There are many things to keep in mind when you’re learning to play the piano. It can sometimes feel overwhelming when you start to think about it. There are no shortcuts to becoming a great piano player. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to succeed.
However, there are a few very common mistakes that many pianists have learned to avoid. It might seem like minor problems, but it’s small improvements like these that will really help beginners to reach their full potential.
Here is a list of the top 8 mistakes. How many are you guilty of?
1. Lazy Hand Positions and Posture
You might find your piano teacher annoying when he tells you to sit up straight and curve your hands, but there is no denying the importance of doing this.
When you play with flat or collapsed fingers, you slow down your finger technique and it will cause tension. But what does your body posture have to do with your fingers? Well, we already know that everything in our bodies is connected. Otherwise, we would look like jelly-beings walking around.
All of our movements are initiated from our core. So when you don’t sit properly, your body has to compensate for the wrong muscles that are being used. In other words, you are using muscles that you aren’t supposed to use. Thus, your body posture influences your hand positions.
Having the proper body posture and hand positions help you to practice more effectively, as well as avoiding muscle injuries in your fingers and shoulders.
2. Sitting Too Close To the Piano
When you sit too close to your piano, you limit your play range. Your arms need enough space to be able to extend in front of you, increasing your range of motion and reducing the tension in your wrists.
In fact, good piano playing is only possible if you sit comfortably. Therefore, it’s important for you to adjust your piano bench for the best height and distance before every practice session.
The best height to play at is when your elbows/upper arms fall freely from the shoulders and allow the forearms to be parallel with the floor, all while maintaining your forearms and hands in their natural shape – the way they are when your hands are hanging at your side.
When you determine the distance you need to sit from your piano, keep in mind you need to sit on the front half of your bench to allow your torso to move freely.
The best distance for you will be when your elbows are allowed to rest slightly in front of your center line, while keeping your hands in a neutral position on the piano and your hands in front of your elbows.
3. Not Using a Metronome
Practicing without a metronome or counting out loud can be frustrating, but it’s incredibly important in the development of your sense of rhythm.
Linking the sound of the metronome or your voice with your hands will help you to master the coordination of your two hands. If you practice without it, you risk learning incorrect rhythms which can be very difficult to unlearn.
4. Skipping On Technique
Scales and arpeggios are like the syllables and words of playing the piano. It forms the foundation of all music ever written. So how do you expect to talk the language of music if you don’t know the “words”?
Scales are the notes of the keys in order, and each scale has a proper finger position which allows you to play the scales in the easiest way possible.
Practicing your scales and arpeggios establishes your hand positions, fingering, and sight reading skills. By skipping this, you will only limit your playing skills and development.
5. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
The road to becoming a successful piano player isn’t an easy one. Practice every day and working hard are the keys to your success. Make sure your piano is set up where you see it on a daily basis as a reminder to practice. Not to mention the beauty that it will add to the room.
Even on the best of days we struggle to find the time to practice, but it’s extremely important to allocate a certain time for practicing. If you stick to your schedule, it will become a part of your daily routine.
A regular and consistent practice routine is, without a doubt, the best way to learn!
6. Not Doing Revision
Many students prefer to play the pieces they are familiar with. Whereas, other students prefer to quickly move from the one piece to the other. So what is the best way? Which option is the best learning avenue? In this case, balance is the key word.
IIt’s best to try something new every lesson while refreshing your memory by revising some of your older pieces at least once a week. This gives you the opportunity to work on your repertoire and show off your skills.
Remember, as much fun as it is to only play through songs that you’re good at, you also need to complete your lessons and learn new pieces.
7. Practicing for Long Sessions
Studies have shown that your brain is less active when you do the same thing over and over, or when you do it for a longer period of time. After a while, you tend to get bored and pay less attention. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad student. It means our brains aren’t wired to learn that way.
The longer your practice session, the more you need to take regular breaks. Doing a little as often as you can will improve the effectiveness of your lesson or practice session. Shorter sessions and regular breaks will help you return to your practice session with a fresh perspective.
This is why many musicians also make use of interleaved practice and there are several things you can do to make practice fun.
8. Forgetting To Have Fun
We all share one thing: the love of music. Music is a universal concept. Listening and making music brings joy. That is the main purpose why we do it.
Even though it’s an amazing feeling to be able to play the piano, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the theory and different techniques while getting frustrated during your practice sessions. In times like these, make a list of why you love playing the piano, or go back to that song that inspired you to start playing.
Constantly remind yourself of why you are doing this and take the time to experiment with different sounds during your practice sessions. Music is life, so never give up on your passion.
About the Author: Julie Adams
I am a mom, a music lover and teacher from Tampa, FL. After completing a Bachelor of Music in Performance Arts, I traveled for several years before returning home where I started offering private piano and singing lessons as extra income. I met my husband in 2009 and 2 years later moved to Dallas where we settled down and I started focusing on vocal training to aspiring singers and performance artists of all age groups. I still enjoy playing the piano very much, and in my spare time you will catch doing some horse riding, drawing, doing some light reading, or just spending quality time with my family.