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How can I effectively learn how to play the piano if it is simply impossible for me to get a teacher?

I'm 17 years old, and I took it upon myself to learn the piano. However, I am not sure where to start, especially with regards to getting things 'right' (i.e. posture, etc.) and of course actually hitting the right keys and stuff.

My goal is to at least be a semi-competent (hobbyist) pianist.

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Learning piano without a competent teacher results in bad habits, and having bad habits is worse than having no habits. There are probably a few people who are self-taught and who can play medium-level compositions without making other people cringe, but I'm yet to meet one, or see one on youtube. I would just wait to save up money to get a teacher. – Mischa Arefiev Dec 13 '13 at 18:44
@MischaArefiev Its not so much about the money, but more so of locations and conditions I have that does not permit me to get a private teacher. – Secret Dec 15 '13 at 5:30
There are many great musicians who've learned to play piano by themselves without a teacher. Well, they didn't strive to become pianists but just innovative, creative musicians. – BadmintonCat Dec 18 '13 at 8:01
Of course you can become a physicist without going to college (otherwise there would be no physicists in the first place!) - it's just harder and will take longer (college is "standing on the shoulders of giants" etc.). Same for pianists or any other field of study. It'll be a lot harder, a lot of bad habits will result, but these can be overcome (or compensated for) with determination. – Jeffrey Kemp Aug 27 at 12:46

4 Answers 4

Effectively, you could learn piano by starting with the basics.

Piano Lessons

First, I would suggest learning the notes on the piano:

(1) (2) (3) (4)

Then learning the intervals:

(1) (2) (3)

Then learn some chords:

(1) (2) (3) (4)

After you've learned the notes, intervals and some basic chords, you'll be able to play some (simple) songs you might like. So, just look up for a song's music sheet (or tab).

For the correct posture, take a look at these:

(1) (2) (3)

Personally, I prefer books to learn music. That's not really necessary; you could learn online. But I would suggest getting a beginners book for piano. It might help you.

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Not sure how tab is going to help on piano. – Tim Dec 13 '13 at 12:37
For instance, when a song i being played in guitar pro (not the best software, I know),it offers you a small window with a virtual piano which shows you what keys to press. (This might not be exactly a tab, but I didn't know what else to call it). – Shevliaskovic Dec 13 '13 at 12:43
Yes, it's not a bad idea. Don't know what it's called either... – Tim Dec 13 '13 at 12:45
Wow. I think playing piano (even at the «semi-competent hobbyist» level) is 1% hitting the right keys and 99% everything else. – Mischa Arefiev Dec 13 '13 at 18:35
Well, you could define everything else in an answer – Shevliaskovic Dec 13 '13 at 18:39

You can use Learn and Master Piano lessions, which is very helpful for learning piano without any teacher and within a very less time. I am learning from it for last 7 months and found it very helpful.

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You can definitely learn by yourself. Note that you will need to have discipline to learn. You will need even more to learn alone.

Using someone else words: Piano is a very deep art. The fact that is polyphonic with all the scope of dynamics make it a complex machie to master. People spend a life studying piano.

If your goal is to play a couple of simple songs to amuse yourself and friends you will be able to do it.

Else I really advise looking for a teacher. You will progress a lot faster and you will avoid many pitfalls. A very important aspect of learning an instrument, sometimes negletected, is benchmarking. You can always do more, comparing yourself to others will give you the needed benchmark and inspiration to progress faster and do more. If you study alone you will make mistakes that you are not aware of and you wont be able to benchmark yourself.

The physical part of learning piano is about finger mechanics and getting practice with movements. If learned wrong from the beginning they will be a barrier for future learning. Note that scores omit a lot of information. Its assumed that the player knows it. Even learning it from videos or books will hardly be enough to play well. Concepts like rhythm are hard to learn just by looking at videos. Even worse only learning from a book.

This is probably not the answer you looked for. I totally encourage you to start for yourself if that is your wish, but if you decide otherwise look for a good teacher. Don’t rely only on price. An experienced teacher, with a solid background, can make you progress much more and avoid wrong habits and pitfalls.

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You can, but it'll be much harder. You'll pick up bad habits, but despite what people might say, you'd be better off getting experience and breaking bad habits later than not having the experience at all. If you can get a teacher, you should, even if you only see them monthly. If you can't don't be put off pursuing your what you want to do. If you have any friends that play piano, try to get help from them.

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