I taught myself the basics of playing the piano when I was seven years old without a single piano lesson, just by ear.
But if you want to reach a certain level, you need a lot of commitment, which I personally didn’t do, but I’ve friends who did. However, if you want to become a professional pianist, you’ll probably seek out a piano teacher at some point, at least to learn techniques you might never have thought of.
Piano Is One of the Easiest Instruments to Learn
The piano is one of the easiest instruments to teach yourself because it has a clear visual guide (the keyboard) and it’s intuitive.
Resources to Access
You can learn piano online by using resources like YouTube videos and websites to learn sheet music.
Start by figuring out what notes are represented on the instrument, memorizing their sound, and then work your way up to simple songs before moving on to more complex pieces.
The Magic of Music Theory
Music theory is the “secret handshake” of music. It’s a set of rules that explain how music works. The best part is that you don’t have to know the theory to enjoy music; the rules are so intuitive that even kids can understand them. But if you want to make your own music, you can figure out how to make it sound good by thinking about what you’re doing and why.
To understand the musical relationships between notes, chords, scales, keys, progressions, and everything in between, it’s important to know how music works (i.e., having some level of theoretical background knowledge could help).
Decisions and Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start Giving Yourself Piano Lessons
The Choice Between a Classical Piano and a Digital Piano
Deciding between a classical piano and a digital piano isn’t as easy as it looks. You’ve to consider many things before you decide to buy. Do you want to learn music or are you looking for some entertainment? Either way, you need to invest in a good instrument.
When it comes to choosing a musical instrument, there are pros and cons to both.
A classical piano is the real deal. It’s a more realistic sound than a digital keyboard. It’s also more complex to learn.
Both instruments can be very expensive and require a lot of maintenance.
If you’re serious about learning to play the piano, it’s probably best to choose an acoustic piano. Because of the way an acoustic piano is built, it’s much easier for you as a beginner to learn the proper hand position and weight distribution for each note when using an acoustic piano than a digital piano.
However, if you don’t plan on becoming a concert pianist in the future and are looking for something portable and less expensive, a digital keyboard is also good to learn.
Do You Have the Motivation?
So you’re thinking about learning to play the piano. The first question you should ask yourself is:
- Do you feel ready to give whatever it takes to make music as a self-taught pianist, or would you be better off with a piano teacher?
- Learning piano on your own is a big commitment, especially if you’re investing a lot of money in a digital piano or a classical piano. You also need to realize that self-teaching takes more time because you need to find the right resources, and a lot of YouTube self-teaching piano videos won’t get you very far unless you’re very disciplined.
Do You Have a Specific Goal in Mind?
Learning an instrument is a lot like learning a language: it takes time and practice. The difference between learning piano and practicing is that when we learn something new, we discover new concepts: what they’re called and how they work together.
Practicing means turning these things into habits; habits that become automatic actions that come easily to us without us having to think about them.
Once we learn the piano chords and understand how the white and black keys work, it seems super easy, but once we know all the basic melodies, the hard work really begins.
We all know someone who’s been playing an instrument for decades, but quit before they managed to become very good at it. There are a number of reasons for this: Maybe they didn’t have the confidence, or their music teacher didn’t guide them in the way that would have been best for them, or they were forced to do it by their parents, which led to them giving up due to pressure from their parents, or they were just never passionate enough to put in the time and effort.
Either way, if you know your motivation to become a self-taught pianist (or learn with a music teacher), you can figure out how you learn best and what level you’re ready to reach.
What Does It Take to Be a Self-Taught Pianist?
Being a self-taught musician can be challenging, but it will definitely make you grow as an artist and a person. Before you decide to become a self-taught musician, you should think about your goals, the reasons why you want to learn music, and how much time you can dedicate to becoming a good musician.
Do you want to learn it as a hobby, impress your friends, or become like Elton John or Jimi Hendrix?
To have a chance of succeeding in learning any musical instrument, you need to have the following:
A Deep Love of Music
You must love music more than anything else in life if you want to master it without formal training. If your heart isn’t in it 100%, learning a musical instrument will feel more like torture than pleasure.
An unquenchable thirst for musical knowledge. If you’re naturally curious and always looking for ways to improve your musical skills, that’s great! If not, then there’s probably no point in attempting this endeavor.
A High Level of Self-Motivation
Getting motivated by others won’t work if you’re teaching yourself; only if someone helps you can this kind of motivation be sustained over time (and even then, only sometimes!).
Mastering the Piano Takes Time and Dedication
Playing the piano is one of the most beautiful and rewarding instruments you can learn. It prepares you to successfully learn other instruments such as guitar, violin, flute, drums, and others. You can teach yourself, but it takes years of dedication to master it.
The Piano Isn’t the Easiest Instrument to Play at a High Level
Although the piano keys are arranged in a simple, repetitive pattern, don’t fool yourself into thinking that playing the piano is easy! You’ll have your hands full playing both hands at the same time in different patterns (one hand might play up while the other plays down), playing octaves and chords all at once!
Be aware that learning to play the piano requires a lot of work and dedication from you as a piano student. To learn something new, you must practice every day until you master a skill or concept.
The piano is different from many other instruments in that you must use both hands at the same time, which can be difficult for some students who’re used to using only one hand or finger at a time (for example, typing). You’ll also need to practice patience, as it will take months or even years before you’re able to play anything from a classical piece to Jazz music that’s even remotely recognizable to anyone but yourself.
How to Teach Yourself to Play the Piano
There are many ways to learn to play a musical instrument for adult learners. Of course, if you start from scratch, you’ll have to invest a lot of time and practice. In other words, it won’t be easy. But it will be worth it!
The first step is to find the method of self-instruction that works best for you. There are plenty of videos on YouTube and articles on the internet that make all sorts of hair-brained promises, but without a good teacher or mentor to guide you along the way, it can get confusing or discouraging.
Instead of spending hours sifting through video after video (and most likely getting caught up in some sort of cat video spiral), it may be better to invest your energy in private lessons with a real person – even if it’s just for one session (or more if necessary).
Lessons with a good teacher lay the foundation for what comes next: self-study using online courses and exercises. Believe me when I say that there’s no substitute for having someone by your side to guide you through the process step by step.
Learn Your Chords
Learn the most common chords. There’s an infinite variety of chords, but a few common chord types are used so often that it pays to learn them first. Each key on the keyboard has its own name and note number, which you can use to find it on the keyboard. You will need to learn the difference between the right-hand notes and the left-hand notes.
Master at Least One Genre of Music
What does it mean to be a master? In music, it means understanding the historical contexts that produced the music you love, being able to play it at will, and knowing how to use it to create new songs. It means knowing what a song feels like as it takes shape from idea to performance. In short, you master your instrument and your love for music is even greater because of it.
To become a master, you’ve to be committed; it doesn’t happen overnight. To become a concert pianist master, you must practice deliberately and consistently until playing the piano feels like second nature to you. This may take years, but the rewards are worth the wait!
Learn a Classical Music Piece
Many rock stars have learned how to play classical music on the piano.
Maybe it’s not your thing, but classical music can teach us a lot of fundamentals and techniques that can be useful in your journey to learn the piano. Even if you’re not taking online piano lessons or learning with a piano teacher, you should consider learning at least one classical piece. It will be useful in your piano learning process.
Play a Song That You Like
Search YouTube for piano tutorials that teach you songs you like. When you find an instructional, listen to the song and follow the video as it plays. If you don’t know the song well, you can always stop and play the parts you’re having trouble with again until your fingers know where to go.
If you find a part of the song too difficult, skip it for now so your fingers can become familiar with other parts of the piece before coming back to it later. Remember, it’s supposed to be fun!
Exercise a Little Every Day
Practicing a little every day is better than a long session once a week. It’s more fun to play for ten minutes every day than to sit at the piano for two hours, and you’ll learn faster if you practice more often.
Make it a habit to practice your basic exercises every day until they become second nature to you.
If you make this routine a habit, you’ll be able to make very good progress on your own. Beginners who take structured lessons progress quickly because they’ve clear goals, but it’s also possible to achieve the same results by practicing regularly without formal lessons.
Learning to play the piano takes hard work, but it’s fun and satisfying to learn something new!
That’s the good part, right?
There are literally thousands of resources on the internet to help you learn the piano. One excellent, free resource is the Hoffman Academy YouTube channel. There are videos there for kids and adults, from beginner to advanced, and it’s a great place to start learning the basics of piano playing.
Another great resource for learning about music theory (the really nerdy stuff) is Hook Theory. This site also offers lessons for beginners to advanced musicians and provides some tools to help you create your own music!
There are many other resources on the internet, so have fun exploring! And remember, practice makes perfect (or at least gets better!).
The Challenges of Teaching Yourself
It all depends on the student. If you’re completely new to piano, it’s probably not a good idea to teach yourself. While you don’t need a degree in music theory or years of experience in school orchestras to teach yourself to play the piano, you do need a lot of patience and the ability to practice very consistently and be disciplined about your goals.
If you’re a piano student beginner, it’s best to start with scales and chords and progress from there. For technical training, you can turn to books or online courses, but most students find it easier to start with private lessons with a music teacher who knows exactly what to expect next.
Some People Just Have a Musical Ear
Some people just have a musical ear – and if that’s you, you can give yourself piano lessons. (Others shouldn’t be discouraged – it just means they’ve to learn differently).
Can Be More Time Consuming
The self-learning method is more time-consuming than formal lessons, but it requires less structure and discipline.
You need to be able to teach yourself the basics like scales, chords, and music theory. But then you also need to learn how to apply that knowledge through practice and hard work (because nothing compares to a 1:1 teacher-student relationship).
Basic things like posture, fingering, and hand position are important elements of good piano playing that everyone needs to know. If you don’t get these elements right from the beginning, they’ll cause problems later on when learning new pieces or skills.
Making Music Is Good for Your Mental Health
Music has been found to be excellent for mental health. Making music improves the executive functions of the brain, which include planning, problem-solving, and attention.
It Improves Brain Connectivity and Even Reduces Stress
Music can alleviate depression and boost the immune system. It’s been shown to improve speech in stroke patients and children on the autistic spectrum. Music is a form of communication (one study even suggests that babies can understand music before they learn language). And making music can also improve memory-especially memory for the information you learned while listening to or playing music!
Build a Musical Career
The other important thing you can do is find a teacher. Music theory is something that just comes with the territory when you’re learning an instrument. You don’t need formal training in it, but it’s very helpful to have someone to guide you and help you understand what you’re playing.
It can also be helpful to find a good teacher or at least a mentor who can teach and help you navigate in the music world, otherwise, they may not be able to teach you the things that interest you.
Many people teach themselves music or at least teach themselves the basics before taking lessons. The most important thing to teaching yourself an instrument is motivation and dedication.
You need to set aside a lot of time to practice and make sure your practice sessions are productive and focused on improving your skills rather than just playing for pleasure. If you practice regularly, study music theory, and listen to a lot of music from different genres, I think it’s possible for anyone with enough dedication and motivation to become a good pianist without lessons!
Self Taught Musician Examples
So you want to be a pianist. Maybe you’ve always wanted to play, but for some reason couldn’t take your first lesson. Or maybe you’re one of those people who love to learn things on their own, without the help of an expert. Luckily, there are many great self-taught musicians out there who can inspire and encourage you along the way! Some of them may seem unexpected – and others are so famous that it’s hard to believe they taught themselves everything. But each of them spent hours poring over music books, practicing scales, and learning songs on their own – just like you’re doing now!
- Elton John
- Jimi Hendrix
- Dave Grohl
- Keith Moon
- Kurt Cobain
Can You Play the Piano and Other Instruments?
You can if you take the time for it, put in the effort, and dedicate yourself to the instruments.
Once you learned one instrument, it’s usually easier to learn a second one.
Dedication is the key to learning anything!
The Advantage of Being a Self Taught Musician
Self-taught musicians are often more creative than those who’ve had formal lessons or have been taught by their parents since childhood. They’re also less likely to get stuck in traditional ways of doing things because they were never trained otherwise. Hard work and dedication are the keys to learning any instrument!