Whether it starts with strumming on dad’s guitar in the summer holidays or tapping out a few notes on the family keyboard, many of us have memories of picking up an instrument in our youth, not really knowing what to do with it, but having fun nonetheless. Some of us were lucky enough to be taught by a friend or family member, while others had to learn what we could through books, and trial and error.
Fast forward to today, and the option for learning to play an instrument are far greater in number and infinitely more accessible. While back in the pre-internet era your chances of being taught to play the piano rested mainly on the shoulders of a school teacher or private tutor, the exponential growth in the world wide web has brought with it new ways to learn these skills. From online Skype tutors to virtual teachers and ‘follow along’ apps, there are plenty of ways to learn, and for instruments such as the piano, some of these ways have never been possible before.
If you want to learn to play the piano, the quicker you learn the basics, the better. The best thing about online piano tutorials is that they can guide you in ways that even a real-life tutor can’t. For example, some of these services use a “guitar hero-esque” approach, where above a virtual keyboard, coloured squares scroll vertically down on to each key. This can feel much more natural than either trying to read tradition piano sheet music or having a tutor showing you the order in which to hit the keys and asking you to remember the sequence. As a key is meant to be pressed, a coloured bar appears over that particular key, and only disappears when you should take your finger off the key. No need to know how to actually read music, or even understand how each note differ. Simply press the key that you are told to. You will still learn the different chords, notes and tempos, but the emphasis at the start of your programme will very much be on getting those fingers of yours to move across a keyboard quickly and accurately.
Face to face is still an option
For those of you who prefer the human touch, there are options available to placate your needs. Skype-tutors, of which there are huge amounts, will tutor you from afar, critiquing your style and ability as they show you where you have been going wrong. While this can be a daunting idea for some people, others enjoy having someone watching over their shoulder (or through their webcam, rather), helping them identify their issues. This way of learning is great for those who are already at a ‘certain level’, but have found that they have hit a natural wall in their progress, and require an expert eye to help them get over a particular hurdle. That being said, there are still tutors that can help absolute beginners as well as advanced players.
Endless videos to learn from
Finally, for those of you who have mastered the basics, have no interest in tutors, but wish to learn how to play more songs, Youtube is a veritable sea of tutorial videos that can help the budding pianist learn where they are going wrong. While you will obviously have no tutor helping you, or piano app pointing you towards which key to press, you still may find that watching someone play the part of the song you are having trouble with can help you work out where you were going wrong. There are also plenty of so-called ‘Youtube tutors’ out there, but the lessons are obviously a one-way conversation, so in general, it is more difficult to learn this way.
Whichever approach you take, learning to play the piano has never been easier. If one tactic doesn’t work for you, then you can simply try another. With a little effort and dedication, you can learn a new skill in a way that suits you the most. And it isn't just the piano that can be learned this way. From guitars to flutes, drums to violins, you can find lessons, apps or tutors for pretty much any instrument out there.
This is also another great boon of learning online; you can learn to play instruments that aren’t exactly ‘typical’ in your area. Go back twenty years, and it may not have been very easy to learn to play the Sitar while living in rural Scotland, but now, if no sitar teacher can be found, you can simply find one online, or download an app, and get learning. If you have been planning on learning to play an instrument but have been putting it off due to time restrictions, or a lack of motivation, there really isn’t a better time to start. With so many options available, your excuses are getting a little few and far between.