Wise words a beginner often hears from an expert of any field is about finding the right teacher. The road taken by first-timers is not easy; it can be seen as a path full of challenges that will thwart their progress and a hundred other things that may demotivate them.
Having a teacher that would guide you and be there with you during the process is ideal. But then, lessons or appointments can cost a lot of cash.
We could not ignore the fact that some instruments are harder to learn than others. Instruments such as violin, oboe, or french horns are typically found on the top list of hardest musical instruments to play. These skill-demanding instruments need assistance from a professional in order to learn, because without one you’d probably give up.
Some, however, are hard but manageable, such as guitars, ukuleles, and piano. The fundamentals of playing these instruments are not as complicated as the ones previously mentioned, in such a way that you can learn how to play them on your own.
Yes, that is true. In fact, did you know that some music legends, such as the likes of Prince and Elton John, are totally self-taught?
So, how can I learn piano for free? Instruction books are good, but if you want to enjoy more interactive learning, you might want to check out free lessons through websites and apps.
Learning to Play the Piano on Your Own
Once in our life, we’ve always wanted to become that type of performer; the one who sits on a piano stool and plays one chord after the other smooth as spreading butter on a knife.
We all know how elegant and smooth the fingers of a pianist are as they move across the black and white keys. Reaching this level of performance is a result of dedication and discipline.
Some say that getting into this level needs a mastery of the basics which you can only achieve with the help of a teacher. However, not all have the privilege of getting a piano teacher because of the cost, inflexible time schedule, and only wanting to play piano for recreational purposes. Hence, they resort to another feasible yet still effective option—learning to play the piano all by themselves.
Learning piano on your own is not a bad idea; in fact, it’s the better and wiser option for those who only intend to play it casually. If you want to pursue it as a career, you may learn on your own in the beginning, but it is highly recommended to seek an expert on the latter part of your journey as it will get more challenging.
Studying solo is constituted by reading learning materials on the web, listening to audio guides, and watching tutorial videos. Choose whatever tea you prefer, however, the unstructuredness of this DIY method might overwhelm you with chunks of ungrouped content that will eventually result in frustration, and eventually, demotivation.
But worry not, because there are websites and apps that will guide you through at your own pace.
Learning Through Piano Websites
A usual practice of fresh pianists is watching a YouTube video tutorial of how to play a particular song. This habit should be corrected because instead of learning how to play piano, you will just know how to imitate a song by pressing specific keys in a timed manner (and you probably know what app we’re referring to), which shies away from the main purpose of lessons which is understanding the fundamentals by heart.
But, to lessen this scenario, there are websites that specialize in teaching the basics of piano theory which are very helpful if you are a beginner and need a guide to follow. Here are two very popular free piano websites (yes, you read that right; these are completely free!) that you might find your fingers interested in:
PianoNanny provides starter, intermediate, and advanced studies that focus on theory, reading sheet music, and techniques. When you reach the advanced level, you will proceed with learning improvisation and chording. One downside of PianoNanny is the lack of application of the concepts learned. In fact, you are not forced to play the piano not until Lesson 8! However, if you want your comprehension regarding theory to be stellar, PianoNanny is the website to go.
Zebra Keys offers free piano lessons for preparation, beginners, intermediate, and advanced pianists. Each level focuses on several topics such as how to play certain songs, chords, music theory, and if you want to spice it up, even improvisation and technique!
All their lessons are purely text-based but are supplemented with animations which you might find helpful if you’re a spatial and visual learner. Unlike PianoNanny, it provides free music sheets for its beginner and advanced courses.
Zebra Keys offers ear-training and note-naming exercises, and you can check your progress to see how much you’ve improved. Despite offering an intensive amount of material, their lessons, however, are surface-level, which might be the main reason why this website proclaims that it is more intended for younger age groups.
If you like having more in-depth information about piano theory, PianoNanny might suit you better!
Learning Through Piano Apps
If you prefer a more interactive way to learn piano rather than reading blocks of texts and listening to someone, piano apps might be the one for you. Though they are not exactly free, they offer free trials (others are even generous with their free features!) so you have the chance to test the app if it will suit you before you decide to commit. Here they are:
This app contains all the things you need to know about playing the piano. It provides you with musical pieces to play, and it can check your performance either through an external microphone or by connecting your device to a MIDI cable. After installing the app, you get to choose what level of proficiency you identify yourself with, and everything will go smoothly until you achieve that goal you set.
Free trial for 7 days, then it is $119.99 per year, $89.99 for six months, or $59.99 for three months.
Designed for beginners who are serious about learning to play the piano, Skoove shows a real pianist playing the actual notes which could give the new pianists a glimpse of proper hand placements and timing. At the completion of a series of lessons, Skoove gives you the option to jam with a band. They don’t just toss you into it, though. They begin by performing the song. Then you put it into practice. After that, you join the band. This straightforward progression prevents the unpleasant surprise of having to adapt to playing a tune at full speed all of a sudden. It provides a solid course that will appeal to aspiring online pianists.
Free trial for 7 days, then it is $9.99 per month for the 12-month package, while the 3-month package costs $13.33 per month.
Yousician specializes in teaching music tutorials for songs. Akin to other apps, they ask you initially your level of proficiency. They also have a program called Handouts that tests and improves on aspects that you might need to work on.
Free trial for 7 days, then it is $9.99 per month for the 12-month package
If you’re already familiar with playing the piano and are only looking for apps that can help you hone your skills in actual practice, check out OnlinePianist. You get to choose what song you want to play, and you can decide how to play it, whether it be with the left hand, right hand, or both. You can also alter the tempo!
Free trial for 7 days, then it is $4.99 per month for the 12-month package, $6.99 per month for the 6-month package, and $9.99 per month quarterly.
Teaching Yourself Piano
You don’t need to spend loads of cash in getting a high-caliber piano to start learning how to play one. With a piano, or even a small keyboard you can begin learning the basics! It doesn’t have to be brand new (but if you’re interested in buying one, consider checking Alesis Melody 61 MKII). Before you start teaching yourself how to play, keep these essential pointers in mind:
1. Getting to Know the Instrument
Of course, after selecting what piano you want to play with, you must first familiarize yourself with it. If it’s new, it is very likely that it comes with a book. Know the names of the keys, and the function of the pedals if it does have one (or two, or three…). Also, check if it is in tune (in case of acoustic piano).
2. Arms, Hands, and Fingers Positioning
The first step in learning to play the piano is to make sure your arms and hands are in the correct position. This is the “C Position,” which is the natural cupped shape they take when hung by your side. It’s good to maintain proper hand and finger placement for smoother play.
3. Learning the Notes (Including the Flats, Sharps and Their Timing)
As mentioned earlier, know your notes. All of your future dealings with the piano will be based upon it, so it is best if you devote a session learning it. With tons of practice, all of these notes will just be embedded in your mind and will flow naturally.
4. Proper Finger Placement Practice
You should always observe and pay attention to how you place your fingers when playing notes. You can check out exercises and warmups that will improve your muscle memory.
Of course, the cherry on top is practice. You need to practice religiously and consistently. Set personal goals that you want to reach by the end of the session. If you feel like your practices are showing no signs of improvement, spice things up, by trying new exercises or playing the piano to your friends or families; it will surely boost your confidence.
Tips, tutorials, lessons, everything are laid out at hands length on the internet. You get to decide what information you want to feed on, and websites and apps are there to supplement you. Always set a personal goal so you don’t stay stagnant. Keep on practicing, because practice produces output. And who knows, you might be the next Elton John or Yiruma in the making!
Joyce Ann graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies at New Era University. She especially enjoyed her journalism class and was nominated for Photojournalist of the Year. Joyce Anne loves music; she is a self-taught piano player. When she's not writing (or baking or watching documentaries), she's probably playing songs on the piano, mostly by ear.