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How to Play Piano: A Beginner's Guide To Piano Lessons

Updated: May 9

If you have been considering learning the piano, you probably need an idea of where to start. Should you self-teach, use an app, or get piano lessons? Like everything, learning from another person who is experienced and has made many mistakes along the way to get the knowledge they have is the best way to go. So how do you get started learning the piano and taking piano lessons?

A red grand piano graphic surrounded by colorful balloons
How to Learn Piano

What are piano lessons?

Piano lessons are educational guidance from an experienced teacher who helps you discover your musical goals, develop your plan for achieving these goals, and learn the best ways to practise so you can achieve these goals. For example, your goal may be to play Beethoven's Für Elise. To achieve this, your teacher may recommend a method book, some exercises, and start you on a simplified version of the piece. Some students don't have a goal when they start out but discover music they really want to play as they progress. Everyone's journey is different!

Why are piano lessons important?

Piano lessons are important because having teacher allows you to discover and achieve your goals using effective methods. For example, let's say you wanted to build a chair. Would having guidance from a carpenter be useful? Do you think the chair would last longer and be more beautiful if you were guided by someone who had built many chairs? Having a piano teacher allows you to learn from someone who has spent many hours learning and playing music that you want to learn, and this removes uncertainty helping you move forward with confidence.

Who can learn piano?

Learning piano is a creative pursuit of discovery that is open for everyone. Adults, children, toddlers, seniors, and students with challenges including ADHD all benefit from piano lessons. This is because learning the piano is about overcoming challenges and gaining the means to express yourself, no matter your background. Toddlers benefit from piano lessons by learning coordination and creative skills that develop over their lifetime. Children benefit from learning piano as a means of channelling their creative energies with focus. Adults benefit from piano lessons since they have the means and take responsibility for their own learning. Seniors benefit from piano lessons since they have the time to dedicate to cultivating their passion for music. Special needs students epitomize learning piano since they learn to overcome challenges and create something beautiful.

The best time to start learning piano is now!

What do piano lessons cost?

The cost of piano lessons varies, and the main thing is to find a teacher that works for you. Sometimes this means finding the highest-qualified teacher you can, and sometimes this means finding a teacher who specialises in what you are looking for. For example, a highly-qualified and experienced teacher may be excellent with toddlers, whereas a less experienced teacher may be ideal for seniors - but there is no hard and fast rule, it really depends on what works best for you.

Do I need to own a piano to learn?

Technically you don't need to own a piano to learn, but it is highly recommended that you have or get one. If you already have a piano in your home, this is a great thing. If you need to get a piano, you may want to invest in a keyboard with weighted keys which feels like a piano. Until you get a piano, we'd suggest practicing on a table. This is a great way to hear the sounds in your head and to translate them into movement on your fingers. Every learner benefits from this method - so starting without piano can actually be an advantage!

What are online piano lessons?

Online piano lessons are piano lessons in your home. The main advantage of online piano lessons is that they allow you to have a wider choice of piano teachers and reduce your travel time and cost. New learners sometimes think that online piano lessons are lower quality than in-person lessons, but this is a misconception. Assessment results between online and in-person students are similar if not the same in most cases. To take online lessons, we'd recommend using a laptop that is placed beside the piano - showing the keys and your face for optimal setup.

How many piano lessons should I take per week?

We'd recommend taking one piano lesson per week. CanKnowPiano™ offers 45 piano lessons per year to account for holidays, and this works out at around 4 lessons per month. This regularity is essential for good progress. If you don't have access to your piano for a few weeks, this presents an opportunity to have an online lesson without your piano to discuss how to address your goals and challenges. Your teacher becomes a mentor who will offer solutions to help you overcome challenges and reach your goals.

How long should piano lessons be?

Piano lessons range from 30 to 60 minutes. CanKnowPiano™ offers lessons in 30, 45, and 60-minute slots. We'd recommend starting with as much time as you can since this offers greater opportunity for you to work through your music with your teacher, boosting your progress and confidence. The time flies in piano lessons no matter how much time you have!

'Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music' - Sergi Rachmaninov

When to stop taking piano lessons?

The pianist and composer Sergi Rachmaninov once said 'Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music'! We'd recommend you stop piano lessons when you feel you are no longer progressing with your teacher. It is uncommon that students stop for this reason since there is so much to explore, discover, and learn with music. The students that make the most progress are those who play little and often over many years. Learning the piano takes time, a desire to seek and overcome creative challenges, and a love for music. Here is Rachmaninov putting this into action. Turn the sound up, close your eyes, and enjoy!

Sergi Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor, Op. 18.


A headshot of Rory Dowse
Rory Dowse

Rory Dowse is a Content Developer for CanKnowPiano™ and a contributor and former trustee for the European Piano Teacher's Association, Piano Journal, and Piano Professional Magazine. He is a self-professed lover of all things piano, and can often be found playing Gershwin, eating ice-cream with his kids, and optimizing SEO.

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