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The Reasons You Still Can’t Play Piano

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1. You Don’t Have Goals. It’s hard to know if you are improving if you don’t have a standard for measuring progress. Tangible, specific, time-sensitive goals are the key to improvement in any endeavor. As a piano student, there are number of areas that might demand your attention. Posture, finger placement, dexterity, right/left hand coordination, pedal technique, knowledge of music theory all advance at different rates for different players. A documented game plan for improving your skills in each area is essential for improving your overall skills as a pianist. Add specific, tangible milestones and timeframes to your online practice log or good old fashioned paper journal (you have one of those, right?) and hold yourself accountable for achieving them.

2. You Don’t Have A Good Enough Teacher. It is possible to teach yourself to play piano. But you are likely to learn more, more effectively, and faster if you take lessons with an experienced piano teacher. A good teacher will bring a successful road map and toolset to your lessons, as well as an objective ear. The best teachers also understand when to pat you on the back versus kick you in the piano bench to help you maneuver past points where you stall out on your path to improved piano playing prowess. Developing a good relationship with a qualified, trusted teacher can make a huge difference in your progress as a musician.

3. You Don’t Practice Enough. There are many legitimate reasons why becoming a better piano player may not be your top priority. Young students have homework, friends playing on the corner, and evolving interests that compete with the piano. Adult students have their kids’ interests, plus jobs and the rest of life’s complexities. There is no point in making excuses. You’ve got to either accept or change those factors that are getting in the way of your practice time when considering your piano playing goals and practice schedule. You simply can’t avoid regular and sufficient time in the piano practice barrel if you truly view playing piano with an level of mastery as a priority.

4. You Don’t Practice Well Enough. Of course, time on the keys in and of itself will only help so much. Understanding and pushing for perfect technique and performance repetitions in your practice is what drives sustainable improvement. Applying a perfectionist attitude (along with realistic but challenging milestones for measuring progress) to your piano lessons will help you maximize your practice time.

5. You Don’t Perform Enough. Public performances create an expectation of demonstrating a certain caliber of piano playing skill. You will get lots of praise as well as objective feedback from audiences. Public performances also give you a reason to build repertoire, help you learn to be flexible, and overcome distractions. Most of all, performing can and should be fun. There are few things more gratifying than letting that music you have been practicing so diligently and well out of the lesson room and into the smiling world for all to enjoy.

Blog by Brian Johnson, former Owner (2011-2016), North Fulton School of Music

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