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Exploding Popular Piano Myths! Are You Too Old To Learn?

Posted on October 19, 2015 at 7:40 PM

Are you too old to learn piano?


Here are some popular piano myths and the truth! :):D


Children learn much more effectively than adults..


Absolute nonsense! Most of my adult pupils learn in four lessons the music my child pupils take over one year to learn! Truth. Why is this? Adults focus on the subject on hand - not their dog, their phone, their toys, their aches and pains, the latest joke. Adults invariably listen to me without losing attention, and do as I say, immediately. Adults learn from their errors immediately. Adults want to learn! Children want to chatter.

Adults see the whole picture where a child only sees the nuts and bolts. Adults comprehend patterns and trends rapidly.


So you are never too old to learn piano: my oldest pupil plays at 92 years!


A digital piano is not as good as an acoustic upright piano


Myth! Most pupils would be far better to practice regularly on a new modern digital piano (from £600 new) than an old worn upright piano. So many parents say: "It belonged to my grandmother.." I think: "Yes, I can see that; do you keep her mangle too?" Worn pianos have faulty keys, poor tonality and are generally out of tune. How would your child feel being offered a newdigital piano with perfect touch and tone? Do you think they will be eager to learn? Invest in their future! (And my ears).


Classical music is proper piano music: you should learn the masters before playing jazz or pop


Wrong again! Classical music takes many years to really master and if your taste is for lighter modern music then you should focus on the music you love. How many hours in a year do you really intend to devote to piano practice? I recommend you begin with boogie and pop songs if you hate classics! Learn jazz chords and improvisation. Learn rhythms and keep in time. Time is the precious stuff your weeks are made of: don't waste ANY of it on music you dislike. But do learn all your scales because they are the best substitute for hours of dull music theory! See, I am practical, and I keep it FUN!


Scales are boring


I'm the piano teacher so of course I will disagree! My pupils suppose scales are boring until I play funky rhythms up and down the keyboard! Contact me for advice on how to make scales fun :lol:


You can't learn piano on a keyboard


Many teachers only teach right hand tunes and left hand block chords on keyboard but I start all children and adults the same way.

Five finger positions in each hand, learn C scale one and two octaves hands together in contrarimotion to get a feel for finger equality. Even Franz Liszt took a silent dummy keyboard to practice on long journeys! I help my pupils upgrade to a full piano when they are ready.


You must learn to perform from memory


Not so. I have seen top concert pianists play from sheet music. I generally play from sheet music - I play over a hundred pieces each week, why would I want to memorize all those? Playing from the music helps you focus on the page and stop watching your fingers! You will omit memory lapses and play confidently. Some children naturally memorize, but few adults do.

There is no benefit at all to playing from memory.


Boogie Woogie is not proper piano music


Well, how dyed in the wool are you? I love taking countless hours to perfecting and exploring boogie bass lines. It is very good material to keep your focus from rusting up and you learn to hear chord patterns well and improvize creatively. Boogie on!


Every piece should be learned hands separately first


Try a line slowly hands together to start with. Separate hands practice is more relevant for an expert player who wants to appreciate the quality of each line than an absolute must for a beginner. If you never learn to try music hands together then your ability to read at sight will suffer. Establish a strict pulse, slow at first, gradually increasing in speed. Never fall into the dire habit of playing differet bars at different speeds depending on the difficulty! Slow to begin, gradually increase the pace!


You should never play wrong notes!


Well how perfect are you? What is a wrong note? There's no note so wrong you can't twiddle out of it! Learn to improvise and make up sounds at the piano. Lose your fear. Forget Victorian learning which says you must learn by rote, you must play what's on the page. Over the centuries pianists have "interpreted" the music, rarely have they followed the page exactly. Franz Liszt, arguably the finest technician ever, once ended a piece in D major on a high C sharp by accident! Franz Liszt! He simply rolled back down the piano on an A major arpeggio and thundered back up on D major arpeggio. To perform brilliantly is to entertain. Accept you are HUMAN (so am I) - expect to make mistakes and get out of them intelligently! The worst thing is to stop and look silly - the best thing is to make a variation for 1-2 bars and graft back into the flow of the music - few will notice, those who do will admire your skill and humanity.


To err is human, to improvise: divine!


Bach should be played on the harpsichord


Harpsichords cost upwards of £30,000 now! I have never met anyone who owns a harpsichord at home, although I am saving for one www.morleypianos.com/harpsichords-&-clavichords/harpsichords myself (plus a house to keep it in)!

So why deny yourself access to the best study material of all time? Bach is the supreme master - play Bach every day!


You should not simplify difficult piano music


Why not? Most of the concert pianists from 1800 to 1950 did! They omitted notes, bars, repeats, chords, and slowed up in difficult passages; in fact, they invented a fashionable rubato style of sentimentalising the music to coincide with their technical ability! The public loved them for it. Only recently has it become unacceptable for concert performance but you are not aiming to play on stage so simplify all you like at home! All that matters is that you play, play, play (and enjoy)!


You should not skip grade exams


If grade exams are relevant for you (few of my adult pupils take them) then you need to prepare for the one you are ready for.

If that means missing a level then miss it! Don't hold yourself back. You don't need all eight certificates from grade 1 to 8.

If they are useful to your progess, take one. If not, leave it. Playing passionately with expression and enjoyment is key.


Fortnightly lessons give you more time to practice at home


Sorry, this one is nonsense! I have taught all ages and levels for over twenty years, weekly and fortnightly and everyone does as little practice between lessons whether weekly or fortnightly. You soon find other things to distract you, and you'll struggle to remember the lesson. If you want to learn effectively and fast the only answer is weekly lessons WHETHER YOU HAVE DONE ANY PRACTICE OR NOT! It's the regular contact with your teacher that provides momentum to progress.


I have a disability so I can't learn piano


Some concert pianists through the ages have only had a LEFT HAND! I'd call that a disability but it didn't stop them!

I have taught arthritic fingers, dyslexia, physical ailments..if you love music it's all mind over matter so start today!


My hands are too small!


Really? Well, mine are tiny so maybe you should think again! It's all mind over matter. If you want to play, you will!


I don't have the time to practice regularly


No, and you would suppose my pupils don't either!

However, you can do a lot with just ten mintues three times a week.

You must be terribly busy if you can't find half an hour in 168 hours a week - try sleeping less.

It's how you practice, not how long.


No one in my family ever played music, I don't think I could learn


Then you'll be pleasantly surprised! Stop putting it off and book your first lesson today, trendsetter 8)


You need a gift for music


My pupils don't have a gift between them but we get great results! You can learn to play piano just the same as you can learn to drive or make toast. Step by step. Give it a go!


You need an ear for music


Well, you've got two ears, haven't you? And one's enough. Get weaving. People who play by ear actually use their hands, same as everyone else :D Truth.


Louise Woodcock teaches inspirational piano, trumpet, sax and clarinet from Hastings to Canterbury.

Give her a ring and arrange your first lesson today - if you want to, you can!




Categories: Piano Lessons

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