What Do You Do to Improve Your Piano Skills?

@Pigglies (9336)
United States
June 28, 2008 1:50am CST
I mostly just play piano for fun due to visual problems that prevent me from getting too serious with it. But I do always try to improve despite realizing I'm never going to get very far with piano. I try to learn songs figuring that each song I learn teaches me something. And I try to memorize harder songs that I cannot read fast enough, which is fun because it adds something that I know so that I can play something cool when people have a piano and want to hear something. I am bad about practicing scales and exercises on piano though. I don't even have an exercise booklet. I do occasionally practice scales, but to me they are so boring on piano because you just press the keys and don't have to think much, vs. the violin where you have to worry about intonation. Lately I've had a bit of extra time to practice and it has been kind of fun to get back into playing piano. So what do you do improve your skills?
3 people like this
6 responses
• United States
28 Jun 08
You won't want to hear this but those scales are the best way to improve.With scales you can train your fingers where the keys are. And don't be too sure you can't go too far on the piano just because you can't read the notes. Ray Charles , Ronnie Milsap,and Irving Berlin all couldn't read notes yet they could play piano.
1 person likes this
@Pigglies (9336)
• United States
28 Jun 08
All those guys also had a whole lot more raw talent than I ever did. I didn't read notes as a child. I could play one line melodies by ear, and that was it. My fingers know where all the keys are on a piano. I can play my scales like nothing on one because the notes are laid out in a way that totally makes sense to me. And there is no intonation to worry about. I don't look at my fingers when I play the piano, I am too busy darting my eyes back and forth between the top line and the bottom line.
2 people like this
• United States
29 Jun 08
I still think you are very talented. Not every one can play by ear. I guess what you should do is just sit yourself in front of the piano, and without any sheet music, just play.See what song or songs you can play without the music.
1 person likes this
@Pigglies (9336)
• United States
30 Jun 08
I can usually play anything I've heard, but I can't add a left hand part by ear. I do like to do that a lot though. I can do it at the computer too thanks to fun internet sites that have virtual keyboards.
2 people like this
@Agent89 (91)
• India
28 Jun 08
Well, i wouldve said practice, but it seems you are already doing it. I think problem is that you yourself believe that you cannot achieve greater heights with your skill, which i think to be wrong. Many great and respected musicians were visually impaired as well .. you just need a little more inspiration and little more confidence. Good Luck.
1 person likes this
@Pigglies (9336)
• United States
28 Jun 08
I think I also needed a little bit more raw talent at it. Piano is definitely not my talent instrument, I've had to work pretty hard at it. Melodica on the other hand (basically like right handed piano), I picked up almost instantly and no key signature throws me off on it (not that key signatures throw me off on piano either, the biggest difficulty is the whole two line thing). I do have good fast fingers though, and I definitely just need to practice to make better use of that on the piano. I type on both Qwerty and Dvorak keyboards with incredible speed, so I know that I could play fast piano pieces if I could memorize them and practice enough to be able to memorize them.
1 person likes this
• India
28 Jun 08
That is great .. Yes i do know piano is very hard instrument to play, and one thing i failed miserably trying :P As for talent .. well you do have the skill (fast fingers) .. talent usually follows when skill and practice meet. Try and practice more (feels like his own teacher) ... Do not give up on a song until you havemastered it, start wit easier pieces and move on to higher pieces .. make goals. Maybe that will help. It should, it does .. or so i was told.
@Pigglies (9336)
• United States
28 Jun 08
Yeah, I've found I have the skills to play harder pieces, just not the vision for it. But on Big Note Piano books, I can play anything they throw at me... which must mean my sight reading skills are better than I always thought. I usually try to learn one challenging piece and then keep piano fun by playing fun songs in the Big Note books.
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (61063)
• United States
28 Jun 08
Well, the second time I took piano lessons, I actually practiced. I kind of enjoyed that round of lessons where the first ones I didn't because I had to take them to get horse back riding lessons.
1 person likes this
@Pigglies (9336)
• United States
28 Jun 08
I thought about taking lessons, but I usually only take lessons to actually learn things like where the notes are, how to read the music, and then I'm good and ready to continue learning on my own. On the piano, I do better when I practice too though. Especially because the more I practice, the more I memorize bits and pieces of the songs too. And then I have some pieces that I just practiced like mad. I thought I could never learn Fur Elise one summer, and so I tried it since I loved the song. I practiced it at least 5 times a day for probably a whole year. Now, when I go to stores that have keyboards, I can just play it and not even think about where my fingers are. I cannot read notes fast enough to actually read Fur Elise though.
2 people like this
@ElicBxn (61063)
• United States
28 Jun 08
I'm not that musical. Or to put it another way, I'm a better horseback rider than I am a musician, and my form on a horse isn't that good - but I can stay on pretty well.
1 person likes this
• United States
28 Jun 08
I think just playing as much as you can will do the most to improve your skills. Also really pushing yourself to play things that are perhaps more difficult that you really feel comfortable playing, and then going over the parts/sections that really are difficult for you will help. Have fun!
@Pigglies (9336)
• United States
28 Jun 08
That is another good tip! I try to do that, sight read a piece and then keep a note of which parts are difficult and then go back to work on all the hard parts. Sometimes a song has too many difficult parts like that, but usually if I have only 5 or so things to work on, I'll still pick it as my next song. And I'll definitely pick it no matter what if it is one of my favorite songs.
1 person likes this
@rpegan (598)
• United States
28 Jun 08
Don't let a physical limitation control what you learn. I know a blind girl that learned how to sing and play the piano. It was quite amazing, but she's an inspiration.
1 person likes this
@Pigglies (9336)
• United States
28 Jun 08
I try not to, but it's hard with piano. I can barely see one line of music at once, much less two. I used to play by ear as a child, but I can't play very well by ear. So I tend to memorize one line and read the other. Which is great for playing for fun, but it would not work if I wanted to be a professional someday. Which thankfully, I never seriously aspired to.
1 person likes this
• United States
3 Dec 08
Man im 15 years old non of my parents are musicians, i just started loving music. Right now when I read all of this comments and your questions to get tips for you to play the piano better, I noticed I can do the same things as you, I CANT read notes its effing hard for me I just play piano by ear and im doing great, my biggest dream is to become a musician a famous one and that inspires me to keep on improvising with my skills, showing love to the instrument gives you the strength to really get into it and develop skills you never thought you had, you should just let your creativity flow on the piano let your fingers melt into the keys and feel the piano as a part of your body, sometimes when I really want to learn a good song but its damn hard cause theres to many sounds to understand just by ear I try to find a tutorial on internet, try finding tutorials of hard songs so you can learn them easily, when I learn a song by a tutorial after I completely master it I improve it my way so I can feel comfty playing the song at my style. The first song I learned was Fur Elise:D XD and its damn great its very piano and inspiring, but then I met a great music band that took me waaay to heaven with no stairway, effing weird huh:P? and its called Muse I really recommend you to hear them, just by hearing them they made me go in a dementia status and I learned all their songs:P, by doing that it helped me develop all my skills in a spectacular way, they have from the easiest piano to play to the nice and beautiful piano solos that if you play them youll blow the brains out of the people around you by the great mystical sound of the piano. Well cheers brother and I wish you good luck in getting better at the piano I hope this comment helps you in something:D. (Oh and english isnĀ“t my main language:P sorry if you cant understand something or if I mispelled something)
@Pigglies (9336)
• United States
5 Dec 08
I've never been able follow those tutorials. I did once spend about a year learning Fur Elise... I love that song! My next project song will be Mozart's Sonata in C K.545. I can read music enough to read it, but I can't read two lines at once so I need to memorize it. I'm interested in knowing which tutorials you like though, as so far I've had a difficult time with those and it would be fun to find a good one and be able to learn songs that way as well. You are definitely correct that playing by ear takes a long time especially if playing with both hands, not just finding the melody line.