Learn the piano online with Tutor Ninjas
Do you want to learn how to play the piano? Perhaps you feel like you don’t have the time to learn? Or maybe you’re struggling to find a decent piano tutor?
Online piano tuition is fast becoming the mode of choice for many people around the world. All you need is a reasonable broadband connection and a keyboard, and you can find yourself paired with a professional musician who will help you develop your keyboard skills.
Remote piano tuition is as good as being in the room with a teacher – as long as the camera is trained on your hands, you tutor will help you develop the motor skills needed to become a proficient player.
In this article, we’re going to explain the how-tos and the what-to-dos to help you get the most out of your online piano lessons.
What Do I Need To Learn the Piano online?
Perhaps the most obvious piece of equipment you’re going to need is a piano or some kind of electronic keyboard.
If you’re using a real piano, it helps if it has been tuned (there’s only so much honky-tonk you’re likely to be able to bear before permanent tinnitus sets in).
If you’re using an electronic keyboard, aim for the following:
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a full-sized, 88-key keyboard. A full-sized piano consists of eight octaves but – in reality – you mostly only ever really use the middle five.
5 octaves vs 8 octaves
Image courtesy of https://rolandcorp.com.au/blog/buying-childs-first-piano
So, aim for a minimum of five octaves if you can. A three-octave keyboard will be ok to get you started – but eventually, you’ll need more notes!
“Piano” is the shortened version of the instrument’s real name: Pianoforte.
Piano (pronounced pi-ar-no) is an Italian word meaning “softly” or “quietly”.
Forte (pronounced for-tay) is an Italian word meaning “loud”.
The piano was one of the first keyboard instruments capable of “dynamic” playing (the ability to play soft and loud), hence Pianoforte. We just shorten it to piano these days.
Part of the beauty, therefore, of playing the piano is the ability to perform expressively and to vary the force that you use to hit the keys.
Most electronic keyboards with full-sized keys are touch-sensitive – but be sure to look specifically for this description if you’re looking to buy.
If you’re on the lookout for a keyboard, check out this article.
Practising the piano requires LOTS of repetition, and your online piano tutor will give you exercises and pieces to learn that will help you to develop the motor skills demanded for piano playing.
Headphones allow you to get your practice in, without torturing the rest of your household with endless renditions of the C major scale and Für Elise.
What else do I need for remote piano tuition?
You’ll need a stable broadband connection and a video sharing platform such as the one offered by TutorNinjas.
The camera on your device should be aimed at your hands – that way, the piano tutor can see what you’re doing as well as hear you.
An essential part of learning the piano is training your hands to perform – you’ll find that this is the most challenging aspect of developing your keyboard skills. It doesn’t make any difference whether your piano lesson is remote or in-person – it’s all about developing sensitivity, dexterity, and ability in your fingers.
You’ll need a music book to learn from – you should find out which book the tutor recommends when you plan the first meeting.
What can I expect with my first online piano lesson?
A first lesson is about getting to know your tutor, but they’ll get you working quickly. They might ask you to play something on the piano to help them identify a good starting point for you.
You might not be able to play anything at all – that’s fine; they’re just looking for a starting point.
So, even if it’s Chop Sticks or a TV theme tune with one finger, they’ll ask to see what you already know.
They may ask you to sing a couple of notes and repeat a clapped rhythm. This isn’t about finding out if you’re a great singer; it’s just a general test of your inherent musicality.
You’re working remotely with your piano tutor, and as such, they’ll need to ask all the same questions they would ask if you were in the same room together.
Once the initial questions are done, they’ll give you some exercises to repeat. They might play a small, 5-note scale (C D E F G F E D C) and ask you to use fingers 1-5 to play them, or a similar, simple exercise to get started.
Musical notes are expressed on a musical stave (or staff), and part of learning the piano is learning to read the notes on the page. At first you’ll find it tricky and VERY slow; eventually, you’ll be able to read music as fluently as you’re reading this article.
There are two staves to read for piano music – usually, the top line tells you what to play with your right hand, and the bottom line tells you what to play with your left hand.
There are two “clefs” to learn – the symbol at the beginning of the stave that tells you how to read the notes. The top line is usually the “treble clef”; the bottom line is generally the “bass clef”.
This diagram explains how to read the notes:
Image courtesy of http://www.musictheory.me.uk
How Long Does It Take To Learn The Piano Online?
And we get to the million-dollar question: how long does it take to learn the piano online?
Well, the simple answer is that learning the piano is learning the piano – it doesn’t matter whether you’re in the room with a teacher or whether you have remote piano tuition. Learning online will NOT slow you down.
There’s a wise yoga saying: you don’t plant an acorn and expect a fully grown oak tree the very next day. Learning any musical instrument is a process – you learn simple tunes to start with, and then you develop the difficulty as time goes on.
Learning is a lifetime pursuit, and it never stops. You might need a couple of months of online piano lessons to develop your fundamental skills – you’ll learn:
- HOW to use your hands and how to coordinate them
- how to read music and how to create chords
- how different chords sound in sequence and how they relate together
And that might be enough to get you started.
However, you should never underestimate the value of a piano teacher who can help you develop your skills – they’ll know when to progress to the next stage and will guide you through the right exercises you need to continuously challenge you; keeping you interested and engaged all along the way.
Practice Makes Perfect
It doesn’t matter how many online piano lessons you have – if you don’t practice in between sessions, you won’t progress.
You should put aside some time each day to practice: your teacher will suggest how long. It could be anything from ten minutes a day to an hour – the more you practice, the more quickly you develop your skills and progress onto the next stage.
As much as practice makes perfect, patience makes practice perfect. Be prepared to struggle at first, and don’t be embarrassed if you get things wrong. If you’re not getting things wrong, the exercises aren’t challenging enough!
Your online tutor will understand how to pace your learning – they’ll give you an exercise or a piece to learn that will teach you a specific set of skills.
And once you’ve accomplished those skills, they’ll provide you with something new to push you further towards competency.
How do I find a great online piano teacher?
We set up TutorNinjas to help people just like you.
We have a team of experts waiting to guide you through the challenge of learning, and we’ll get you playing everything from Elgar to Elton John in no time.
And once you’ve learned your first tune, you’ll be hungry to learn more – and we’ll help you to create a repertoire of pieces that you’ll be proud to play at family gatherings and parties – or may even at the concert hall.
Check out the TutorNinjas list of subjects today, and get started on your musical journey.