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March 16, 2020

Play Piano? If Not, Why Not? It’s Just This Easy!

Playing piano remains a popular and, for some, a profitable pastime. The piano is a timeless and flexible instrument, central to almost every popular genre. Thanks to synthesizer technology, playing the piano gives one mastery of strings, orchestras, percussion, horns, virtually any and every instrument. 

And there are a lot more benefits to playing piano than a lot of people realize. Playing piano or any instrument reduces stress and so can have a variety of health benefits. It also increases dexterity and may inhibit the later development of joint conditions. Learning to read music is an excellent brain exercise and is known to stimulate learning in children. Teenagers find increased self-esteem, social acceptance, and establish lifelong friendships through musical programs in and out of school.

And when you play the piano, you play just about everything; classical (contemporary or romantic) and orchestral or choral, jazz and blues and R&B, boogie-woogie and rock & roll, ballads, holiday music. If you’re ready, you can try a few right now!

Let’s start with the basics. Whether you’re using an electric keyboard, a spinet, or a grand piano, always use a proper stool—no chairs (with or without arms). Only a bench gives you the room to move up and down those eighty-eight keys unimpeded. Stand up straight with your arms at your sides. Playing a piano should be comfortable, and an aching lower back will not help.

Your fingers correspond to numbers, the thumb of each hand being one, and the pinky being five. Start thinking about them that way, and your learning will go more smoothly, whatever type of lessons you take.

You’ll want to learn to read music, which is not as hard a lot of people think. Most sheet music has chords and melody. If you already know your chords, it’s just a matter of reading the melody or notes. There are only seven notes in the Western scale, each of which can be altered up or down one half-step using a b (flat) or # (sharp) sign. Different keys have prescribed sharps or flats; C has no sharps or flats; E has four sharps, F has one flat. Music is written to a time signature, which means every measure has only a certain amount of beats. 4/4 has four beats per measure; each is a quarter count long. 6/8 has six beats per measure, each of those beats in an eighth count long. An eighth count is half as long as a quarter. Here’s a bit more on that.

Let’s take a closer look at what kind of music you’ll be reading and playing.

Does classical seem intimidating? Romantic era giants like Beethoven require hand independence, and that can be difficult. But here are a few techniques that will have you playing Fur Elise in no time.

Boogie-woogie, the blues, and good ol’ rock & roll use the three-chord pattern known as I-IV-V, which corresponds to the first, fourth, and fifth chords in any particular key. It may sound complicated, but it’s quite simple once you understand the concepts.

Jazz is a lot more harmonically complex, and there are a lot of different types of jazz; bebop, Latin, hot or cool, fusion, Dixieland, and more. The popular film La La Land drew on some of those classic styles. 

But no matter what style you’re into, if you want to learn to play piano, using an app like Skoove is the method of choice for today’s music student. They offer affordability, flexibility, privacy, convenience, precision, and portability.

Just one more thing; you will need a piano or keyboard of some kind. eBay or GumTree or even Craigslist are good places to start, whether you’re interested in an electric or acoustic instrument.

Playing piano opens up social opportunities, personal development, and may even make you star. Good luck, and have fun!

Lisa McElhone
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