If you’re looking for tips and tricks on how to play the keyboard, then this is the place to be! Our top 10 tips to playing the keyboard will help you learn your instrument. They won’t make you an overnight sensation, but they will help you get on the right path to becoming a great pianist or keyboard player.
Set Yourself Goals
We all need goals in life to move forward. Playing the keyboard isn’t just about sitting down to start playing; it’s about planning what you’re going to learn, and how you’ll get there. Macro-goals are brilliant. Don’t say “I’m going to learn the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto no 2 in the next six days”, as quite frankly, that’s ludicrous! Instead, say you’ll learn two pages of the concerto. And when you do that successfully, celebrate.
This of course applies just as easily to learning Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, as it does to the Rachmaninoff.
Set goals, set your time to practice, and go and do it!
Remember to warm up
Are warm-ups really necessary? Well, to play the keyboard, you need to work hard, practice, and most importantly, have a great technique. And all of that can come with the toll of backache, arm pain, wrist tension, to name just a few things. So if you’d like to avoid those not-so-fun symptoms of keyboard playing, I’d advise a nice warm-up; just to get you started…
Get your surroundings sorted
You’ll probably see your piano teacher once a week, at best. The majority of the time you’re practicing the keyboard by yourself, so make sure you are comfortable! Turn off your phone, have a glass of water nearby, and carve out time in your schedule to have some dedicated practicing. It doesn’t matter if it’s 15 minutes or three hours, it’s the quality of the piano practice that matters.
Learn the basics
I know scales and arpeggios are not fun, but they are crucial. Just read about them here in our ‘Beginners Guide to Playing the keyboard‘ – and you’ll find out why. Learning the keyboard or piano is difficult, but the quicker you understand that pretty much all music is either scale or arpeggio based, the faster you’ll make progress. So love them or hate them, the basics are here to stay!
Don't be scared to use a Metronome
If you can’t play a piece of music in time, then you still have some work to do.
“Flight of the Bumblebee” is played, depending on how you count it, at about 450bpm for instance. But don’t start trying to learn the piece at 450bpm. It’ll never happen! Start at 45bpm, and when you can play it at 45, speed it up to 55, and so forth until you can play at the correct speed. Your muscle memory needs to learn the piece, your keyboard skills will increase as you practice at a slow tempo, you can remember important (but boring) things like having a proper posture, making sure you have regular breaks, and check your hand position – particularly keep an eye on that index finger!
A metronome is sooooo useful. Make sure you listen to the beat, follow it, and never stop using it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a complete beginner, or a professional, we all use metronomes.
Just to check you understood, see rule five
We can’t stress this piano practice tip enough. Good musicians learn how to practice a fast piece at a tenth of its speed, and then gradually speed it back up to a normal pace. And what is the reason for this? Your brain!
When you play things too fast, you’ll make mistakes. Every time you play the keyboard, your brain is learning what you play. It learns the correct notes you play, but it also learns the mistakes. So if you are playing too fast, and making lots of errors, your brain will be learning those errors.
The alternative, which is our suggestion, is to go slooooooow. This way, you won’t make errors, and your brain will only learn how to play the piece correctly. When you gradually build up the speed, your brain also builds up the neurons of how to play the piece. And eventually, learning to play like this will mean minimal mistakes and your best performance. When you see on the sheet music is what you will play on the keyboard!
Don't always play hands together
Your right hand and left hand work independently – so why do you always practice them at the same time? Sure, when you are playing to your teacher in the piano lesson you’ll use both hands, as it’s like a mini-performance. But when you are practicing alone at home, make sure you do plenty of hands separate work. And try different things.
Close your eyes and see if you can play your right-hand part alone without mistakes. Then when you try your left hand alone, play games like missing out the notes that your thumb plays. All of these things are difficult, they make you concentrate harder, and as a consequence, you’ll learn faster.
Listen to other keyboard players
Name your top 10 favourite pianists. You have to know what “great” sounds like to sound great yourself, so if you don’t have the list, go to YOuTube and listen to more pianists. It’s such a simple tip that can be super effective.
Learn the music you love
Playing the keyboard isn’t always about the exercises and exam pieces that you need for your piano lessons. It should also be about fun and enjoyment. So make sure you are always playing a piece of music, or song, that you enjoy and is popular. Never forget you are learning to play the keyboard as an enjoyable way to spend your time!
Remember these tips and tricks!
It may sound obvious, but this list of tips and tricks will be helpful forevermore. Playing piano is a lifelong skill that you can acquire. And learning the keyboard is not just about piano practice, piano lessons, reading the sheet music correctly, remembering all the chords and keys, playing in tempo, playing the correct rhythm and using the correct fingers (I could literally go on all day with this list).
It’s about enjoying yourself. And like most things in life, if you see rapid progress, you’ll enjoy things more. And if you enjoy things more, you’ll make more progress. It’s the circle of life! So remember to print off this list of top 10 tips, and refer back to it regularly.