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The Top 8 Piano Myths Busted!

Last Updated: September 11, 2021 / by Julie Adams

Knowing how to play the piano is an amazing skill that adds more than just music to your life. But it’s easy to get discouraged when someone informs you that you’re too old, or your fingers are too short.

For so long these piano myths have convinced our society that they must be true. Otherwise, why would they still exist, right? Not true. It’s time we bust these myths and unleash the facts!  Read on to learn about the top 8 myths in learning to play piano and make sure you don't fall into the trap of believing them!  Getting beyond all of these worries will surely make you a better player.

Myth #1

You’re too old / kids learn faster

Are you worried that your dreams of playing the piano are down the drain because you’re too old? Well, think again! You're never too old to start playing the piano! 

There is a misconception that a child’s brain is more receptive to learning new things. But the truth is that children are just less troubled by the concerns of life and have less mental clutter to distract them. The lack of mental clutter creates the illusion that a child absorbs more information. 

So what does an adult have that a child doesn’t? Desire. The desire to learn gives you the focus that is needed for learning.

Any person, young or old,  who wants to learn can do it. If you have the desire and realistic expectations, nothing can stop you from reaching your goal. 

Myth #2 

You have the wrong fingers

The idea that you need to look a certain way to be able to play a sport or an instrument couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many people that have beaten this stereotype by adjusting their playing style. Just because your fingers are shorter, doesn’t mean you can’t play the piano either.

In fact, if there were an ideal preference for how your fingers should look like, it would be tapered fingers. This way, the thick and muscular part at the bottom of your fingers will allow you to press the piano keys with the needed strength. Whereas, the thinner tips will help you to play more easily between the black keys.

Many people with long fingers have mentioned that they actually make more mistakes because it feels as if their fingers get tangled. In addition, there are many hand exercises that you can do to improve your finger technique and playing skills. 

Myth #3

Long practice sessions are the best

Numerous studies have shown that your brain can only learn effectively in 15-minute increments. Anything longer than that can be to your own disadvantage. Your brain activity becomes less as you continue to do the same thing over and over. For this reason, many musicians consider interleaved practice much more effective. 

If you have an extra 10 minutes in your day, use it to practice. It may feel like that you don’t really achieve anything, but you will reap the benefits in the long-term. 

Even if you find yourself  sitting in front of the piano for longer periods of time,  divide your practice session into shorter 15-minute  increments. With each increment,  you can practice something different, or different parts of a song. 

Myth #4 

Always start with your lesson with finger drills

Dividing your lessons into smaller sessions will once again show the most improvement of your skills. The compilation of these shorter sessions will depend on the way you learn the best. There are several exercises that will help you with finger placement, but it still doesn’t mean you have to start your lessons with it.

It’s often best to start your lesson with the most difficult activity at your level of playing, and then alternate between easier sessions, like practicing part of a song. There are also several things you can do to prevent getting bored

Myth #5 

Always learn from the start to end

The problem with always starting at the beginning is that it often tempts beginners to keep returning to the there when they become frustrated.

Many players return to the part they're familiar and avoid pushing forward with the rest of the song. 

The most efficient way of learning will always be to start with the difficult parts of the song first, while your brain is still fresh and receptive to learning new things. That way you will have smoother results sooner.

With time you will learn and understand what your ideal learning avenue is and you will be able to follow what works best for you. 

Myth #6 

You need both hands for practice

By keeping your basic skills polished, you’re setting yourself up for success. Any exercise that helps you master the piano also the helps you maintain quality.

Practice each hand separately to memorize your hand movements and to focus on working with different nuances. And just like any art form, there is always room for improvement in the continuous cycle of learning.  

Don't neglect practice for each hand separately. 

Myth #7

You shouldn’t look at your hands while playing

This is one of the biggest and most common misconceptions. 

Watching your hands and fingers during your practice session helps you visually associate the positions of the piano keys with the notes they represent.  This can be to the advantage of any piano player’s improvement, especially a beginner’s.

The only time looking at your hand can be considered as useful is when the student wants to enhance his sight-reading later in the learning process. 

Myth #8

You will disappoint your teacher if you make mistakes

Any good teacher knows that making mistakes sets you on the path of learning and growing. It may feel like the world ended when you made a mistake, but your teacher probably didn’t  even bat an eyelid.

You must never forget that your teacher was once in your position before becoming the skilled piano player that he is today. Being able to make mistakes shows that you’re willing to learn. Besides, as long as you can learn from them, it’s worthwhile! 

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.

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