Copied from a recent discord conversation
“I’m just wondering if someone has any tips on good resources for exercises, beginner/intermediate level? Books, videos etc. I’ve tried searching but there’s just so much, so it’s a bit difficult to know where to start.”
“Researching this was like my profession in summer XD”
Yt is an information mess.
1.)Get a method book - I recommend Alfreds Basic Adult Piano Course, to not overwhelm you with decision I’ll just say that all of them are great at what they do so just order this one
2.)Follow Andrew’s How to play piano and Music Theory course weekly. One episode per week **
3.)** My favorite ytbers are PianoTV and JoshWright also PiaNote is nice. They teach you theory, how to play pieces and show some technique advice. Actually there are too many to mention for this. So whenever you are learning a piece without a teacher - Watch a yt pianist or teacher!
4.)I bet you want good technique! So I recommend Czerny’s op. 599 and Hanons “The virtuoso pianist” books for daily warmup and TECHNIQUE PRACTIIICE!! It’s straight forward although Czeny’s op 599 can be a little too intimidating for a early, early beginner but it overall is okay and not too hard to read sheet music wise.
Disclaimer Note: Andrew usually recommends waiting on Hanon or Czerny until after you’ve been playing for a year or so to build up hand strength first. Overdoing these, especially Hanon, can lead to injury so make sure to play them only for small amounts of time, 5 minutes or so.
Method books introduce new concepts, challenges and etc with every piece
Imagine it as a LVL game where you level up after every task.
I used this to browse for a couple of hours to listen or level appropriate music. It has ranked music. A good resource!
And overall suggestions would be Schumans Album for the young Narnels note book and Anna magdelinas notebook
I hope this helps!"
1.) Get a method book (Just do it)
I recommend “Alfred’s Basic Adult Piano Course”, to not overwhelm you with unneeded decision making. I’ll just say that all of the method books do their job well. No matter which one you order, they get the job done so just order this one. For those who wish to go an Classical only path then I recommend “Bartok - Mikrokosmos”
*Method books introduce new concepts and challenges with every sequential piece. Imagine it as leveling up after doing a task in a video game.
2.) Start watching Andrew’s 2 courses.
One “Learn Free Music Theory” and one “How to play piano” per week. Do all the homework and make sure you remember. These rudiments will help you so much.
3.)Watching pianists, teachers on youtube is incredibly beneficial. I would always recommend watching someone else play your piece before you attempt it. My favorite youtubers are PianoTV, PiaNote and JoshWright. When you are learning a piece without a teacher definitely search it up on youtube to see if anyone can walk you through it.
4.)I can bet you want to play with good technique, meaning that you will be precise, consistent and in control of your fingers and hands when you play. To do this I recommend Czerny’s Op. 599 and Hanons “The Virtuoso Pianist in 60 exercises” books for practice. Hanon is really good for warmup and building finger strength, Czerny will help you with sight reading and really develop your finger movement and many more aspects of technique.
Disclaimer: Andrew usually recommends waiting on Hanon or Czerny until after you’ve been playing for a year or so to build up hand strength first. Overdoing these, especially Hanon, can lead to injury so make sure to play them only for small amounts of time and with no tension.
5.)Don’t know what to play? Browse the RCM Syllabus
I personally browsed through the beginner levels and found a lot of nice sounding, level appropriate repertoire pieces for me to play. I suggest you try to do that too. It has music categorized by difficulty.
Overall book suggestions: For baroque music: Notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach.
For classical: Notebook for Nannerl
For romantic: Schumann Album For the Young
I hope this helps!
Notes For Beginners
Firstly: Clear your mind of all the expectations, ideas and preconceptions you have about the piano. Accept that you know nothing, this will benefit you immensely. Understand that you must do this or your incorrect assumptions will hold you back.
Secondly: It is important to not rush through a level of difficulty. I will repeat this several times; it really is that important. Aim to learn a variety of works in a variety of styles written by a variety of composers from a variety of time periods. Don’t just learn a handful of pieces and move on, work on material of a certain level of difficulty until you find that the music noticeably becomes much easier to learn. This can be measured both in terms of time spent practicing a piece, the quality of the end-result, and the ease with which you eventually learn to play the piece. If you do things the right way, transitioning into the next level of difficulty will be seamless, which is how it should be.
Thirdly: Actively read when learning material, don’t memorize! The long-term benefits of being a good reader are incredible. Your improvement as a player will directly translate in you being able to learn increasingly hard material in a short amount of time.
1 - How often should I practice?
Consistency is key - practicing 30 minutes a day is better than jamming 5 hours of practice on the weekends - playing often and for small amounts is the most efficient way to practice! Try to spread out your practice routine through out the day with 30 or 20 minute sessions and if you want to play for 2 hours straight then just take 5 - 10 minute breaks every 20 - 30 minutes. Why? Because the longer you sit the more you lose focus which means your just wasting time not really gaining and retaining anything and your arms get tired which can lead to injury which can also lead to your piano tendonitis. Note that if your hands start to hurt you are doing something wrong, your hands should never hurt! Generally for beginner it’s recommended to play 30 - 1 hour a day.
3 - What should I practice? Learning piano is a long journey - you need to study theory, practice technique, sight reading, listening- developing these skills takes time. Practicing daily is key. You need to practice scales, arpeggios, triads, inversions, 7th chords, play etudes to develop certain technique, practice sight reading and of course the main reason we play piano, to learn our favorite pieces - repertoire. But don’t rush repertoire! What you should avoid Don’t do this - “I’ve been playing piano for 3 months and I’m learning Beethovens moonlight sonata 3rd movement, La campanella, Chopin’s etudes.” That is idiotic, those are really advanced pieces and you will just get stuck, not progress and hurt yourself! You can’t tackle these as a beginner! Seriously. Here’s a common scenario: A relative beginner listens to Chopin, falls in love, and decides to learn some Chopin. Problem is, even the easiest Chopin is at an early advanced level. So this beginner attempts to learn, say, Chopin’s Prelude in B minor. They pour a ton of time and energy into it and are eventually able to play it… …Sort of. Playing it is a struggle, they’re so focused on the notes that any expression suffers, and they have to play it constantly in order to maintain it. Maybe they’ve had to spend months learning it, a single piece, and nothing else. This pattern continues, and maybe in a years’ time this person has learned 3 or 4 pieces. Hours of work to only have learned a few pieces in a single year? That’s a very unproductive way to spend all your practice time. If you’re spending a few months only on one piece, you’re not going to be developing your sight reading skills. You’ll sight read until you get to know the piece well enough, and then you’ll only be using the music as a memory aid. You’ll spend months at a time not actually reading, and thus not actually learning.
4 - How to organize my practice sessions
Before practicing always start with a warmup or one of your easiest repertoire/etude for a couple of minutes. Every 20(If you are a beginner) or 30 minutes a 5 - 10 minute breaks are necessary in order to gain your focus back and for your body to rest. It’s better to practice 30 minutes a day then 3 hours on the weekend, you retain significantly more with that, by letting your muscle memory sit in the gains are significantly higher!
Practice examples (There is no one right way to practice! But it’s always, ALWAYS better to set up your own plan rather then just sitting down and doing something on a whim)
(Example) 1 hour - *15 - 20 min of technique(Scales, triads, inversion and then arpeggios and 7th chords - having them on a daily rotation). *10 min of sight reading. *30 - 40 minutes of Repertoire and Etudes(recommended to learn 2 pieces at a time, any more will result in too much time necessary to progress further)
2 hours - *20 - 30 min technique. *10 - 15 min of sight reading. *75 - 90 minutes of (with breaks!) Repertoire and Etudes(Do 3 pieces at a time and have them on a rotating schedule! Let’s say you are playing Mozart, Bach and Czerny’s etude. On day 1 you practice the pieces from Mozart and Bach; Day 2 Bach and Czerny’s etude; Day 3 Czerny’s etude and Mozart. This practice routine is highly efficient and beneficial, letting everything sit in is important and underrated and I highly recommend it! Mozart said “The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” And I’d like to think something similar along the lines of practice, my quote “The progress is not in the practice, but in the rests between” Haha. Also when learning repertoire you need to keep up momentum, by momentum I mean learning a piece and having that celebratory moment of victory. You should practice 1 short piece and one harder piece when learning repertoire. Ex. 1.(1-2 weeks to learn the piece) 2.(1 Month to learn the piece)
Without momentum you will burn out!
NOTE - also with the technical side It’s good to keep it on a rotation - one day you practice scales, triads and inversions and the other arpeggios and 7th chords, for example.
4.1 - With what should I start and end in my practice?
First of all set a timer to your planned out practice session. Always start with a warmup to get your fingers moving, diving in advance repertoire will be clumsy and could lead to injury, the practice can be the technical side such as scales and arpeggios. After the initial warmup start practicing with the hardest stuff. When you sit down your brain is really alert so take advantage of that by doing something that is most demanding! Something demanding might be practicing a hard piece, a trouble spot and learning a new piece or continuing to new sections in a piece you are currently learning. After that and a good break you can continue with sight reading and finish of with easier pieces.