Looking To Get Started With Piano Lessons?

Why Learn To Play Piano?
What Are The Benefits To Learning Piano?
What Makes The Piano Unique?
How Old Should You Be To Start Learning Piano?
Can You Be Too Old To Start Learning Piano?
What Are The Benefits To Learning Piano At Toronto Arts Academy?

1. PIANO LESSON BASICS

Why Learn To Play Piano

Piano lessons are a great way to develop your creativity, expressiveness, and problem-solving skills. The piano is such an impressive instrument to be able to play, it has caught the imaginations of the world’s most famous composers for hundreds of years. The world’s most influential musicians have used the piano to write some of the world’s most well-known songs and melodies! And we all know there is nothing quite like the power and wonderment of a pianist who can play well.

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What are the benefits of learning piano?

Research has shown that playing piano can trigger growth hormones in the brain, slowing the effects of aging, while also sharpening your fine motor skills and head-eye coordination. It also improves your body by teaching you good posture. Also, the psychological skills developed including patience, diligence, creativity, and expression, are useful in almost every area of adult life. Playing piano also calms the mind and brings it to focus, which is a much needed skill in todays short-attention span technological world.

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What Makes The Piano Unique

The piano is a very tactile and percussive instrument, with weighted keys to press down with different intensities, across a wide keyboard stretching up to 4 feet long that includes very low to very high notes. It is a can be gentler on the fingers and hands in most cases than learning guitar. The piano can be played with finger movements that can be simple, to wildly complex! More importantly, a piano is known for filling any room with warmth and richness that are enjoyable for a whole family to hear. Unlike other instruments, the piano is also a very visual instrument – you can easily see the notes you have to play, and playing the right note isn’t too difficult – as long as you note what note you intend to play!

Toronto Arts Academy Piano student playing piano

How Old Should You Be To Start Learning Piano?

There is no right age for everyone when it is best to start learning piano, and one can start at any age. We’ve had children as young as 3 demonstrate remarkable interest and focus for learning piano. We’ve even had a virtuoso 2.5 year old! However most others may find their sweet spot for learning between the ages of 6 and 8, while many of our students are between 5 and 10. This is a great age range to start learning as the hand muscles are beginning to form, and students are able to grasp the more complex patterns used in music. The most determining factor for any child when beginning lessons is whether or not they have the attention span to focus for 30 minutes without being too distracted, or losing the ability to stay engaged in their learning. If you’re not sure if your child is the right age, we always suggest enrolling your child on a trial basis, to see if they have the focus to get a head-start learning piano!

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Can You Be Too Old To Start Learning Piano?

On the flip side, some adults often wonder if they are too old to start, or even continue their learning and love of piano. The answer, of course, if you are never too old to improve your ability to play music. We’ve had students as old as 80 learn how to improve their playing on the piano. Playing piano often helps to keep them young at heart, and give expression to their inner music and creativity.

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What Are The Benefits To Learning Piano At Toronto Arts Academy?

Our top-notch facilities, amazing teaching staff, as well as organized and supportive office staff, are some of the reasons why we’ve been voted Toronto’s Best Music School! Check out some of our other popular school features!

At our schools, we have both acoustic and cutting-edge digital pianos which we use for our private lessons and group lessons. The benefit of digital pianos is that the volume can be controlled more easily, they never become out of tune, and there is a much wider array of sounds that can be used. Piano lessons on acoustic pianos are much louder to play and can become out of tune frequently, especially with the changing of Canadian seasons.

2. LEARNING PIANO

What Should I Look For In A Piano Teacher?

Whenever you’re about to embark on a new learning adventure, it’s helpful to know in advance the kind of teacher you learn best from. Most students benefit from finding a teacher who is fun to be with, who has a warm personality, has a wealth of experience, and who you feel inspires you to get better. More importantly, is the teacher flexible in their playing styles and experiences, so they can accommodate a wide variety of learning styles for different students, or do they only have a few ways that they are comfortable with teaching?

Our piano teachers are carefully selected from across Toronto for their educational background, their professional experience, and their wonderful personalities! All of our teachers are also police checked and reference checked, and we keep video cameras in all lesson rooms as part of our comprehensive family safety program. Our teachers are guaranteed to have warm personalities, and each one brings a wealth of professional and academic experience in just the right balance to really help you explore your potential in a safe, productive environment, and help you become the best you can be. With over 15 piano teachers (both male and female) between both locations, we most definitely have a piano teacher that will be the best fit for you. Get ready to fall in love with learning piano from friendly, supportive, and talented teachers!

Should We Do Private Or Group Piano Lessons?

Both private and group lessons provide unique benefits to the learning process. In the private lesson, you would get more focus directly on your own needs, and your learning would be much customized for you. But you may not have a sense of how your learning compares to others, or how you can learn from others in your own peer group. Group classes give you that opportunity to be with others in your own age group who are learning similar concepts as you are. Group classes help you feel a part of the larger musical community and give you a framework to understand how your growth fits in with that of others.

Group classes are also a great way to learn how to meet new friends, and how to bond with others over shared interests! At our schools, the foundation of all our learning is private lessons, although we provide complimentary group makeup classes as well to really compliment and accelerate your learning, as well as help you meet new friends and other families you may not have otherwise met!

What Kind Of Learning Program Should We Use?

At our schools, we don’t focus on just one way of learning for everyone. Every student has different interests and learning styles, and so each student often requires their own adaptation to the learning methods of the teacher. With that said, there are many successfully used, tried and true ways of learning piano that have been used around the world for decades. Some of those are: Bastien, Piano Adventures, Royal Conservatory Of Music, Alfred’s, and others.

There are in addition other piano learning systems that are rooted in the rich and varied, as well as established methodologies of the classical period. Some are more theory based, for those that love to get complicated, and others are designed to be more practical, structured to help you play popular songs you might hear in movies, games, or hit songs on the radio. We always suggest talking with your teacher so you can discover your motivation for learning piano, your interests, and your unique learning style, so we can look at ways to help you grow into the best piano player you can be!

What Are Some Of The Challenges With Learning Piano?

Learning how to master any instrument is a challenge and takes time. It’s difficult on most instruments to even get a pleasing sound out of it! But with the piano, the notes are there ready to be played. Although creating a basic tone is easier on piano, it’s the playing of the music written for it that can be the real challenge!

The challenge with piano, however, is that much of the music written for it can be quite complex. While most other instruments you would play one note at a time, on the piano, you play with two hands, often doing very different patterns. It can take some time to develop this autonomy with both hands. One also has to be able to read the music written for both hands at the same time!

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How Can We Get Started Learning Piano?

You might have noticed that the piano keyboard consists of a series of black and white keys. These music keys each have names based on the letters ABCDEFG. Novice piano players may spend time in the beginning learning how to identify the letter notes on the keyboard, and learning how to play just the white keys to produce the major scale – a pattern of notes that most western music is based on.

Can you find where the letter names that match the keys on the piano?

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What Is Good Piano Posture?

The first step in establishing good posture for piano playing is to start with how you sit at the piano bench. You want to sit about halfway onto the bench, and not too close, but not too far from the piano. Your elbows should be level with the keyboard when your hands rest on the keys. Keep your feet close to the piano pedals (not under the seat) and avoid holidng tension in your arms, remembering to let your shoulders relax. Your hand should form a dome as if you’re loosely holding an apple. That is this best posture with which you can begin to play!

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What Is The Best Way To Practice Piano?

The first step is to make sure you have the right keyboard to practice on. We’ve included some guidance in the next section if you’re looking to purchase a piano, but not quite sure where to start.

Decide on your practice frequency. Then you want to decide on the best routine for you and your learning style. Some students find that going to the piano for a few minutes at a time with lots of breaks in between is great to allow their minds a chance to absorb their learning during the breaks, without getting overwhelmed. Others find that choosing a 30-minute window and practice during that time on a daily basis is preferable for them. Still, more serious pianists may practice for much longer periods.

In the beginning, divide whatever song you are learning into small sections, and learn them section by section. Master each one slowly. As you improve, you can work on longer sections. Also learn to separate your hands: Learn each hands’ movement separately, before trying to play them together at the same time. Learning just one hand is often quite enough to start with!

And remember: If your mind, your fingers, or your wrists get tired, give it a rests and come back to it later.

3. BUYING A PIANO

How Does A Piano Work?

The machinery inside a piano is fascinating. With each key press, a hammer is triggered to strike a long metal string inside the piano. The vibration from the string then reflects off the internal wooden soundboard, producing a rich and broad spectrum of frequencies and sounds. Some find it easy to learn the piano at first, and while most others find because you must play with two hands at the same time, it can be more challenging than other instruments. But this is why learning piano is so wonderful – it teaches creativity, dexterity, intelligence, focus, and multi-tasking -all at the same time! All of these are powerful skills that become extraordinarily helpful in adulthood,

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What Kind Of Piano Should I Buy?

There are many different kinds of pianos that you can look into purchasing if you don’t have one already. They range from very affordable all the way to top of the line “Rolls Royce” of pianos. What kind of piano is best for your needs really depends on your budget, your commitment level, and your goals

You don’t necessarily need a full acoustic piano to start learning the instrument. Many decide to start with more cost and space efficient digital keyboards to get the basic finger movements and musical understanding in place, and time to demonstrate a more long-term interest in the piano, before making an investment of time and money in the purchase of a real acoustic. However, it’s worth remembering that only real pianos can give you the authentic experience of piano playing for the most enjoyable and rich learning experience. However, at midtown Toronto location, we offer a mix of acoustic and digital pianos for our award-winning piano lessons.

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Starter Keyboards: Small, Lightweight Digital Pianos

If you’re just starting out, and not 100% sure if it’s the perfect instrument for you, and/or you don’t have much experience yet, we might suggest starting with a very inexpensive small, portable and lightweight digital keyboard (with full-size keys), with 3 or 4 octaves of keys (means you see the same pattern of notes repeat 3 or 4 times all the way up the keyboard) that will help you get accustomed to the correct fingerings and exercises, without breaking your bank account. You can usually purchase these keyboards including keyboard stand, one sustain pedal, bench and music sheet holder for sometimes less than $100 on Amazon. This is a great way to get started quickly and easily. And if you decide to upgrade, you can easily pass this keyboard to anyone you know that also might be thinking about starting piano lessons.

Toronto Arts Academy Piano student playing piano

Full-Size Weighted-Keys Digital Pianos

If you’re a few months into your piano lessons, or if you really start falling in love with the magic of the piano and think you might be sticking to lessons for a year or more, then you may want to consider getting just a little bit closer to the real experience with a weighted-keys digital piano. While still not a real acoustic piano, a weighted-keys digital piano means that the keys on the keyboard are not lightweight as above, but weighted so the feel of pressing down on a key more closely resembles the same action on a real piano with heavier wooden keys. Practicing on this kind of digital piano will help train your fingers to adapt to the keypress action of a real piano, like what we have in our music schools when you take piano lessons with us! Keyboards with weighted keys will typically start around $600-$1000 for keyboards with a key range anywhere from 61 keys, or 5 octaves, to the full 88-key keyboards, the length of a real piano, which stretches out to about 8 octaves. Some other things to keep in mind when purchasing this kind of digital piano is whether or not you want to keep it simple with just a few different digital piano sounds on the piano, or if you are interested in exploring more varied sounds like strings, organs, and other sampled sounds, or even if you might enjoy editing or creating different sounds, which can be a lot of fun if you are into exploring and composing music.

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Acoustic Upright Pianos

While digital pianos have a lot to offer, nothing quite beats the majestic feel of a real, acoustic piano. While the downside of a real piano is that they are not portable like digital pianos, a real piano uses real hammers hitting real strings, creating rich vibrations that will permeate with much more warmth, depth, and colour than a digital piano. Upright pianos are the best place to start. The strings in an upright lie vertically behind the piano stretching up and down to the floor. Uprights are more affordable than grand pianos (where the strings are laid out horizontally stretching away from the keyboard). Upright pianos are often much more affordable than grand pianos, and are a better fit for most homes with smaller spaces. Purchasing an upright piano brand new is the best options which could cost you anywhere from $4000 and up. Many choose to buy an upright piano used, as they are often significantly cheaper. Be warned, however, that getting a good quality used piano can be very difficult, as so many used pianos have mechanical issues and wear and tear that affect their usefulness and playability. We would suggest taking a piano tuner with you who has lots of experience working with acoustic pianos to look at any used piano you’re considering buying before purchasing one. There are so many components inside a piano that it is very easy to purchase a used piano that won’t play well in the long run, and could ruin your enjoyment of learning to play. Invest in a piano tuner or piano technicians time to go and look at used pianos with you. You’ll be glad you did!

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Baby Grand & Full Grand Pianos

If you have been playing piano for some time, or you know that you just simply cannot go on without having the beauty of a real grand piano in your life, believe us when we say we understand! Playing a grand piano is a beautiful experience that has no other comparison. Grand pianos alone contain the most authentic and purely musical experience out of any other instrument. The strings are fully laid out with no impedance to their vibration. A grand piano does require considerably more space in your home than an upright, so you’ll need to make sure you have sufficient space for it. You may also want to invest in a piano humidifier to keep the wood in great condition for the long run. Grand pianos can cost anywhere from $5000 and up, depending on the size of the piano. They can range in size from the smallest – around 5’ long, all the way up to concert grands which run a full, nearly 10 feet long! Just imagine enjoying playing that in your home!

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