Originally published on Medium
The benefits of learning piano are numerous, studied, and well documented. Anyone can start and benefit at every skill level and amount of commitment, so why don’t most people play? The answer is that we have over-complicated getting started.
There are only 3 things you need to succeed at piano:
- The Right Teacher
- A Good Piano
Most people who start learning piano began with a bit of ambition — maybe it was a parent’s ambition for their child to learn, nonetheless it was ambition. The ambition one starts with is either going to grow or diminish based on the other two things you need to succeed at piano.
The right teacher for you may not be the right teacher for someone else but, for the most part, you will recognize your needs as a student. Personally, I learn well through failure and trying to figure out how I can fix my own mistakes, another person likes the encouragement and direction from a cheerleader type of environment, while others require a coach to really push them to achieve more. Hopefully, your teacher will also recognize a good fit and best teaching style for you!
Having a good piano is often the linchpin. Of the 3 things you need to succeed at piano, this is the one that everything could fall apart and leave someone feeling like a failure or just plain frustrated. A good piano will allow you to make music more easily because the keys are easier to control. Each key should play the same as the next and allow you to produce dynamic contrasts, provide a palette of varying articulations, and ultimately not creating barriers to musical expression.
A bad piano will bankrupt ambition. Imagine practicing for hours and not making any progress — you push the keys but it doesn’t sound like music. What happens after a few weeks of trying hard and making no progress? Less effort is invested because there is less ambition seeing such a paltry return on the time invested. After a couple weeks, maybe a month or so, even the right teacher will become frustrated with the lack of practice and progress.
Starting off with all three ingredients is important. There will be times when ambition wanes but having a good piano will call you back like a Siren’s song. The right teacher will help steer you towards challenges that keep you engaged and ambitious. The right piano rewards your ambition and the teacher for all the time invested and challenges overcome.