15 Tips to Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Quickly


Maybe you have some piano experience, but you need to improve your playing skills?Have you been taking piano lessons for some time now, but feeling no progress?Starting to learn piano but finding it hard to improve? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you will need to learn how to improve your piano skills.

In this article, we’ll be showing you how to improve your current piano skills. The article takes into account people who learned playing by ear,using lessons from a professional teacher, or using instructional materials such as books and DVDs . So, if you feel that a certain step has already been accomplished, go ahead and skip it to the next step. Dive in and enjoy!

1.Plan your practice.

Although this is not necessary later, at first, when you’re learning new things, it’s important to know what you should be learning in the next few sessions so as to be able to measure your progress. This is supposed to help you keep track of your knowledge and skills progress, not be a tool to disappoint you if you didn’t make the progress you hoped for in the time you expected. If you feel some particular concept took a really long time to master, don’t worry. The important thing is that, in the end, you do master it.

2.Manage your learning and practice time.

Dedicate a time slot to sessions or training and be committed about it. Try not to allow anything to deter you from your practice. Commitment to practice is crucial to improving your abilities.

Use schedules if your time is so full that you cannot dedicate the same time slot periodically.

Use reminders on any device you usually carry with you to remind you of your sessions.Plan your practice.

Although this is not necessary later, at first, when you’re learning new things, it’s important to know what you should be learning in the next few sessions so as to be able to measure your progress. This is supposed to help you keep track of your knowledge and skills progress, not be a tool to disappoint you if you didn’t make the progress you hoped for in the time you expected. If you feel some particular concept took a really long time to master, don’t worry. The important thing is that, in the end, you do master it.

3.Improve your musical notation reading skills.

Many of the steps and tips to follow will either depend on, or greatly benefit from a proficiency in reading musical notation (sheet music). You can do this as follows:

Learn to read piano music if you haven’t already done so. Make sure you understand most of the concepts of musical notation. If you want to improve your overall piano playing, you’ll need to learn about more advanced musical notations such as dynamics, tempo, key and time signatures, clefs, etc. Knowing only how to read the notes themselves and their intervals won’t be enough.

Learn to sight-read piano music. This will improve your ability to translate what you see and understand on the musical sheet into beautiful piano tunes.

4.Improve your finger placement and speed on the piano keys:

Learn some finger stretching exercises to use before you start playing.
Learn proper piano finger placement if you haven’t already done so. Placing your fingers correctly on the piano keys is crucial to developing more advanced abilities.

5.Practice the different scales using proper finger placement.

Start by practicing going up the scale, then down, then up and down. Do each one at least five times using proper finger placement when practicing a certain scale.

Try to practice two or three scales before each session. Do this whether a “session” is a lesson with a teacher, or some free time slot you assigned to learning and practicing the piano.

Try to practice using sheet music that contains finger numbering on them, especially at first. This way you can be sure that you are playing correctly. Fingering is very important later on when you are playing harder pieces.

Practice with increasing speed. Set your metronome on a slower speed and when you have mastered one speed move it up to a faster speed. This will develop muscle memory. When learning a new song, or a new scale, start by playing it slowly but obeying the timing of the piece. Then, start speeding up, keeping proper time intervals between the notes. For example, if practicing a simple C Major scale, you’ll start by playing each note (C, D, E, F, G, A, B) as a whole beat. Then start playing each note for half a beat (not leaving the other half beat as a rest), then quarter, and so on. Once you made a mistake, start all over again. Practice this for half an hour a day until you feel you can do it without making any mistake.

Practice proper chords finger placement. You can find many resources on the internet detailing proper fingering for each chord. Sometimes you’ll find more than one optimal finger placement; this is a matter of preference, so follow whichever makes you more comfortable while playing (especially while progressing from one chord to the next).

6.Memorize and practice musical scales, especially the most prominent ones.

Learn all the Major, harmonic minor, melodic minor and chromatic scales. Master the scales and practice them. Also, if you’re playing a specific style (such as blues, jazz, etc.), learn the scales of that style.

7.Memorize and practice chords.

Chords are multiple notes played together at the same time (on the piano, pressing multiple keys simultaneously).
Begin by learning the most prominent chords.
Learn the different inversions of a chord. Try to learn when and in what progression each inversion is used.
Practice chords by playing progressions. Start with simple ones such as the C-F-G progression. Once you’ve mastered those, go to more complicated ones.

8.Improve your musical aptitude (commonly called musical ear) by practicing listening to musical pieces and trying to infer their notes. Do this as follows:

Start with simple and slow songs. Try to find the notes of the song first by trial and error on the keyboard.Always practise slowly before you try to play quicker.
Try to name the notes using only your ear after that, and writing them down.
After you’ve finished a section, try playing the notes you’ve written down, see how close you were.
You might create some grading system and try to test yourself. Don’t worry if you get only few notes at first. Just learn from the mistakes you make. Bit by bit, you’ll some day be able to write down the whole song with great accuracy.

9.Improve your musical “mind playing”. Mind playing is when you play a song or a piece of music in your mind. This can be done as follows:

Look at a sheet music and try to play it in your mind. At first, you’ll find difficulty doing so, so play it tone by tone. At the very beginning, you might use some sort of recording device and read the notes by humming and recording. With progress, you’ll start recording larger chunks of the sheet before pausing to read the next chunk. Then you’ll be able to sight read whole passages, melodies, and even pieces in your mind.
After that, actually play the piece and see how close it was.

10.Make sure your posture on the piano is proper.

Improper posture on the piano can cause pain which in turn makes your body more stiff so that you can’t play as fluently as you would if your posture were correct.
Align your pelvis opposite to the Middle C note.
Sit upright, not leaning towards or away from the keyboard.
Be relaxed, not stiff.

Your fingers should be slightly curved downwards, as if you’re holding an apple in you hand. Do not place your fingers in a perpendicular position with the keys. Also, do not allow your fingers to curve upwards.
If you’re new to playing, watch the pinky fingers. They seem to go higher than the other fingers for new learners. Try to make each pinky stay at the same level as the other fingers. This might need some practice at first, but keep it up until it becomes the natural stance.

11.Practice on your favorite musical pieces or songs at first.

You can find a lot of free sheet music on the internet and you can buy song books and sheet music from many music stores. You can also download free midi files of the song or piece and transform it into sheet music using certain software such as MuseScore.

Start by playing the piece really slowly. What matters at first is that you get the progression of notes and chords.
Worry about timing at the next stage. After you’ve mastered the progressions and development of the piece, start perfecting your timing. Make sure each note is played for the period it is meant to be played, and at the time required.

Use sectioning while learning. Learn sections of the song, master them and then move to the next section. A section can be a melody, a chord progression, a chorus or refrain, etc.

12.Improve your left-hand right-hand coordination skills. This can be accomplished as follows:

Do some coordination exercises before you start practicing. The use of a metronome device would be good as you can practice coordination at different tempos.

When practicing more complex pieces, start by practicing the right hand part of the piece, then the left hand (or vice versa) then try to play them together. Take your time, don’t rush it. Once you’ve mastered one part, move to the next, and not before that.

13.Practice performing in public.

It’s important to get used to playing in public while not getting tense because of a wrong note, or nerves.
Start by performing in front of a small group of private acquaintances (family, friends, etc.).
Increase the number of attendants slowly.
Start performing in private occasions (picnics, vacations, parties, etc.)

14.Make use of modern technology if you’re practicing by yourself.

There is a wide range of software and hardware designed to aid in the practicing and improvement process. Some of those are:
Metronome devices. Used to practice timing and tempo and adjust your playing in accordance with time.
Software pianos. These can be useful while improving your musical aptitude and mind reading.

Musical notation software such as MuseScore. This type of software is useful for transforming midi files into sheet music. It is also useful for storing musical scores digitally, managing them, reprinting them, etc. Also, software helps with the process of composing music.

Musical software games and practice aids such as Synthesia and PrestoKeys. These games and aids are used to practice musical scores by means of a MIDI keyboard or a piano (in which case, the game won’t be able to keep your score).

15.Learn the fingering techniques.

Efficient fingering will help your technique so much more. Compare this to multiplication. If you were given the problem 5 plus 5 plus 5 a hundred times, would you do 5 + 5 + 5 +… or 5 * 100? Obviously the second option. Similarly, if you could use a more efficient fingering, why not use it? It takes 1 minute extra to figure out what fingering suits you best. A minute spent now could save you hours later when you try to change your fingering.
Know how the muscles in your hand work. Most of this comes from common logic. For example, you can easily point at something with your index finger. How about your ring finger (thumb = 1, index = 2, middle = 3, ring = 4, pinkie = 5) I’m not an expert in human anatomy, but it’s very likely that the thumb and index finger have individual muscles, while the third, forth and fifth have muscles connected to each other. As a result, don’t use excruciatingly painful fingering, such as pressing the middle C with your pinkie and then going for the E with your thumb and then the G with your ring finger.

Buy your sheet music. If you can afford sheet music, it may be in your best interests to do so. Sheet music comes with fingerings (only the ones you need to know), and people will usually have tested it before releasing it. You can photocopy books as well, but make sure you don’t break any copyright laws.