“When I had nothing else, I had my mother and the piano. And you know what? They were all I needed.” -Alicia Keys

A report in the Premium times reveals the Nigerian music industry is poised to spike in growth significantly over the next three to five years. The revenue from recorded music in Nigerian has been projected to generate $50 million (about N18 billion naira) by 2020. This growth was captured in the ‘Nigerian Recorded Music Industry Report (2015 – 2020)’, recently published by the Disruptive Creative Economy Meeting (DCEM) group, which describes it as the first detailed industry report.

More Nigerians are on a daily basis getting more and more interested in the music which in turn is positively affecting the industry.

Learning how to play the piano can be done in many ways; at the university level, with a group, private or public music school and a private lesson with a professional pianist.

However, some of these methods might be too expensive or not convenient to pursue.

If you find out because of one reason or the other not of not being able to use any of these methods, why not tutor yourself on how to play the piano.

You will find out as you continue to read this article some useful tips for learning how to play the piano all by yourself.

What to avoid when learning how to play the piano on your own

It is paramount to get a good musical sheet from a good music store to learn the basics properly (Source: Unsplash)

Learning to read the piano sheet alone can be difficult, let alone doing it on your own. It is highly commendable if you are motivated to tutor yourself.

This motivation coupled with constant practice is fundamental with your growth process

Don't just purchase any book on Piano

Please note that the book you buy will decide will go a long way in making you a good pianist.

Thus, it is essential you own a good piano to learn how to play.

It is therefore recommended you sit in front of the piano and get a feel of the keys before going to a music store to buy a book on the recommended piano methods.

Be cautious of the free music sheet you see on the internet.

It is obvious that tutoring yourself shows a great interest you have on learning how to play the piano and definitely not about becoming a famous pianist.

It is often common that most beginners will go online to get any music sheet to learn the piano. This is great, however, free music sheets usually contain errors in their measurement, rhythm, notation and piano fingering. So there is the probability of learning something wrong that might be difficult to correct in the future.

A music score rather purchased will be edited by a qualified and professional pianist which will, therefore, ensure a quality music sheet for learning the piano.

Correctly positioning your fingers on the piano

The beginning of errors while playing the piano is the placement of the fingers.

The following are very key for the placement and positioning of your fingers on the piano:

  • The first rule of piano fingering is that the shorter fingers play the longer keys, and the longer fingers play the shorter keys.
  • The shorter fingers are the thumb and pinky, fingers 1 and 5.
  • The longer fingers are the index, middle and ring fingers, fingers 2, 3 and 4.

A common mistake be players is not respecting the correct position of fingers. This can stunt your progress and discourage you while learning how to play the piano.

Neglecting the Rhythm

You need to learn how to use the metronome as soon as you learn the first piano chords.

Rhythm is important because it keeps a song moving along, it gives motion. It can also help make a song feel slower or faster than it's an actual pulse, or create a sense of groove.

Regularly practicing on your Rhythm can minimize false notes which will eventually make you comfortable during improvisation sessions.

It is therefore advised to regularly work on rhythm even at a very slow pace after understanding the metronome.

Moving too fast

It is normal for most beginners to want to move and learn fast.

Learning new songs and playing songs on the piano requires time and consistency. Do not be in a hurry by starting with the complicated pieces first. Take baby steps and gradually move from one piece to the other.

Can I learn the Piano without a tutor?

Finger positioning on piano -Lagos
Learning how to position the finger will be much easier with the help of a qualified pianist (Source: Unsplash)

Without the help of a qualified teacher, learning how to play the piano requires a lot of work, dedication, and practice.

It is not an easy task of learning the piano alone. You must decide to be consistent and not give up. You might not have a good learning foundation without the help of a teacher.

The below points are some common mistakes that might occur while learning alone;

  • Poor Posture: Posture at the piano is one of the most important basics! Sit too low or too high, too close or too far away and you'll end up with stiff shoulders, backaches and feeling uncomfortable while playing the piano.
  • Fingering: The wrong positioning of the fingers makes it difficult to play a song at its proper tempo and changing fingers later is rather difficult.
  • Unwillingness: Not practicing regularly is a way to easily get demotivated. Once you stop practicing and then resume playing, it will be hard to pick up from where you stopped.
  • Rhythm: Metronome is important in understanding Rhythm. A lot of people learning to play the piano do not take time to learn and practice it.

Learning the piano alone without a tutor is not impossible but can be hectic because you are both a student and a teacher at the same time. You study your growth process and correct all mistakes on your own.

Struggles of being self-taught

It is bad enough that people who learn to play the piano without focusing on the theoretical part find it difficult to be versatile now just imagine what an autodidact goes through.

Where to begin

Choosing the best piano method for learning is very important. Go ahead and ask for advice from a professional pianist, music store or school.

Make sure to start by buying a music book that teaches the theoretical aspect of the piano and how to read a manuscript.

Starting with the basic from the music book will be helpful while watching piano tutorials online. If you go online, you will see plenty of piano video lessons to teach yourself. Youtube is a good example of where you can start your search.

Here are some tips to note while you start taking lessons online:

  • You should have a piano to use before searching online.
  • Learn to read the musical book and manuscripts
  • Learn to be properly positioned by the piano and also familiarize yourself with the right piano fingering
  • Carefully listen to the pianist
  • Practice, practice, and  practice should become a habit

Make sure to learn songs that suit your interest and beginner level.

Access the difficulties of the music manuscript

Learning the theoretical side of music can be somewhat difficult as a beginner.

The below guidelines can help you decide the suitable piano score as a beginner:

  • Accuracy: Pay attention to accuracy not speed. With time you can grow to that level where speed is the tune.
  • Help: You can get help from a pianist nearby or even online to help in your decision making.
  • Sharp or Flat keys: look for a piano score with less sharp keys and more flat keys.
  • Rhythm: Start Simple. Simple note values are good for beginners.
  • Interest: Make sure to choose the one you like
  • Collection: Stop piling music sheet with the hope of learning all someday. Just start small enough to understand.

How to continually move forward

Its normal to get to a point and feel stagnant. Don't beat yourself about it.

It is advisable at this point to take a lesson with a music teacher. They will teach you both theory and practical, and make the necessary corrections where possible.

A private music teacher makes the learning process easier by taking note of your growth process and to give ideas on how to make improvements in the learning process. This is a good way to learn the fundamentals.

Employing a qualified pianist who can impact knowledge is indisputably a great way to boost your motivation and commitment level.

Music sheets that are accessible to beginners

Beginner piano players Nigeria
Just picture that a piece like The Well-Tempered Clavier by Sebastian Bach can be easily understood by a learner playing the piano (Source: Unsplash)

For the purpose of growth and moving forward, it is advised you pick easy songs that suits your interest. You can also look beyond the classical tunes.

Here are some of the easily accessible piano songs for autodidact beginners learning the piano;

  • Mozart’s “A Little Night Music” 1st Movement
  • “No Woman, No Cry,” Bob Marley
  • Schubert’s “Ave Maria”
  • Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • Bach’s Prelude in C Major
  • Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca (Piano Sonata No.11)
  • A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton
  • Michael Nyman: “The Heart Asks Pleasure First”
  •  Lean On Me – Bill Whithers
  • All of me by John Legend
  • At Last – Etta James
  • What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
  • Billy Joel's “Piano Man
  • Billie Jean – Michael Jackson

Definitions for tutoring yourself the piano

Learning new vocabulary terms comes with learning and playing the piano on your own.

What does a Clef mean?

It is a symbol placed at the beginning of the staff to indicate names of lines and spaces.

What do we mean by notes?

They are symbols to represent sounds or pitches and the duration of those sounds.

What is a pitch?

It is the frequency of a note determining how high or low it sounds.

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