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It was the great Glenn Gould who said that the act of playing piano itself is quite simple, but it takes years and years to master it. And there’s no disputing Glenn Gould!
Bear this in mind when you begin learning a new instrument because you’re not going to be the Berezovsky of tomorrow by lazing on the sofa. The piano requires you to work every day, hour upon hour, if you want to get you break and make it as a virtuoso piano or a concert soloist.
Of course, you’re not obliged to play this keyboard instrument in a professional capacity: many novice pianists in London play purely for their own pleasure as well as that of their family and friends! It’s undoubtedly a case of “piano for all”!
But it’s always satisfying to reach the next level, learning to read and play renowned works for the piano. With this aim in mind, it’s wise to surround yourself with a good instructional team for music theory and musical technique.
When it comes to locations for learning the piano, the only downside to the capital is that property is expensive and inaccessible. Whether you’re buying or renting, it’s hard to find a large property to rent. We see this reflected in how people play piano: the pleasure of playing on a bulky and cumbersome grand, traditional or upright piano is usually outweighed by the convenience of an electric keyboard – but it’s always better than nothing!
A training in playing the piano also has the advantages of developing your sensitivity and intelligence whilst improving your dexterity, precision and physical agility. Plus, a jazz or classical piano qualification (eg. ABRSM grade 5) counts as credits for your university application!
An initiation to music through introductory music courses or beginner piano lessons with a pedagogically astute music teacher will equip most students with a sense of rhythm, harmony and melody. Whether in a social or professional capacity, that’s a huge plus!
Even if you can find music theory boring in the context of a city as buzzing as London, it’s an essential element of learning piano, especially if you want to take learning piano even the slightest bit seriously with any chance of success.
You should aim for you sight-reading should flow naturally with precision, far from any sort of improvisation. Even if you’re lucky enough to have perfect pitch and an excellent musical ear, music theory will be a huge help and will equip you with an understanding of different keys, as well as the ability to read them (brownie points if you know what key Clair de Lune is in).
This means you may need to sign up for music theory lessons too when you contact a music teacher about learning piano.
Private piano lessons at home are ideal for adult and child instrumentalists alike. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be able to make progress!
Britain may have been described as ‘The Land without Music’ in 1904 by a German critic, but learning music in London is nothing new. The UK capital has played host to some of the world’s greatest artists over the centuries, and it’s the same story when it comes to music. What great European composers and performers have not passed through London at some point in their career? (Or at least aspired to…)
Even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (his incredible Turkish March is an essential piece in any repertoire) spent a year in London on his grand tour of Europe, but there’s no forgetting Mendelsohn, Berlioz, Handel, Gounod, Chopin, Grieg, and Bartok… the list goes on!
At the same time, London has produced many successful piano manufacturers, such as Wornum (founded in 1811) or Challen (1804). That said, Yamaha pianos have found incredible success in London over the last few years.
There’s no questioning that Britain’s capital is an international city. It is by far the driving force for the country, economically, culturally and politically so much so that music and arts in general are incredibly well represented.
Widely believed to be the cultural capital of the world, London is home to multiple major concert halls – including the Royal Albert Hall - and world-famous orchestra that attract the big names in music year upon year so that even piano royalty have butterflies in their stomach when they’re preparing to take the stage: itsuko Uchida, Benjamin Grosvenor, Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Stephen Hough…
You can’t really claim to be an accomplished pianists – jazz or otherwise – if you haven’t played on the banks of the River Thames!
Whether for studies, work, personal or political reasons -London is a culture melting pot with many different communities sharing the same space in the heart of an enormous urban area. As a result, all styles of music are represented across the city: you only need to choose which style of music you’ll enjoy the most and you’ll probably find the means to learn it on the piano. Remember that the modern music has not yet managed to build on the success of the traditional chamber music when it comes to the piano (maybe you’ll be the one to make it popular?)
So it’s no surprise that pianos put at the public’s disposition in train stations and streets of London have been hugely successful and well-used – you’ll rarely find them empty!
In London, there are so many institutions dedicated to the teaching of music that we can only mention but a few significant ones.
There is, for example, the Royal College of Music, established in 1882.
The RCM provides THE route to becoming a great pianist in London. Places at this conservatoire are reserved for the most talented musicians, and they must undertake a rigorous audition and interview process to secure a spot - London’s conservatoire is not just a national treasure, but an internationally renowned music school. This institution is based near Kensington and reserved for the best of the best, but you’ll find that there are less prestigious but still excellent music schools offer piano for beginners in most boroughs of London.
All-in-all, it won’t be too hard to find a music school in London where you can buy or rent an electric keyboard, upright piano, or harpsichord – nor to find a tutor to teach you how to play it!
Although you can usually find online piano lessons (which cost nothing) for your initial introduction to music, nothing is quite so effective as a qualified music teacher who can give you music lessons at home, teaching you music theory and helping you to hone the fundamentals of piano.
Learning piano on the internet is not a one-stop solution when you’re based in a city as vibrant as London. Although it is good for finding sheet music online for free, you still need to make sure your technique and fingering on the keyboard is on point. In addition, if you’re looking to play masterpieces by Liszt, Debussy, Schubert and Satie, you need to be able to read the notes. Learning to do this under the guidance of an experienced teacher is more enjoyable and effective than plunging head-first into learning on your own, with just a metronome to accompany you.
Rather than learning piano online, investigate the piano lessons available on Superprof and get in touch with one of the many private tutors working as independent teachers in London, who will happily teach you at home or in their own homes (dependent on equipment available).
Finding a teacher with experience in giving lessons to novice pianists is ideal if you want to rapidly expand your musical understanding and fluency. Individual lessons are generally much more tailored to your needs than group lessons or free tuition videos online.
With Superprof, the first lesson is often free to give you the chance to try out the teacher’s methods and see how you get on with the piano. Generally, this free lesson should help you to get the lay of the land.
Superprof can connect you with nearly 900 teachers in London – that’s a quarter of the teachers available across the whole country. In London there is a lot of competition amongst teachers to find students, the rates reflect this - with an average price of around £35 per hour - and tutors in all boroughs are usually willing to give piano lessons at home. You can even take lessons with internationally renowned concert pianists, with rates for such experience heading at up to £70 per hour!
Each teacher on Superprof provides a profile of their experience and qualifications, a photograph, a catchment zone for their lessons, an hourly rate, references and feedback from former/current students, payment types accepted, and teaching formats (at the teacher’s place, at the student’s home, by webcam…) - learning piano is as easy as surfing the web for your teacher! You’ll see, you’ll be playing the boogie woogie with incredible rhythm in no time once you’ve found the right teacher for you!
But remember, it’s hard to stop once you’ve dipped your toe in the water of learning a musical instrument! Soon you’ll be signing yourself up to lessons for the classical guitar, the saxophone, the ukulele, the violin, the flute, singing, bass guitar, the accordion, the harmonica, the drums, the recorder, the clarinet… the list goes on!
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