Learning The Piano in 20 Steps

Teach yourself piano in 20 steps! (Eh? Can you really do that? )

Learning the piano, with or without a piano teacher, is a process that can be accomplished in any number of ways.

Learning the piano step by step.

However, in order to get the most results as early as possible and not learning things in an awkward way, nor having to relearn any aspect (horror!) for all of us that want fast results ...

... here is a plan on what steps you may take when you want to start learning the piano from scratch.

The Process

Any kind of learning process could be seen as a spiral; you will learn a certain amount of things on a basic level that will be repeated again and again as you progress on more advanced levels.

Step by step.

The below steps could be seen as a first swirl around that spiral…!

With that said, I am not trying to present a one-solution-to-all progress; because that would be impossible.

Even though core elements in the process are the same in many ways of teaching and learning the piano, something that works for one person simply does not mean that it would work for another. 

So, here is just one way of looking at a step by step plan for learning the piano.

Spend as much time as you need on each step and make sure to master each before moving to the next.

And do enjoy yourself!

20 Steps to Learning the Piano

  1. Immerse yourself in music. Listen, sing, watch others play. Do this daily. Acquaint yourself with the piano and all its parts and sounds. Learn about the strings, soundboard, pedals, and lid… all there is. Toy around and test everything! 
  2. Begin without note reading. Learn easy, simple improvisation and playing by ear. Use the pedal. Explore. Don’t be afraid, test drive your instrument; it is hard to break!
  3. Learn how your body works and how to use it when playing. Learn about proper posture, hand position, weight balance and how to relax.
  4. Learn the names of the piano keys and your finger numbers.
  5. Pick a simple piece of music, with only a few notes and learn it by ear. 
  6. Observe how a melody moves; up and down in steps, skips and repeats. Learn to read a simple piece of music with notes in the same way. Practice to really listen to everything you play. Do this daily. 
  7. Play five finger patterns all over the keyboard, and in many different keys. Use a lot of black keys! First without notes to learn the geography of the keyboard, and then with notes using “landmark notes” to find your way.
  8. Learn to identify and play simple harmonic and melodic intervals from unison to a fifth. Learn the difference between a half step and a whole step. This will help you with note reading a lot!
  9. Practice to play loud (forte) and soft (piano) and anything in between.
  10. Learn to play staccato and legato.
  11. Master playing pieces with simple melodies where the hands take turn to play. (Not simultaneously yet).
  12. Continue with simple pieces that use both hands at the same time. Always practice hands separately first.
  13. Learn about basic chords and how to play them in root position.
  14. Learn to play a C major scale in one octave first in each hand separately, and then in contrary motion. Do the same with the A minor (natural) scale.
  15. Play simple pieces with C major scales and chords.
  16. Identify and play intervals unison to an octave, melodic and harmonic.
  17. Continue to learn all major and minor scales with the same fingering in one octave by ear, hands separately. Learn about the changes in harmonic and melodic minor.
  18. Practice playing chords with only white keys: Also learn to play chord inversions. Play pieces using chords, blocked and broken. Make sure to use the correct fingering.
  19. Learn simple pedal technique: How to use and change the pedal smoothly.
  20. Take time to learn basic music theory.

Repeat this process with more advanced materials!

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