Can You Learn Piano On Your Own?
So you want to learn piano, but not sure if you should learn directly from a teacher, or learn on your own?
After all, there are plenty of free resources online which allow you to learn piano on your own. So do you still need a teacher?
Let’s compare both approaches and decide.
Learning Piano On Your Own
Self-learning is a basic skill, inherent skill in every human. It’s how we learn to walk, talk, eat, and more.
We learn by watching others, making mistakes, then finding the right ways, and continue doing it until we become successful in doing it.
But the question is: Is it enough?
Obviously, it is enough to self-learn for some basic skills like walking and eating.
But for more complex skills, the learning curve can be steep and not easy for beginners.
Music is a field that includes many parts that work together: your hands, your feet, your ears, your vision (for reading music score or looking at your accompanist/soloist)…etc
There is a continuous input and output of signals that need to be processed by your brain to coordinate multiple actions at the same time.
Not something you can easily learn and figure out on your own.
But let’s say you just want to figure things out yourself. The next question is…Where to start?
Many self-learners will start like this:
1. Watch a few video tutorials and following the finger patterns on the piano.
2. Repeat a few times to get the tunes and fingerings right. Memorize the fingers.
3. Continue to figure out the rest of the finger patterns and the tunes of the song, and repeat until they can play the entire piece.
This whole process can take a few months to a year to learn one song properly (depending on the difficulty)
If taking months to figure out a song is okay for you, then self-learning is fine.
But… most self-learners won’t make it to the end of the song even after months of figuring out!
We talked to them to understand more… and their main struggle is?
Frustrated at figuring things out on their own
Frustrated as they are not sure if they are playing correctly or not
Frustrated as they are stuck at certain part of the song and not sure how to move on.
Frustrated because they have difficulty memorising the song. Too many finger patterns to memorise!
And before they can play any song, they gave up and conclude that piano is too difficult, or they are ‘too old’ for piano.
And that’s where piano teachers play an important role!
Many students who self-learn decide to start proper piano lessons with our teachers, and they progress much better after learning the basics with proper guidance.
But our teachers also share with us the problems they see after teaching many self-learn students:
1. Bad Posture
Playing notes from video tutorials is fun. But they don’t teach anything on posture – on sitting correctly and proper finger playing techniques.
If not corrected, the student will develop many bad habits which are hard to change. Worse, you can injuries playing piano.
2. Weak or Zero Foundation
Most video tutorials shows you piano tricks, short cuts or ‘hacks’, and make claims like you can play pop songs such as River Flows In You in just a few days even as a pure beginner.
Just look at the piano black and white keys, and memorise the finger patterns!
We know of self-learners who persevere for 6 months and end up memorising the entire finger patterns of the song, and they can “play from memory”!
So what’s next?
If you want to learn another song, you need another 6 months to memorise the new set of finger patterns.
So that’s the ‘short cut’ and ‘hack’ that video tutorials promise you?
Don’t sound like a short cut ya?
3. They don’t know what they don’t know
Most self-learners learn the piano by picking and learn based on what they feel like.
“I’m right-handed, so I play more on right hand. Left hand can come later”
“I think it’s time to learn pedalling”
“This part is too difficult. I’ll skip first”
And it’s not their fault to learn like this, because they have no one to guide them. So it’s natural to start from somewhere that is easier, even though it is not.
With proper guidance from a teacher, you will know which level you’re at, and the skills to have before moving forward. In this way, you will have a strong foundation and you can progress far easily.
So can you learn piano on your own?
Yes, but why?
The only benefit of learning on your own, is free. Yes, you save on fees, but you waste time.
Time wasted on figuring out on your own, time wasted on correcting bad habits, time wasted on re-learning piano properly.
Have a good teacher to guide you, learn proper playing techniques so you can play the pieces you like within days and weeks, not months or years.