You are beginning on the piano but you don’t know how to learn a new piano piece.
I know, it can be overwhelming.
Let me help you with 9 steps you should follow.
Watch the video:
1. Read the key signature
Start with the very beginning and read the key signature.
It will tell you if you have sharps or flats and thus which note you should play.
Without that, you will hit the wrong key and the song won’t be the same.
If you learn by ear, you don’t care!
2. Learn by chunk, one bar at a time
Don’t try to play the whole song at once.
Unless you have already some experience and it is very easy.
But as a beginner, you don’t want to do that.
Learn by small chunks, even one bar at a time. Then move to the next when you are confident enough.
This will make you progressively discover the whole song and memorize it easily.
3. Start over from the beginning
Now you have learned a bit more of this new piano song.
Take some time at the end of your session to play all you have learned from the start.
Start playing from the beginning and don’t stop until you reach the end of what you have already practiced.
You may have to repeat a few times.
Don’t focus too much on wrong notes but rather on being able to play it as a whole.
Because when you learn by chunks, you will tend to see each little part as separated. Then you don’t have the full picture, this beautiful song you are learning.
Playing over from the start will help you to incorporate the whole song, glue together the little pieces.
And memorize it further.
By the way, that’s the “secret” to give you the ability to play a full song from memory. Without music sheets or any cheat sheet!
4. Practice each hand individually
Don’t try to play with both hands to start with.
I tried and it was bad.
Play with one hand, usually the right hand, until you get more confident with it.
Then focus on your other hand and forget the first one. Practice until you are confident and you can play the note without mistakes.
Now it is time for the next step.
5. Practice with both hands slowly
Once you are able to play the chunk you are learning with each hand separately, it is time to use them both.
Please, play slowly and take your time.
Hand coordination is one of the most difficult aspect of playing the piano.
This is your fundamentals you are learning here.
Don’t rush it and focus on doing it right. Even if you need to play very slowly at first.
6. Loop on difficult parts
When you have discovered the whole song, you will have identified the parts that are the most challenging for you.
It is time to focus on that. Only that.
Loop on the bars that you find difficult to play. Repeat them again and again, until it gets easier.
You may need to do this for several sessions.
Don’t get discouraged, you will be able to play this eventually. Be patient and work on it.
7. Check the time signature and adjust the tempo
Once you are able to play the whole song without mistakes, it is time to check the time signature.
Is it 60 bpm? 100?
Then set your metronome a bit faster and try to play.
Still good? go faster. Until it doesn’t work. Then stay at this tempo and work on it.
When you are confident at this speed, you can increase it again.
Do this until you are able to play the song at full speed.
Take your time.
It is tempting to set the metronome at full speed and try to play.
It is not a good idea. Especially for a beginner. Very bad habit.
For an advanced player, it may be interesting, but that’s another story.
8. Work on the dynamics
OK, you know how to play the song. Good.
But you work is not finished. You need to make it more “musical” now.
Music is about emotions. Thus, you need to develop some expressivity in your playing.
The first way to do that is by working on the dynamics.
If you are using a music sheet, you may have annotations from the composer, such as pp (pianissimo, very soft) or ff (fortissimo, very loud).
If you play by ear, listen to the song and pay attention to the changes in dynamics.
You see, the piano is one (the?) of the most dynamic musical instrument. You can play very softly or quite aggressively and loud.
Use this potential of your instrument to add emotions to the song you play.
9. Work on the articulation
Another way to add expressivity to what to play is to work on the articulation of notes.
Certain parts might be played legato, which means that you want a very smooth transition between notes.
Others might be played staccato, where each note is well separated from the others.
There are specific notations for that on music sheets. Or use your ears to learn how to articulate each part of the song.
You have seen 9 steps or aspects of learning a new piano song.
If you use them all, you will be able to play very nicely every song you want.
Be patient and dedicated when you work on it. The most focused, the better results you will get, and the faster.
You don’t know which song to learn? here is a selection of 63 easy piano songs!
My question for you: what is your main struggle right now while you learn a new song on the piano? Let’s start the discussion!