“Life is like a piano; the white keys represent happiness and the black show sadness. But as you go through life's journey, remember that the black keys also create music.” - Ehssan

According to a Canadian study, music can reduce stress in both people who like music and people who don’t. Playing music is a great way to improve your quality of life. However, it can be tricky learning how to play the piano if you're looking for beginner piano lessons and don't know where to start.

Why not get private piano tutorials?

In this article, we're going to look at the different ways you can learn to play the piano with private tuition and what you should expect during private tutorials.

Get an Appraisal from your Piano Tutor

A lot of people nowadays want to learn to play the piano. It’s a creative activity that can help improve your coordination as well as train your ear. It's also a lot of fun!

How do you work out your piano level?
You should evaluate your tutor, your level in music theory, and your piano ability. (Source: TeroVesalainen)

Whether you learn piano, guitar, drums, saxophone, flute, or harmonica, learning to play an instrument isn’t free. That said, there are free piano lessons available on websites like YouTube but these aren't the best way to learn to play piano.

Fortunately for budding pianists, there are plenty of different types of pianos for different budgets (grand pianos, upright pianos, synthesisers and keyboards, electronic pianos, etc.). Keyboard start at £100 whereas some of the most expensive grand pianos run into the tens of thousands!

Once you’ve got your instrument, how can you get started with private piano lessons?

Private tutorials come with a lot of advantages, including having a dedicated teacher. The student will get lessons that are tailored to them. The piano teacher will know exactly what works and what doesn’t for their student. The classes are geared towards helping one student to progress so the teacher doesn't need to divide their attention across several students.

This is why your very first lesson may be the most important. You need to talk to your tutor about what you’re going to work on (music theory, arpeggios, reading sheet music, coordinating your right hand and your left hand, etc.).

Your first lesson will involve getting to know one another as well as evaluating your level. If you’ve never touched a piano in your life, your tutor will probably give you some exercises that’ll help improve your dexterity, coordination, and your ear.

It’s important to get started on the right foot (or hand). The student should be sure to mention anything they’re struggling with so that their tutor can focus on it.

The first minutes of your private piano tutorials will probably be administrative and cover what you’re going to focus on throughout your lessons.

Revising and Studying Piano Technique

The second part of piano tutorials consists of revising what you’ve seen in previous lessons in order to ensure that you haven’t forgotten it. Your piano tutor will probably ask you to repeat an exercise from a previous lesson.

How do you play the piano with both hands?
Start with one hand before you move onto coordinating the two of them at the same time. (Source: Iguanat)

You’ll be expected to practise between your lessons as this is hugely important. After all, by regularly practising, piano playing will become second nature to you.

Piano technique can include:

  • Reading piano music
  • Recognising piano notes
  • Coordinating both hands
  • Learning chords
  • Playing scales
  • Etc.

Once you’ve mastered a number of piano techniques, you’ll be able to play almost any piece with ease. When you’ve learnt the exercises from the previous lesson, you can move onto new exercises. Make sure to get the most out of your tutor while they’re still there.

Once the lesson is over, you won’t have your tutor there to correct you. It’s therefore important to ensure that you listen to them when you make a mistake. After all, we learn from our mistakes.

Your piano tutor will show you how to position your hands, the right posture to adopt, and whether you’re playing in time, etc. You’ll repeat these exercises once you’ve learnt them.

Most of your time during your piano lessons will be spent memorising new techniques and skills. Once you’ve done this, you’ve done most of the work.

Learning to Play Songs on the Piano

Once you’ve learnt a given piano technique, your tutor can help you put the theory into practice by playing a certain piece. This is when the student can learn to play songs that they like.

Which are the best Beatles songs for the piano?
There's nothing better than learning with your favourite songs. (Source: skeeze)

Learning a song on the piano is a chance to use the piano techniques you’ve learnt while also revising everything you’ve seen up to that point. By choosing a song you like, you’ll be motivated to keep practising it.

The songs chosen by teachers at conservatoires and music schools can sometimes result in students giving up. This won't happen with your favourite tunes!

Here are a few good songs for the piano to get you started:

  • Imagine by John Lennon
  • Beethoven’s Fur Elise
  • Comptine d’un autre été l’après midi by Yann Tiersen
  • Someone Like You by Adele
  • Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
  • Je te promets by Johnny Hallyday

These songs are also worth checking out:

  • Life on Mars by David Bowie
  • La groupie du pianiste by Michel Berger
  • Mistral gagnant by Renaud
  • Lucie by Pascal Obispo
  • Qui à le droit by Patrick Bruel
  • Ne me quitte pas by Jacques Brel
  • Là-bas by Jean-Jacques Goldman

After all, the goal is to enjoy yourself while you play the piano.

Your tutor will probably organise sheet music into difficulty for you.

Furthermore, most music teachers can re-transcribe certain pieces to make them easier for beginners to play. Thus some songs that seemed complicated can be played by novices.

Whether you like jazz, rock, blues, or whatever, any song can be simplified to be played by students so that they can enjoy playing the piano without demotivating themselves.

Each Tutor Has their Own Piano Tutorial

While the foundations of a piano lesson are usually the same, private tutorials will have unique elements specific to the tutor themselves. This means that it’s impossible to say with any certainty exactly what a piano tutorial will entail.

Where can you find piano tutors?
Just like each student, each piano tutor is different. (Source: b1-foto)

To make sure that a tutor’s teaching style works for you, you should either benefit from a taster session or ask them.

Some private tutors mightn’t be able to answer this question directly as they tailor each tutorial to each student as they learn and grow as a pianist.

With that in mind, you should probably look for tutors you get along with and will enjoy playing piano with. Both your personalities will play a huge role in how you learn and how the lesson goes.

Some students need a variety of different exercises to remain motivated whereas others prefer to focus on one particular task. Furthermore, you can learn the piano at any age and piano tutorials aren’t specifically for children, adolescents, or adults. Musical tastes can also vary wildly (chamber music, jazz, rock, etc.).

The work of a tutor in a music lesson is to adapt their approach to the student. In fact, you can sit down with a private piano instructor and design your own piano course. If you want to focus on how to read music or sight reading, ear training, improvisation, or classical or jazz piano, you can talk to your private music teacher before you start and decide on what you want them to teach you.

Learning piano (in private piano tutorials, traditional piano lessons, or music classes) is not the same as preparing for an audition at a prestigious music school. Furthermore, a piano lesson can cover a huge variety of different topics (music history, music training, music theory, reading sheet music, etc.).

Learning music theory and how to play piano is different for everyone. The most important thing is to get piano lessons that you enjoy with a tutor whose approaches work for you.

Over the course of lessons, your needs might change. You might start playing just for fun and then decide that you want to take your playing further. With private tutorials, you can talk to your tutor and change your lessons to better suit your goals. If your tutor can't do this, then you can always start working with a different tutor. However, definitely ask your tutor about this before kicking them to the kerb for a new one!

If you do this, you could become as good as Chopin, Mozart, Bach, Liszt, Beethoven, or Offenbach.

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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.