers, based on their years of experience in the music teaching business, have methods books that also can be used for learning to play the piano.
Piano method books are basically a series of books designed to take you from the beginner levels to more advanced levels be introducing the various lessons and concepts in a systematic manner.
Not all the methods rely totally on books though, and include performance opportunities, as part of the methods. Here are some of the more popular ones.
Children’s Methods for learning the Piano
Some of these have been around for several years now.
- Alfred Piano Method for children & for All Ages
- Bastien Method for Children
- Clark Method (The Music Tree)
- Faber and Faber
- Piano Adventures Method by Fabers
- Pace Method
- Robyn Method
- Suzuki Method for Piano
- Thompson Method
- Rote Method
- Miracle Methods
Adult Methods for learning the Piano
These are designed for adults, and usually include a different set of practice songs.
- Alfred’s Adult Piano lessons
- Bastien Method for Adults
- Play by Choice
- Pace Method for Older Beginners
Do You Have to Use These Methods Books
If you will be enrolling yourself in a music school, or if you’ll be taking lessons from a piano teacher, I would suggest that you wait for a few months before you buy any of these. Most music schools provide their own music books and most teachers also give you hand-written notes initially. Based on your progress, you can add some of these to your library.
Students who decide to learn on their own usually go in for a combination of DVD based learning and method books.
Over time, as you become better at the piano, you would be in a better position to decide what books you should buy based on your understanding of music.
I just had one method book in my library, and a lots of books that focused on specific skills such as sight-reading, piano technique, how to play boogie-woogie, and so on. I hope you get the idea!
I hope you now have a clearer picture of how you can proceed with your piano learning. You may have to use a combination of the various piano methods, depending on your age, temperament, time to spare, and ambition. For those of you are not ready for a personal piano tutor yet, or who want to learn on their own, a more efficient and cost-effective solution would be to get hold of a good piano lessons software.
Learn to Play Piano the Right Way with Piano Learning Software
Read more on how to play piano
How to play electronic keyboards
How to play piano by ear?
Learn how to read Music
Sight Reading Piano – How to do it the right way
Adult Piano Lessons