Learning piano despite your busy lifestyle

Playing piano is a great way to relax after a busy day, but what about when life seems just too busy for learning to play. Let us show you how you can learn to play regardless of how busy your life is right now, and best of all, it only takes 15 minutes a day.

Learning is Accumulative.

This applies to both mental AND muscle memory. The more time you spend working on a piano run, the more likely you are to remember how to play it – simple right!

So if you don’t have a lot of time in your day to spend on playing the piano you need to set yourself a long term goal and chip away at it in smaller, incremental chunks.

Just like a savings plan – if you put away what you can save regularly you WILL eventually reach your goal. BUT, as soon as you stop or become irregular with your payments, your saving comes to a halt. The key here is to remain disciplined and consistently achieve your daily session no matter how small.

Quality not quantity of learning.

Quality is the key. If you are short on time you need to make sure that the time you do spend on learning the piano is spent productively. That means, everything you do in your practice session has to be purposeful and ultimately moves you closer towards your goal.

Some people spend hours messing about on their piano (which is great if you have the time) for only small gains. If you make your sessions a period of intense focus where you commit yourself to pushing your boundaries you will see good improvement.

Frequency is the key.

Do it daily is the rule. If even for just a few minutes per day. The beauty of a daily learning session is that you rarely ever forget where you are at. Like reading a book a few pages a day – as soon as you pick it up again you quickly recall where you were yesterday and push on.

Just like reading a book, if you skip a day or two you’ll find it becomes much harder to pick up where you left off and hence your progress is slower.

Our lifestyles are becoming increasingly hectic. Everyone is juggling: family, work, study, kids, holiday, home improvements, health and fitness. The key to adding learning the piano to the mix and not throwing everything out of balance is to start small – 15 minutes a day is all it takes.

The 15 minute practice session.

It sounds incredible doesn’t it – ‘learn piano in 15 minutes a day’. Well, it is incredible. But let’s be straight about this – one 15 minute session won’t produce anything particularly mind blowing by itself.

The key is in the frequency. If you keep it up, 15 minutes a day will produce great results over time. So how do you do it? Well, its actually very simple – you segment your time into 3 distinct 5 minute blocks of time.

1. ‘Warm Up’ – 5 minutes to take what you learned in your last session and practice playing it. This reinforces what you’ve already learned and gets you warm.

2. ‘New concept’ – 5 minutes to study the next concept so you understand it and the fundamental requirements to play it. For example: if it were a new chord you would need to familiarize yourself with the shape and the notes within it.

3. ‘Practice’ – 5 minutes to take the new concept and apply it in practical way. For example: a new chord would be played in a progression.

If you structure your lessons like this you will be able to maximize your limited time by making it easy to pick up where you left off. Of course, you can apply the same format to longer sessions if you have the time.

Maximize your time with a learning plan.

Of course, having a learning plan, or a course of study is absolutely necessary if you want your learning time to be effective and efficient. Without it you will find yourself wading through piles and piles of information, both good and bad, wasting hours and hours of valuable learning time.

With a course of study you know where you are headed and how you are going to get there, so it’s not a problem when you need to end the session, because you can come back to it at any time and resume where you left off.

It is especially important when time is short and you can only spare a few minutes each day – that’s when you need the focus that comes from a prescribed course. If you haven’t already picked up a good course then you should definitely check out Rocket Piano.

Start adding 15 minute practice sessions to your day and see the results.

Posted by Jon Coursey

What’s a MIDI keyboard?

I wanted to introduce you to MIDI because of the sheer amount of possibilities they can bring to your playing and composing. I am sure you’ve probably heard this term or seen or heard a MIDI keyboard in action. If you do own a MIDI keyboard, good on ya´. MIDI keyboards or MIDI controllers are great to work with and they are very helpful when it comes to learning to play the piano, especially with all the software and applications that are becoming more and more available these days.

For those of you who have no clue about what a MIDI keyboard is, I think it’s very important to get involved with it, or at least to understand the basics of what you can do with one. We are living in a modern era, where everything is doable through little more than a computer and a controller.

MIDI is short for “Musical Instrument Digital Interface”. A MIDI gadget basically allows you to connect to a computer and allow the two to interact with one another. Software or a device is needed to get whatever you are looking for. It could be a music training software, music production software or simply great quality sounds and samples to play or practice with.

I don’t want to get bogged down in terminology, but for those that are interested in the more technical aspects, check out Wikipedia’s wave.

A MIDI controller offers you a plethora of sound options, synthetic or analog, and even sounds you’ve never heard before. Are you after some nice Rhodes sound? You got it; or perhaps you are after some Organ sounds; No problem. Or maybe after some crazy soundscapes or modern synthesizer sounds? They’re all available if you have the time to search for them.

If you are into learning piano, and also exploring new sounds, getting creative with your music once you have a reasonable grasp on piano theory, is something you can do with a MIDI keyboard. There are plenty of options around, for all budgets and for all technical skills and needs too.

There are 3 things you need to get started:

1. A medium to high performance computer – to be able to support any software you need. 2GB RAM and 500GB Hard drive should do…
2. A music production software or learning software – depending what you are into.
3. A MIDI Keyboard – Plenty of options.

Now, I’m sure you already have a computer, maybe not the music production software but there are many brands doing amazing stuff. My favorites? Ableton and Reason, for two reasons: They are very simple and easy to use with great quality sounds.

What MIDI controller or keyboard to buy? Pfff… there’s a whole blog post in itself, however M-Audio, Akai, Korg and Alesis are brands that have many options available from $100 bucks upwards, cheap as + amazing quality!

If this is an unknown field for you, don’t worry and please don’t be scared. MIDI keyboards are super friendly, what could be more challenging is the software you use with the keyboard, but again, the Internet can sometimes save your life and there are many tutorials around for every possible software.

I highly recommend you have a look into MIDI keyboards and software, they really are something! I did it myself about a year or so ago and I am always surprised of how powerful these tools are. I am a drummer and my piano skills are less than a beginner, I know some basic chords and some progressions but let me tell you that I have made some good beats and atmospheres with my little knowledge… I need to get back to my Rocket Piano lessons though!

What do I have? I have a very old M-Audio Keystation Mini with 32 keys but I am after a Korg MicroKey. Software wise I use Reason for composing and Cubase for producing the finished product. Again, I highly recommend you to get into this, do some research online on MIDI keyboards you will be surprised how many options there are and how cheap can be.

I might have a deeper look into newer MIDI Keyboards and make a blog post about them in the coming weeks, what is good and what is not.

WARNING: having a MIDI keyboard with music production software is addictive as you are always coming up with something new and you won’t want to leave your room or even sleep. For those of you who live in the Southern Hemisphere it might be a good time to get into it now. It’s said that the brain works better when it’s cold…

All the best with your learning!