By Ugo Onwutalu
“I wish I could play the Piano!“
hear that statement all the time at past events, gigs and concerts I’ve played
at. I have to admit, I’m always surprised when I hear such a comment, because
it’s quite possible to gain pleasure from learning, playing and entertaining
others with the right dedication and directed effort.
could, is that they’ve tried it – maybe only once – and they didn’t get
any results. I suspect this applies to a lot of aspiring musicians.
want to achieve. Is it to play songs or pop tunes? Perform with others? Take
exams and gain certificates for your own records?
you want and it is a MUST for you.
most important thing you will ever do as a beginner. Practicing because you
have to (not want to) and just going through the motions will not get you
anywhere. This approach nearly always leads to boredom, frustration and
eventually giving up. What a shame that would be.
concerto at Carnegie/Royal Albert Hall or a duet with Rihanna at the Grammys,
you also need to honestly ask if you have what it takes to achieve your goal.
Often many people will say something along the lines of: “I want to play
Madonna’s/The Beatles/Britney Spear’s greatest hits in my first year!” thinking
it’s easy to replicate what the professionals do on TV. A more realistic aim
might be to complete a series exercise books up to a certain level, e.g. ‘to
get to book 4 in 10 months’. Family members and friends will be able to
honestly tell you if you have any musicality, but it also helps to speak to
musicians, whoever they may be and find out from them, what it takes to
succeed, based on your own strengths and weaknesses.
achieve your goal
Once you’ve settled on a realistic goal, you need
to think how long it will take for you to achieve and what exactly it will
take. Write the deadline down, have it in front of you when you practice and
remind yourself exactly what you must do to
achieve your goal. Also, having someone you are accountable to, who can monitor
your progress to keep you from losing focus, is vital. can
monitor your progress to keep you from losing focus, is vital.
The point of a schedule is to get into a routine and build momentum. Constantly
changing your practice time means you’re at the mercy of other things that
might be distracting.
5. Focus on a few
Things at a Time.
Don’t try to
learn everything all at once – it just won’t work. Break your practice down
into easy to do-steps. It is better to focus on one or two areas, working on it
repeatedly and becoming a master than to try and learn 10 different new things
and only develop sketchy knowledge at best. When you start out on the piano,
the way you will improve rapidly is to concentrate completely for every minute
you set aside for practice and focus on improving those few things. This could
be part of a piece, a new chord, a scale or anything you choose. Seeing this
progress gives you a sense of achievement and will keep you motivated,
energised and going through the session and the next.
6. Work on improving
your memory, posture and energy levels
That’s right! Your brain is the other important tool
other than your hands. You can make great progress by simply practicing
memorisation exercises that will help you remember. Also, piano playing is
generally quite sedentary and it’s not the best thing to sit perfectly still if
you are practicing for an hour, for example. The way you carry yourself at the
piano should always be upright or in a way which isn’t slouched, stooping, laid
back or otherwise passive. Your physiology also affects how you think, feel and
therefore work, so you should aim to keep your energy high by sitting up
straight, flexing your arms & upper body now and again, and even
standing up after an intense practice session. Also try not to frown when you
encounter difficulties, as that subconsciously builds frustration.
7. Don’t get put off
This is a big one and can be disheartening for many if
their approach to problem solving is not right. Please, don’t worry about
making mistakes. If you’re just beginning, think long and hard about some of
the great performers of any instrument. Think about how much effort they put
into what you thought ‘looked easy’ when they performed on TV or live. If all
they (or we for that matter) did was worry about making mistakes, they would
never have achieved progress and thus, greatness in their chosen instrument.
The rest of us also learning would live in constant fear!
When you are learning a new piece of music for example,
if you were to know in advance that you where going to make 34 mistakes before
you could play the piece perfectly, would you worry about making these
mistakes? Of course not! I am guessing you would want to get these 34 mistakes
out of the way quickly as possible. What this means is each mistake you make
brings you closer to your goal. You progress by learning from mistakes, so
expect them and be ready to deal with them. As long as your ear can recognise
when you have made mistakes, you can correct them and move on.
Commit to doing these 7 things regularly and you’ll find
learning the piano/keyboard more enjoyable.