The Ultimate Guide to Playing Piano

The Ultimate Guide to Playing Piano

Want to be a better pianist?

Want to start playing piano?

How about learning more advanced approaches to technique, musicality, and practicing?

I can help you with these things, and more.

For a visually two-toned instrument, the piano can be a very colourful and complex instrument.

I present to you, the Ultimate Guide to Playing Piano, overflowing with valuable resources for playing piano.

Feel free to share this with a friend.

Enjoy!

Table of Contents

Intro

The Power of Piano
How to Read Sheet Music
Reading Piano Keys
Good Posture for Piano
Music Theory Guides – Beginner to Advanced

Piano Technique

How Can I Express Myself in Piano?
Why is Sight Reading Important?
How to Memorize Music Flawlessly

Performing

Preparing to Perform Piano
How to Combat Stagefright

Piano Videos

Piano Lesson Videos
Piano Tutorial Videos (No note reading)

Other

What’s the Deal with Improvising?
Ear Training Exercises

Pianos

All About Pianos
How to Buy a Piano
Piano Maintenance Guides
How to Inispect a Piano
Piano Resources

The Power of Piano

Music Makes Us Happy
Yes, there is scientific evidence to back up this claim. Citing various studies, Tara Gaertner explains how music students are less stressed out, have boosted immune systems, and more.

Music Training and Executive Function
Executive function– mainly the working memory,  inhibition (i.e. self-control), and cognitive flexibility (includes rule-switching)– is improved with music. Tara Gaertner explains why music improves executive function in her article.

Music Boosts Memory in Alzheimer’s
A study suggests that music may help Alzheimer’s patients retain new memories. Can we find a cure to Alzheimer’s in music?

Music & Memory: The iPod Project
Music for Memory, a non-profit organization giving free iPods to seniors with Alzheimers, demonstrates the power of music in this video.

How to Read Music

How to Learn Notes Easily
Note reading isn’t as hard as you think; learn the mnemonics and you’ll be able to read any note on the grand staff.

Quick Guide to Accidentals
Accidentals explained; what are sharps, flats, and naturals– and why should you care anyways?

Dynamics 101
Dynamics defined in a simple, easy-to-understand chart.

How to Read Music Note Values / How to Read Rests in Music
Music note values and rests explained in simple charts showing you what’s what.

Common Music Symbols and Terms for Playing the Piano
A free printable cheatsheet for reference, useful for beginners.

Basics of Reading Music
A great semi-compact guide to reading music with lots of visuals, words, and sounds.

Which Key Corresponds to Which Note?

Easy Tricks for Learning Keys
Everyone learns to read the piano keys differently; I share an easy trick for reading keys that not a lot of people use.

Music Theory Guides

Music Theory
Highly recommended for any music student. Seriously. The lessons are highly visual and easy to understand, ranging from basics (e.g. rhythm, notes) to more advanced material (e.g. Neapolitan chords). There are also different exercises to test your theory knowledge.

Music Theory for Dummies Cheatsheet
This handy cheatsheet is definitely useful to have on hand. It includes note names (for Canada/US and UK), extending note values, simple and compound time, intervals, and chord progressions.

Music History Notes
An ever-expanding compilation of history notes on composers and pieces. Great for exams and studying.

Intervals: The Complete Guide
The complete guide to intervals: what they are, what you need to know about them, and a list of the intervals from tonic to leading note. I also tell you what each interval sounds like, i.e. if it’s part of a classic song or tune.

eMusic Theory
Interactive theory practice drills, including intervals, scales, and chords.

Tonal Theory Examples
An extensive database of examples illustrating music theory concepts visually and aurally, through existing pieces.

What’s ‘Good Posture’ for Playing Piano?

Perfect Piano-Playing Hand Posture
Why bother with posture? It help your fingers gain dexterity and stop cramping. This ‘For Dummies’ article explains the perfect hand posture for playing piano.

The Piano Posture and the Energy of Sound
Ilinca Vartic illustrates the flow of energy into your sound through the right posture. Is your sound the best that it can be?

How Can I Express Myself in Piano?

The Essentials of Bringing Expression to Your Piano Playing
Bring your own expression into the music to really play piano. These articles help you get started on expressing yourself through music.

Performance Hints and Techniques in Piano Playing and the Music of Chopin
Great lecture notes from Dr. Richard Rowling about piano technique and expression. A must-read for Chopin enthusiasts.

Piano Lessons

Learn different skills progressively as you’re guided along.

Learn How to Play Piano
Furmanczyk teaches you how to play piano from scratch, in 40 free videos. He teaches the fundamentals progressively and throws in a bit of theory here and there. This series really prepares you to move on with your piano journey!

Zebra Keys
Free online lessons with lots of images, videos, and aural cues. Great for people who prefer to learn by seeing and hearing rather than reading.

Piano Lessons Online
These videos teach you the fundamentals of piano with a small section dedicated to playing jazz. Each video focuses on an individual skill, so that you can pick which skills you want to learn. There are also videos dedicated to the entire range of scales, blues scales, and modes.

Printable Piano Lesson Book
This is a series of four piano lesson books designed to help you get started on piano. Each book targets specific techniques, and uses different keys and meters so you can learn progressively. And, it’s free to print.

Piano Tutorials

*No note reading involved at all.

You Can Play It
Learn specific pieces by watching the colours (which represent each note played) on the keyboard graphic in the videos. They show you slowly, then in sections. Categories include Classical, Christmas, folk, and ‘nerdy’…

Youtube’s Piano Teacher
In this series of piano lesson videos, Joe Raciti teaches by individual chords and narrates throughout the process. You have a view of the keys so you know what he’s playing. He teaches songs from popular artists like Beyoncé and Katy Perry.

Class Piano
Same concept as the above piano tutorials, except you see the actual note names (and in some videos, the notes on the staff) above the keyboard animation on the bottom of the screen. Songs you can learn include pop songs and original compositions by Regan Star.

Online Pianist
You can set your own speed, see the note names run as you play them, set letter names on the keys, and even transpose the piece so you can learn it in a different key if you want. The range of categories is so wide that you can learn anything from r&b to folk and Classical.

Piano Tuts
No-nonsense, straight forward piano keys flashing colours while the music is playing to show you which notes to play. Tutorials tend to teach popular video game and anime themes.

Why Should I Warm Up?

My Warm Up Routine
Why is warm up important? For 15 years, David Hahn endured the consequences (and a great deal of pain) from not warming up. Now he does, and he shares his routine with you.

Cold Hands, Slippery Fingers, and Injury
A thorough article on solving common pianist problems and a few suggestions for warming up cold hands.

Warm Ups and Exercises

The Ultimate Warm Up Secret: Surprisingly Simple
I reveal the most logical, no-brainer step to warming up that most pianists ignore.

Piano Pilates
A quick pilates-inspired warm up for warm hands and soft arms.

Finger Technique for Scales
Brandy Kraemer explains the correct fingering for different types of scales.

Warming Up: 31 Days to Better Practice
Chris Foley shares different warm ups to vary your routine.

Warming Up on an Unfamiliar Piano
Which are the must-do exercises on an unfamilar piano? Albert Franz a couple of warm ups… and words of wisdom for playing on a bad piano: “The worse the piano, the better we must play!”

How Can I Become a Successful Pianist?

One Simple Secret for Accomplishing Anything
Conquer any task, no matter how difficult, with this simple secret. Some people swear by it. It’s not magic either.

Flow
Tara Gaertner expands on the topic above, flow. She breaks down the idea of flow and relates it back to practicing music.

How Do I Practice Piano Efficiently?

5 Secrets for Efficient Practice
Who else wants to use their time efficiently for piano? I share five easy, not-so-obvious secrets for practicing piano efficiently.

Deliberate Practice and the Role of Attention
Why aren’t you getting any better? If you’re playing ‘just for fun‘, then Tara Gaertner will tell you why.

Piano Practicing Principles and Methods
Brent Hugh presents you with lots of different ideas about practicing piano. Take a look, because it’s worth reading. Lots of text, but lots of useful information.

Efficient Piano Practice: 10 Expert Tips
A quick post by Albert Franz on practicing piano efficiently.

Principles of Efficient Practicing
A list of great ideas from Jenny Boster to help you make the most out of your practicing time.

Piano Technique and Practicing

Performance Hints and Techniques in Piano Playing and the Music of Chopin
Great lecture notes from Dr. Richard Rowling about piano technique. A must-read for Chopin enthusiasts.

Piano Exercises
Albert Frantz discusses piano exercises for finger dexterity and technique, emphasizing that technique and musicality is insperable.

Technique: Fundamentals of Piano Practice
A free, comprehensive online textbook for piano. The first chapter deals with technique; posture, exercises, everything!

Fluent Finger Technique and The Anatomy of the Hand
What’s really going on inside your hand? Michael Furstner explains the action and how you can use your hand correctly, complete with photos and diagrams.

Principles of Piano Technique
This article, by Alan Belkin, touches on technicality, musicality, and performing (briefly). It’s intended for an ‘intermediate pianist’ with a repertoire, but don’t let it put you off. It’s also translated into a couple of different languages.

3 Uncommon Tips for Practicing
Steve Nixon shares his own approach to maintaining his technique as a jazz pianist.

Addicted to Practicing
Practice makes perfect– Erika Snipes shares two mantras that got her addicted to practicing. Super effective, take it from me.

Why is Sight Reading Important?

Why Sightreading is Important
Why all this fuss over sight reading? Here’s why. There are tons more reasons, but these will probably convince you.

Sight Reading Tips

Quick Tips for Accurate Sight Reading
A complete guide to sight reading– what to do before, during, and after you sight read in any situation (e.g. in an exam). And, what’s sight reading anyways?

Why Isn’t My Sight Reading Improving?
Do you suffer from this common sight reading problem? I answer a common sight reading problem, sent in by a reader.

Practice Sight Reading
Create rhythm practice segments based on the time signature and level you pick, great because you get a new rhythm practice every time. To turn the rhythm into melodies, you’ll need to purchase a deluxe account.

How to Sight Read
Fergus Black shares tips from The Science and Psychology of Music Performance (Lehmann and Victoria McArthur, Oxford UP 2002) and gives solutions to some common sight reading problems.

Sight Reading– A Trying Time for Teacher and Pupil
Paul Richardson gets to the root of the sight reading problem and offers solutions for each of the five common problems for sight reading.

How to Memorize Music Flawlessly

3 Easy Steps to Memorize Music
A three step guide to memorizing any piece you want, painlessly.

6 Surefire Ways to Memorize Anything
Memorize music with these six surefire methods.

 30 + 1 Ways to Help You Memorize Music Flawlessly
Great tips from Chris Foley for memorizing music, for both singers and pianists.

Tips on How to Memorize Music
Robert Kelley writes about three possible ways you can approach memorizing a piece.

How Do I Memorize Music?

Piano Piece Memorization
You have a visual, aural and tactile memory for piano music; Albert Franz breaks up the memorization process and briefly explains each of them.

Types of Memorization
A quick and friendly post by Bonnie Jack on the four main types of memorization you should be using for anything to be completely solid in your memory.

Preparing to Perform Piano

Preparing Your Hands for a Piano Performance
Brandy Kraemer explains the Dos and Don’ts for conditioning your hands to maintain your ability as a pianist.

What to Eat and Drink Before a Piano Recital
You are what you eat (and drink)– prepare for your performance in more ways than one, away from the piano.

How to Combat Stagefright

Don’t Choke: 5 Tips for Performing Under Pressure
Five of University of Chicago psychologist Sian Beilock’s best tips on performing under pressure or stress. They’re not intended for performing piano specifically, but they definitely apply to performing piano.

Fear, Opening Night Jitters
Tara Gaertner explains why you get stagefright and how she combats her own stagefright.

What’s ‘Improvising’ on the Piano?

Jennifer Lin Improvs Magic
This girl is amazing. Age 14 at the time, she talks about her creative process using flow (what is flow?) and improvises an entire piece based on five cards chosen by an audience member.

How to Improvise Creatively

Awakening Our Creativity: Mastering the Art of Piano Improvisation
What’s the limit to creativity? There is none! Ilinca Vartic gives tips on improvising creatively. (How do you improvise anyways?)

14 Tips for Successful Piano Improvisation
While Edward Weiss wrote these tips for New Age pianists and musicians, they apply to any type of improvisation. This goes to show how versatile and connected every genre in the world of music is.

Practicing Creativity: Free Improvisation
Free improvisation really brings out you in your music. Try it out, because there should be a time when you’re alone in music.

Ear Training Exercises

Get Perfect Pitch: 7 Must-Do Exercises
Yes, you can train yourself towards perfect pitch. Start with these exercises and you’ll be well on your way.

Ear Training Exercises
Create your own ear training exercise (or use the default) for identifying scales, intervals, or chords; you can save and share it with an automatically generated URL. The exercises are highly customizable to suit your level– you can even choose the instrument that plays your exercise.

Online Ear Training
A set of online ear training exercises to improve pitch. The exercises range in type and difficulty; you can choose different levels within each exercise. Definitely try it out.

Ear Training Radio
This online radio streams ear training exercises 24/7, and you tune in anytime you want. You’ll hear piano notes and narration. Best of all, it’s free.

All About Pianos

7 Crazy Things You Don’t Know About Your Piano
Kent Moore shares seven interestingly little-known facts about your piano. Who knew that the piano corresponds to our modern Gregorian calendar?

Finding the Right Spot for Your Piano
Where you put your piano is perhaps as important as what piano you have; it can affect the piano’s sound, quality, and even durability. Choose the right spot for your piano!

How to Buy a Piano

How to Shop for an Electric Keyboard
What does an electric keyboard really need? Are you paying more for something you don’t need? Kraemer explains what to look for in an electric keyboard, like touch sensitivity (which is often omitted even nowadays).

How to Buy a Piano
What should you do when you’re shopping for a piano? The complete how-to guide for Dummies.

Piano Maintenance Guides

Piano Maintenance Guide
A great set of instructions on how to maintain and repair your piano, complete with step-by-step photos.

Piano Care & Maintenance
How should you be caring for and maintaining your piano? This series of articles explains the best ways to do so.

How to Inspect a Piano

How Much is My Piano Worth?
A guide to valuing used pianos; Brandy Kraemer explains what details to look for on the piano that help you determine how much it’s worth. Factors include: condition of your piano, manufacturer, manufacturing date, and more.

How to Inspect a Used Piano: Interior Damage
What can go wrong inside a piano? It might look fine on the outside, but once you open it up…

How to Inspect a Used Piano: Exterior Damage
The signs of exterior damage on a piano explained, step by step.

How to Tune a Piano

Tuning Your Piano: Fundamentals of Piano Practice
Alright, tuning your own piano isn’t a must-know for most pianists, but you can definitely read up on tuning pianos.

Tuning Tricks
Kent Moore shares little tricks he uses to make tuning pianos much easier. Definitely useful if you want to try tuning your own piano.

Piano Resources

64 Smashing Resources for Musicians Like You
From business tools to legal resources, composing help and more, we’ve got you covered here.

Pianist’s Injuries: Why Many Pianists Do Not Recover
Are you at risk of permanent injury? In this article, Thomas Mark writes about movement retraining, and how it can help you prevent permanent injury.

Piano Lesson Myths
Classic piano lesson myths busted by Howard Richman, a pianist and music teacher– the truth might surprise you in a few cases.

Works Like Magic: Be Inspired and Motivated in 3 Seconds
Some days you’re just not up to it. This post brings you up!

Guidelines for Choosing a Teacher in Safety and Confidence
Great tips to ensure that piano lessons go as smoothly as possible with a given teacher and possible questions you should ask prospective teachers.

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  • Inartmedia.com Blogs April 13, 2012 at 11:52 am

    […] haven’t even begun to check out all the links yet, but just check out this treasure trove of piano playing-related links over at the Artiden blog! This looks like a fabulous collection for any piano teacher, piano […]