Learning how to play the piano changed depending on the era. Methods for learning too. Attitudes are changing, as are techniques.
In this article, we will analyze the new ways of learning the piano, how they differentiate with the “traditional” and “classical” piano lessons, and especially if they are effective. That is to say if they bring a plus for the progress of the pupil.
Personally, I have never used internet tutorials. In spite of my young age, I always stuck to the old school methods.
I play the piano with great pleasure, as it was played in the nineteenth century. I learned the piano with teachers over 55 years old. And I could see the effectiveness of their method. So I apply the same with my students today. This is why we are going to look at these other ways of learning, more or less fun, without the stress of the auditions of the end of the year… Should we say yes, or no thank you to the new technologies in the matter?
N.B. This does not exempt you from going to music theory classes to learn to read music notes and to decipher tablatures. This ability will also be required for all other instruments: clarinet, oboe, classical guitar, saxophone, trumpet, harmonica, organ, violin, recorder, accordion, double bass, flute, English horn, harpsichord or whatever else…
B flat, treble clef, bass clef, octave: these notions and this vocabulary to memorize must no longer be the secret for the seasoned pianist who has learned to play the piano! To help you, online music lessons are not rare, and you will find more than one musicians to tell you he learned the solfeggio this way!
Listening to music is in itself excellent for the brain and neurons. It’s great to be at the your battling best! The history of music naturally offers us the example of Mozart, a little genius who learned rhythm from his cradle thanks to his father Leopold.
There is no better than classical music to develop qualities and potentials, but also personality by forging the character!
Playing the piano will help you practice your memory
Another aspect, unfortunately less prized in our time, is that the musical discipline teaches each individual to work hard, to correct himself, to do his best. It is a daily ascetic that allows to successfully test the symphony…
And how can we ignore the positive effects of the piano-forte on human memory, especially by learning by heart the pieces that we prefer?
In any case, it is clear that the internet is a music school in its own right, having more than one piano lesson to give to anyone who takes the trouble to look into the matter with the will to master this amusing instrument.
You will find what you need to have a progressive approach, with sometimes even games to learn! The world of digital piano is ideal – leave the dull and complicated world!
It’s your turn!
A tutorial, or piano tutorial, is a video often followed by an article explaining a specific subject. The video details each stage of the learning, until the end. All in five to ten minutes maximum.
Tutorials are different to what we call e-learning sites, run by teachers who offer real structured courses online, and sometimes, as a complement, face-to-face meetings.
The tutorials are accessible mainly on platforms such as YouTube or Dailymotion, and they are increasingly shared on major social networks: Twitter, or Facebook, hosting pages and groups in several languages where the members share these piano tutorials.
That is precisely the complexity of the approach to this kind of “piano lesson”. Everyone is capable of making tutorials. Good or bad! And it isn’t always easy to make the difference, and mostly, to make a choice!
From the confirmed pianist to the most banal of the anonymous, one can find anything and everything on these platforms, for better or for worse. Don’t relly on the number of views, someone can be good at marketing but a bad piano teacher, or worse a bad pianist.
So the important thing is to be able to differentiate between good and bad tutorials. And, to do so we have a couple tricks for you.
There are many reasons for making tutorials. And we will not bury our faces in the ground. Very few are actually interested in teaching, not as a professor can be.
Vendor tutorials – such as “the best way to learn the piano” – should be banned.
For most people, posting a tutorial on YouTube is an opportunity to showcase a talent, make a name. True ambition can also be spotted to become a musician or singer, the dream of many teenagers in the 21st century.
A number of artists have used the Internet to make their voices heard. Grégoire (Boissenot of his true patronymic), for example. But also Justin Bieber (who would have believed!).
Youtube tutorials to learn how to play the piano
But you need to be aware that the ultimate aim is to make large amounts of views or likes, and generate subscription, loyalty. Because on these platforms, after 1,000 subscribers, you receive payment. That’s the least of all when you know all the ads that advertisers display!
The educational approach is therefore dotted. And, in any case, one can very well understand that desire is not necessarily to teach, but just to show oneself.
This is not a bad thing in itself: one can do very well, even if his aim is averted. But it means not everything up on the web is good material.
A tutorial, as I said, is an audiovisual document. The benefits of the piano (in this form) is that the image is attached to the sound. The tutos are mainly used to dissect a piece. I therefore advise obviously to use the tutorials once you have succeeded in acquiring a certain level in the practice of the piano. Once you have this level, using a tutorial means you avoid having to buy the scores, and it also makes it easier to understand a song in case you have difficulties with a piece.
In a good piano tutorial, one finds all the explanations necessary to playing a piano piece. All chords are dissected, with video footage showing the pianist playing.
And, at the end, the piece is finished and complete. It can therefore be summarized as follows: explanation – piece dissected chord by chord – finished piece.
Here is an example of a YouTube tutorial to play a Stromae song. This is the king of tutorial that isn’t good because it does not give you an overview of the song, and does not show you proper hand placement:
The author of the tutorials give you tricks, supposed to promote learning, making it more practical, and faster.
As I began to explain above, from my point of view there are specific times when you can use an Internet tutorial.
I think it’s best to use it when you have a good enough level. A beginner pianist will not progress using a tutorial during his learning phase of the instrument.
Before using these tools, it is better to stay in a “traditional” and “conventional” education, and to acquire all the means to then use a tutorial: with a private teacher or in a music school.
Once you got the basics, and you want to have fun, these Internet videos can find their place in your musical life.
From my point of view, the tutorials are used in addition to the learning you get with a teacher.
Making these videos a substitute for a teacher is not the right method for learning the piano. They are used in addition to any teaching done by a professional teacher. This way you can progress fast and efficiently.
The reason is simple: these videos do not give any work method. They invite mimicry, which allows the person to reproduce what he sees, but not everything can be seen!
Find inspiration for new songs with piano tutorials
It is therefore much better to use the Internet and these techniques simply in addition, and preferably before starting a piece.
So the student can use the classic technique, added to it to progress faster. And the two combined together can make the student progress, no doubt possible.
If you take the trouble to browse through YouTube or Dailymotion, you will see that there are dozens of different tutorials for each known piece of music. So choosing your video is very important, for fast and efficient results.
You will find a good tutorial according to several elements.
The quality of the image and the sound at first: if the video is badly framed, of poor quality, or improperly edited, it is better not to take it into account.
Then you have to look at the piano used in the video, if the quality of sound is good, if the notes sound just.
It is also better to see if the person explaining the approach in the video is correctly expressed, and whether his explanations are relevant and useful.
Beware: the number of views of the video is not necessarily a guarantee of quality. It is also better to check that the song is played correctly at the end of the video.
Selecting a tutorial on the Internet
In general, a good tutorial lasts between 10 to 15 minutes. Above that it’s no longer effective, and below that, you can be sure that it will be incomplete.
One thing is certain, it is not a bad one.
Watching several videos for the same piece can allow the student to become familiar with one technique rather than another, with the corresponding tone of the piece, and also to be more receptive to the person explaining it.
In this respect, the relationship between the musician recorded on the video and the pupil is somewhat similar to the classical pupil-teacher relationship. The student must have confidence, and a “close” relationship must be created between the two.
It is, moreover, on these points that you can make the differences between the youtubers who master their subject, and those who grope, who then lose their credibility.
It is necessary to do an important and precise research before choosing the video or videos that will serve as examples. If the student has the chance to take real courses with a private teacher, this work can be done with the teacher, in order to be guided effectively.
For the student, these videos can serve as supports in order to advance a little faster, but they should not replace his piano lessons. It is a balance to be found. But since the new technologies exist and enable us to grasp all this knowledge, then why not use it? Basically, just as any other tool, online tutorials require from you a learning process.
Difficult to say, so vast if the offer! It would be humanly impossible to gauge all the existing tutorials on all the platforms of the whole world…
But we have nevertheless done for you a small selection, if only to give you some ideas or tracks to explore.
To begin with the fundamentals, the great beginners will be able to practice with the first exercises of familiarization:
Often, as soon as you start tapping a bit, you don’t want to get bored and wish to go straight for full songs worthy of the name. And right you are!
Some pieces, not surprisingly, are very practiced, because of a movie’s great success or a melody universally appreciated… Who has never tried to find the first notes of the famous composition of Ludwig von Beethoven für Elise?
Chopin playing the piano, statue in Paris, France
To get off the beaten track while accessing a quality music education that helps you progress, one can be interested in contemporary songs and various musical forms.
It is by opening up to new horizons and juggling from one kind of music to the other that one will feel the least a feeling of weariness.
On this side, some YouTube channels are very interesting!
These are hundreds and hundreds of videos, with a professional-type editing and perfect didactic dynamics.
You will have no trouble finding the tunes you want to learn to play, from the Titanic movie to the Leonard Cohen / Jeff Buckley Hallelujah… not to mention Imagine by John Lennon or the Game of Thrones theme song.
Who said the piano was an old-fashioned instrument? Certainly not us!
After following a piano tuto as we have just described, no doubt that your fingers will fly on the keys.
If you want to play a score, it will be time to work – or rework – an easy but familiar piano score. Or to a completely new universe…
Traditionally, Chopin’s Funeral March, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Turkish March, Letter to Elise and Beethoven’s Hymn to Joy, such as Bach’s Prelude, as well as an infinite number of productions by Brahms, Debussy or Liszt.
If you prefer movie’s music, you will have no trouble finding the sound of Amélie, Intouchables or Ludwig.
Good music is subject, like everything else, of a more or less lucrative trade.
Big publishing houses have been years or even decades celebrated for the quality of the annotations of their scores.
For popular scores, Noviscore is without a doubt the most prominent paying platform. It has the advantage of highlighting the pieces that work best.
If you want to go back in time, any online bookshop – general as well as specialized – offers piano methods and music notebooks in printed format.
Here, it is the Urtext of Henle who often has the good part with the virtuosos and in the conservatories.
Often, each musical blog classifies its scores by musical instruments, by style (waltz, adagio, tarantella, sonata, andante, paso doble…) and / or by author (Haydn, Purcell, Tchaikovsky, Schumann…).
Downloading is often just a few clicks away – and from time to time you need to take the visa card out!
Do, re, mi … and you’re done!
Many scores of ancient songs have entered the public domain.
In some cases, their rating will be more or less good. But since there is hardly any money to pay, there will be no bad surprises.
This is a great idea, especially if you want to play for a child or a young person. The free music scores often concern nursery rhymes, easy piano, style Ah would you say Mom, Moonlight or Lullabye…
Simply typing in “free piano scores” on any search engine will put you in no time in the presence of free sheet music for piano.
However there are two disadvantages often encountered: they’re full of ads… and transcriptions that are everywhere the same, from one website to another.
Small aside: do not forget to consult the tab “Images” of your search engine, because it is common to find there what you seek or even other wonders!
After consideration, we see that using these videos is not a bad thing. Providing they be used intelligently, accurately. And there, yes, we can say: thanks again to the internet!
In addition to lessons received by the teacher, rather than in the beginning, it’s perfect. Basically, they’re not a good tool to learn how to play piano but if you already are a piano player they can teach you new scores and new techniques for the songs you’re looking for, without having to play by ear. These videos can obviously have their usefulness.
But they alone are not enough.
This is the occasion to ask whether, in the long term, the virtual courses will not replace definitively the courses where the teacher is physically present.
Does learning all the basics, exercises, scales, little tricks that make us become a virtual pianist of genius is effective, or only possible?
This is an important question, at a time when the teaching of the piano is changing to adapt to the times in which we live.
Would the story of the piano and its learning be taking a new turn?
In any case, if you are interested in strings, violin for example, notice that the videos tutos will be totally useless.
We must then look at the classical courses and processes, and it is certain that you will find nothing better than the method for beginners of Frédéric Wales!