PLAYING THE PIANO BACK IN THE DAY
As ubiquitous as after-school sports or dance classes, piano lessons are part of nearly everyone’s childhood. While music is undoubtedly a fantastic thing to learn, life can sometimes get in the way of further development.
As a child, there’s the thrill of more active pursuits or adventures outdoors. As a teenager and young adult there’s studies and socialising. And by the time we’ve finished university or started working full time, there’s partners, bills, children, bills, pets, bills…
All of this can leave little time for music, but if we have a passion for playing piano, it’s something that stays with us forever. We enjoy playing, we can express ourselves and we can provide entertainment to our friends and family. We’re the ones who bring music to special family events, formal occasions, parties and gatherings.
Sometimes, an early experience with a teacher who isn’t the most patient, sympathetic or is overly disciplinary can mar our progress. It can even discourage us from continuing to learn. However, there’s no reason why a bad experience should impede our passion for learning or playing.
There’s no need to stress for exams anymore, because the key factor to taking up piano again is for fun. Of course, the option to pursue studies more actively is there if we want it, but is certainly not crucial to our playing.
If you learnt piano as a child or have played sporadically over the years, you might not be aware of how drastically things have changed for learning.
THE TIMES, THEY HAVE A’CHANGED
No longer do we need to cart around piles of sheet music or instructional books. No longer do we need to worry about the pressure of exams that seemed so daunting when we were first learning. No longer do we even need an actual piano!
We can play at our own pace, learn in our own home and manage our own time to pursue our passion for playing. Even playing for 10 minutes a day can produce noticeable results.
Technology has offered us some fantastic innovations for learning and playing the piano. Digital sheet music allows thousands of books, scores, pieces and notes to be stored on a tablet, smartphone or laptop.
Affordable digital keyboards and pianos have developed far beyond the dubious sounding machines of yesteryear. Learning (or relearning) piano has never been easier, or more importantly, more fun than right now.
TINKLING THE DIGITS
The first place to start when we decide to start playing piano again is of course at the instrument itself. But let’s consider pianos for a moment. Without a doubt, they are a timeless, beautiful sounding and versatile instrument.
On them, we can play classical pieces by the great composers, smooth and cool jazz, emotive ballads and so much more. They have a rich, full sound and a very wide range to play on. Aesthetically, a piano is also a nice addition to a home. Depending on the model, they can provide a certain elegant, nostalgic feel or a stylish, contemporary vibe.
However, acoustic pianos are not the most portable of instruments. Once they’re moved somewhere, that’s essentially where they have to stay. They can be quite loud too, even when using a soft pedal, which can become an issue for others in the house or the neighbours. Maintenance is also a factor, as we all know that an out of tune piano is akin to nails on a chalkboard.
Here’s where digital pianos can assist. Taking the best parts of what makes a piano appealing and discarding the less desirable aspects, a classy digital piano is the ideal accompaniment to the modern living space.
Intrusive volume isn’t an issue on digital pianos. Built in speaker systems offer warm, enveloping sound to be set at any level you desire. A headphone connection allows for personal, externally silent playing, while also providing natural, realistic sound with plenty of ambience.
APPLIED PIANO LEARNING
Of course, simply diving right back into playing isn’t always easy. Finger strength and dexterity can be an issue if you haven’t played for some time. But because digital pianos typically offer variable key touch settings, you can adjust exactly how hard or effortlessly you want to play.
Digital Pianos can also connect to tablets and smartphones via Bluetooth and USB, so we can use apps to assist us. Certain apps, such as Piano Partner 2, allow intuitive learning, whereby the app will play the right or left hand of a piece, while you play the other hand.
Combined with optional speed control, a built in metronome and automatic page turning, learning the piece with independent hands can allow a very helpful transition into playing it with both hands.
Free apps like PiaScore offer free sheet music, as well as the option to preview pieces of music and linking directly to YouTube clips of performances, enabling you to watch a piece being played.
Some digital pianos with built in speakers also have the option to record your playing, allowing you to hear mistakes. They can also play your favourite songs, allowing you join in or simply to listen to as you would a home stereo system!