6 Costly mistakes piano learners make

How to avoid them?

How can you improve your playing? Or even better, how can you see your improvement?
We all know that practice makes perfect, we also know that to improve your playing you need to work hard, practice everyday and be passionate about your instrument and music, but there is always something missing, isn’t it? It is very easy for us to get frustrated for not being able to play what we want or for not being fast enough with our improvement, sometimes we even feel angry with ourselves and again, wanting to quit everything – I am sure you have been there, perhaps you are there at the moment… I have and I know that there are a few “mistakes” that cause this frustration on every pianist.

Ineffective piano lessons/teachers. There are good teachers but there are heaps of bad ones. Being a great pianist doesn’t always make a great teacher. Teaching is something different, it is a like a gift that not many good pianists have. Being able to teach requires preparation and perception of what’s needed to help others learning the guitar. Having the wrong learning method or the wrong teacher can be very frustrating and of course, very expensive too. So you have to make sure you have the right learning plan/method or that your piano tutor is prepared and/or trained to teach.

Not knowing where you want to go, what you want to play. This is as simple as knowing what you wanna have for dinner. You must know what you want to learn so you or your piano tutor can develop a specific and effective pianoroutine – don’t be general, be specific. This step is also constantly changing, for example, your goal for Xmas would be to improve your speed or learning scales. You’ll find that if you focus on that and create a routine to work on it, you will be much more likely to reach your goal of learning scales. Xmas is here and you got your scales, excellent! What’s next is up to you.

Learning from too many different sources. Youtube, books, cds, dvds, tutors, you name it… there are tons of learning resources these days. When I started learning there was only Books and VHS, that was it! Now you have heaps of stuff to learn from, but is this good? I don’t think that is always the case! It is good to have options to choose from, but is not good if you are using as many resources as you can access. It’s far better to get one or two different sources to learn from and stick with those. Information is huge and too much of it won’t help you improve at all. Buy a piano course if you want and then reinforce it with a tutor, or learn from Youtube videos but create a learning system, which goes back to the second point.

Focusing on the wrong things. Invest in your piano practice wisely focusing on things that matter and on things that will make you a better pianist. I know it is cool to listen a piano riff from your favorite band and wanting to nail it, but this will take you at least a day to learn, will it improve your playing? Not really; it might give you something superficial but nothing to really help you improve your playing moving forward, like a new technique or theory, scales, etc. So really, only focus on things you need to learn according to improve your playing.

Focusing on the right things but in the wrong order. Learning things in the wrong order will only cause frustration and of course, it is a waste of your time. How have you got to the point where you are now with your piano playing? Step by step? What did you learn first? Perhaps the parts of the piano, names of the keys, fingering positions, etc. Now that you are at a more advanced level, learning process and order still remains… it probably requires a more in-depth look depending on what you want to learn but keep in mind that there is always an order when learning things.

Not Isolating problem areas. A very important question to ask is what is holding you back? I am sure you know it and perhaps you ignore it, well, it’s time to tackle it head on. You have to focus on what your playing is lacking. Find out what is currently more difficult for you and practice it over and over again to improve that and convert it from a problematic area into an under control situation.

Good luck with this and let us know how you get on!

Yamaha PSR-E423

…One of the best options for Beginners!

Our blog post on “New or used pianos” has created intrigue about what to get. We have received a number of emails from our readers asking what the best option is for a beginner when it comes to buying a portable keyboard.

Which keyboard brands do you know? I am pretty sure you’ll say Yamaha or maybe Casio. Both have been in the market for ages and they have a big range of keyboards which can cater to the needs of a wide range of keyboard players. However, if you compare entry-mid level keyboards of both brands, Yamaha is the winner, not only because of its build quality, but because of its sound. Yamaha might be a bit more expensive, but as the saying goes; “You get what you pay for” and that’s certainly the case with keyboards.

Anyway, for those beginners out there, I want to say that Yamaha has top class sound quality keyboards loaded with the best features in the market. Again, they might be more expensive than other similar brands but it’s not just the brand name you’re paying for, but also high quality sound. The sound samples are always spot on and believe it or not, the built-in speakers always do a great job handling the high and low frequencies giving you an all round pleasant sound experience.

Another great thing about the Yamaha Keyboards on the Beginner level is what they call Y.E.S. (Yamaha Education Suite) which are basically music lessons to help you improve your piano skills. Now, I have to admit, I’m not sure about the quality as I have never tried them but if their keyboards are anything to go by, they’ll be great.

So, what are some good options from the Yamaha range? I would have to say any keyboard from their YPT to their PSR series will be a winner. A personal favorite is definitely the PSR-E423 in their portable series.

This keyboard was brought to the market back in 2010 and it has been on top of “what to buy”.

The main features on this keyboard are the synthesizer control knobs for real time control of effects, sounds, tempo and styles. The arpeggiator comes with 40 different voices and of course a perfect pitch bend. And probably the best thing, well at least the first thing you will notice, is its stunningly good looks. A black body which gives it a really cool, modern look and is different from the rest.

What about the voices? This keyboard has 700 varieties that goes from nylon guitar, electric piano, acoustic piano, church organ, vocal ensemble, clean guitar, distorted guitar and 693 more! All of them with a very high quality sound and even better when played through its 2-way speakers, believe me these speakers can hold those bassy notes.

The PSR-E423 even comes with a “world music” band to play with – the keyboard has 174 varieties of styles. Do you feel like playing some chill out music, simply put it on backing mode and play an Indian rhythm with tablas, select a sitar voice and done! You will be able to go to any place in the world with this “backing mode”. Feeling latin tonight? Play some salsa or Merengue and you will get your family dancing in the lounge!

What about effects? I’m glad you asked. There are 9 different types of Reverb; 4 types of Chorus and 150 types of arpeggios, your piano playing will go to a different level with this toy from Yamaha don´t you think?

Nowadays every keyboard has connectivity to a PC, this is no exception. You can connect this machine via USB and transfer your favorite tracks into the keyboard and play along with them. Extended flash memory is also included.

This keyboard might look complex, it looks like one of those modern synthesizers, however it is very simple to use. Iit has a very intuitive interface, and of course reading the manual never hurts. Remember that this keyboard as well as any other Yamaha comes with the Y.E.S. learning system.

This keyboard is packed with great things, especially at this price. I would highly recommend this as an ideal first keyboard, especially for those young kids (but not too young) who are wanting to do more than just play piano, but even get into music production.

Check it out:

My verdict: It is a sexy keyboard, it is not expensive at all for what you get and it really looks, feels and sounds as “pro” as any of those modern synthesizers in the market. Definitely a great keyboard to start with and to expand your mind into the amazing world of piano playing! You definitely won’t need anything else.