Adults often come to the point in their lives when they want to explore new hobbies. One of the most common hobbies adults pursue is learning to play the piano. It may be the first time they play or a return to a childhood pleasure. Whether you’re an adult sitting down to learn the instrument for the first time or you want to brush up on your skills, keep in mind some basic rules of piano practice.
Posture is very important. Make sure that the piano bench is high enough. Your shoulders should hang freely, while your forearms are parallel to the floor. This allows the greatest freedom of movement and keeps your body from feeling constricted. While your hands are directly in front of you on the keyboard, your elbows should be just slightly forward of the center of your body. Sit forward on the bench so that your body is relaxed.
Create a regular piano practice schedule. Start with short sessions of 15 minutes. Increase the time as your skill progresses and your hands start to feel more limber. You may not have time for piano practices longer than half an hour, but that’s enough to increase your skill and flexibility. Just try not to miss too many days in a row. Time of day is important. Pick a time when you’ll be least distracted by the worries of life.
Practice books are extremely helpful for both beginners and experienced players. These contain exercises and tips that improve your technique. Many also teach musical theory, providing detailed explanations of scales, chords, modes and relative tonality. This is great for expanding your musical palette and understanding how melodies and harmonies work in the context of a piece.
Piano practice books also contain musical pieces adjusted to your skill level. At the end of each chapter you’ll often find a piece that demonstrates techniques that you learned in the preceding pages. It may take a while to coordinate both of your hands, so don’t expect to play at full speed right away. Practice each hand separately, at a moderate speed, before combining the two parts. You’ll be less discouraged and find that your playing is more accurate.
Remember, piano practice isn’t a competition. Even if you are a highly driven individual, take your time and be patient when learning the piano. You’ll avoid frustration and possible injury if you avoid pushing yourself too hard. It’s supposed to be enjoyable.
A metronome is an invaluable tool for piano practice. A metronome is a device that keeps perfect time, providing an audible beat set to an exacting tempo. Metronomes are adjustable from very slow to very fast, well within the limits of pieces you’ll be practicing. Even if you feel that you have a great sense of timing, invest in this handy little tool for your piano practice sessions. You’ll be amazed how often you change tempos slightly while running through exercises.
Whatever amount of time and dedication you are able to invest in the piano, it’s a great instrument for adults to learn. The piano is a few hundred years old, and people are still exploring its musical possibilities. Join their ranks and make music that you’ll love for the rest of your life.
Duane Shinn is the author of a free newsletter on piano chords & chord progressions available at Piano Practice