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How To Take Your Piano Playing To The Next Level

Dec 7, 2007
Are you ready to finally learn how to play piano despite years of lessons? If you're like many students of the piano, all your lessons and all your practicing have only gotten you so far. Maybe you've found that you've hit a wall in your piano playing ability, beyond which you just can't seem to get. The following are some helpful tips for taking your piano playing to next level.

* Learn pattern recognition: Every song ever written follows a pattern, a structure of sections and chord progressions. You need only listen to a handful of songs by The Beatles to hear what we mean. To expand your repertoire and build versatility in your ability to pick up nearly any song you hear quickly and easily, learn the patterns with which all songs are composed.

* Play by the numbers: Every song is written in a particular key - one of but 12, to be precise - and every key has it's scales, series' of notes in specific intervals, any of which will sound natural and pleasing to the ear when played in it's respective key. Every scale in every key has its 1-chord, its 2-chord, etc. Instead of straining yourself to memorize how to play various piano chords by rote, learn instead the keys that chords are played in and the scales they're built upon. Then you can quickly and easily figure out how to play any chord in any key on the spot, whether you've memorized that specific chord or not.

* Listen: This tip is about learning to play by ear. The secret to learning to play by ear is simple - just learn the aforementioned 12 musical keys. By doing so, you can easily transpose any song you hear into any key you like. Learning to transpose, then, will take you to the next level of playing piano, which is knowing how to improvise. Many piano players can read and follow piano sheet music, but far fewer can sit down and start playing along spontaneously with any song they hear - and have it sound pleasing to the ear. Of course, if you don't yet know how to read piano sheet music, then you may also want to begin studying that skill as well. But not at the expense of learning the fundamentals of music, which is not in writing but in listening. In musical terms, this is called "ear-training". Learn to recognize the sounds of harmonic and melodic intervals and you're more than halfway to playing them.

* Expose yourself: No, we're not suggesting you run naked down the street. What we're suggesting is that you spend time surrounded by musicians of exceptional quality, professionals and amateurs alike in whose presence you can hear what it sounds like to play how you want to play. The body's muscles have memory far superior to than our brain's conscious recall ability. By simply immersing yourself in an environment where your ear is exposed to the sort of piano playing you aspire to, your body has a far easier time reproducing those sounds on the piano yourself.

Most importantly in your piano playing adventure is to remember to give it a little attention every day. You don't have to practice for hours and hours a day to get good at the piano. You need only devote a small amount of time daily to keep the skills you're learning present in your mind and body. Even just 15 minutes a day keeps your piano playing ability in tune.
About the Author
Yoke Wong is the founder of PlayPianoTips.com, a leading piano instructional company that helps piano players improve on their playing through home study DVD courses. http://www.yokewong.net
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