12 Do's and Don'ts for Beginner Piano
12 Do’s and Don’ts for Beginner Piano
Here is a cheeky list of do’s and don’ts for our students who have just started their piano lessons:
1. Do keep your nails trimmed.
Focus on the elegant sounds coming from the keys that you touch on the piano. Back up percussion from tapping fingernails is not needed. It is also difficult to achieve the curved hand positioning if the student has long fingernails. Their fingers will fall flat.
2. Do practice the piano daily.
Building finger muscle, finger control, and dexterity do not happen overnight. The daily practice of scales and pieces also forces a beginner to review and remember the piano teacher’s instructions and tips on how to improve. Teachers remember the tips they gave to their students and are hopeful that their students show progress week to week. There should be a noticeable difference between how you play at the 2-month mark versus the 6-month mark.
3. Do sit facing forward with feet flat on the floor (if possible).
Dangling feet is a distraction for many younger students and investing in a footrest or stool could be worthwhile. Do not cross the legs or ankles. Feet should be facing the same direction as your body.
4. Do play with curved fingers.
If you play with your fingers as straight as sticks, you introduce tension to those fingers and it will be difficult to manipulate your fingers to quickly play a series of neighbouring notes. It is easier to cross fingers one over the other if the fingers are curved and not flat.
5. Do follow the finger placement numbers printed in your piano books.
Those numbers printed above the notes or written in by your piano teacher show the ideal finger configuration to ensure smooth playing and transitions.
6. Do hold the last note of the piece for the whole count as written by the composer.
Don’t immediately lift your hands away from the keyboard unless that final note is followed by a rest. An abrupt end is akin to having someone press “stop” while watching a movie, leaving a feeling of unfinished business.
7. Don’t get discouraged.
It takes time to teach your body how to move. There will be times when your brain says to do one thing and your fingers don’t listen because you do not possess enough manual dexterity and muscle control yet. It takes time to train the brain and the body to work as one when it comes to piano.
8. Do sign up for recitals.
Recitals are a great way to motivate new piano students to practice. They also give new students the opportunity to show off their newly developed skills.
9. Do use the washroom before your piano lesson.
You have a limited amount of time with your piano teacher so it is best used sitting on a wooden piano bench instead of on a porcelain throne.
10. Don’t forget good posture.
Maintaining a good posture while playing piano will ensure that you can play for longer periods of time while minimizing injury. We touched on the legs and feet (see #3). The wrists should be loose, shoulders relaxed, no slouching, with arms bent at the elbows at around keyboard level. Elbows should be beside the ribcage without touching the ribcage.
11. Do practice counting.
Learning to play the piano is not only about playing the right notes. It is also about learning to read music. Beginners who practice counting won’t be intimidated when they encounter a piece with eighth and sixteenth notes, and different rests. Counting also teaches patience and to respect the composition.
12. Do learn to read the music. Don’t just play by ear.
This is related to #11. As a new student, you might be eager to rush through a piece, especially if you are good at identifying which notes to play. However, you will be missing out on playing as the composer intended. - Unlike American Idol where the judge exclaims, “I love how you made that song your own”, learning to perform the piece as written, is part of the learning process . As a beginner, focus on learning the basics first and building up a solid foundation. As you advance in your studies, then you can explore playing with different interpretations that still respect the spirit of the piece.
This is not a comprehensive list, as your piano teacher has more to add to the list. Use this as a starting point on your journey to learning the piano. We hope that these tips will not only assist you in achieving your piano playing goals, but will also increase your enjoyment of the instrument.