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I am 26 years old and am learning the piano on my own. I haven't started to learn sheet music yet. The way I practice is by looking at videos of other people teaching how to play piano songs.

At first, I found it difficult to play with both hands, however gradually over time, this is becoming easier.

My current problem is that I notice my rhythm / rests isn't good, the songs I learn from video, I find it difficult to play in rhythm. I can't think myself of a technique I can use, but I assume it would involve counting in my head, while I'm playing.
And also I find it sometimes hard to find out how long to keep a note pressed, since in the videos it isn't really clear sometimes, I usually start counting how long they press them, to get an idea.

What can I do to get better at rhythm and also is this way of learning Piano bad? I do plan to get lessons at end of this year, but I thought I practice on my own for now.

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  • Have you tried using a metronome? – Annie Jan 8 at 13:37
  • No, I haven't used a metronome yet. – O S Jan 8 at 13:38
  • That might help – Annie Jan 8 at 13:39
  • What kind of videos? How are they "teaching"? I usually discourage learning from video tutorials (about any subject), as they often are too generic and unreliable, and for performing arts that's even worst, as teaching those subjects should be normally tailored on the students. Then, keeping track of the duration of notes can be tricky: unlike other instruments, piano has not a constant sustain, and sometimes it's not possible to hear when a note actually ends; start by focusing more on the actual rhythm ("when the note should be played"), play along with the video and then on your own. – musicamante Jan 8 at 15:57
  • Just to be sure: when you say "I usually start counting how long they press them", what do you use as a reference for your counting? Also, as already said in an answer, if you want to count while playing, count out loud. Counting in your head is not the same thing, especially if you're a beginner. – musicamante Jan 8 at 15:58
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Answering your last question first. It can be bad. As a beginner, you won't have much idea of the quality of lessons, and when you come unstuck, there's no-one to ask at that moment, as there will be with a real live teacher.

As far as rhythm is concerned, the first port of call is usually a metronome - particularly one which doesn't just click, but can ping on the first beat of each bar. A visual helps too, so if it flashes as well, what a bonus!

A lot of us find the metronome very boring to play to, and a way round this is to use drum tracks. Drum machines aren't dear now, and you could probably pick up a pre-loved electronic keyboard with drums on for a drink or two.

Counting internally is essential for any muso, so utilising body movements is encouraged. Nod head, tap foot, shrug shoulders, anything which will help to keep all of you in time. Being able to keep a steady rhythm is also important, and a trick here is to listen to some music, get the beat going, turn down the volume, and hear how well you have kept the beat when you turn it up again.

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I assume it would involve counting in my head, while I'm playing.

Count out loud while playing. Make sure you count beats correctly for the meter. Basically, if the meter is common time 4/4, count "1 2 3 4" on the quarter note beats. If counting shorter rhythms like eight notes count `"1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and ". The beat gets the number count. Look up some videos or articles about meter and counting.

A metronome is good too.

I find it sometimes hard to find out how long to keep a note pressed, since in the videos it isn't really clear...

Those video are probably various piano rolls or scrolling graphics, right? Colorful sparkles, bubbles popping, etc. etc.

Those aren't music notation, it's eye candy. I know a lot of people use them to learn music, but you are pointing out one of the problems, rhythm isn't given precisely.

Lot's of people are intimidated by staff notation. Admittedly it does take a lot of training to read well. But in regard to rhythm particularly proper staff notation works well. Barlines, note grouping, visual spacing, etc. make a lot of rhythms fairly easy to read.

You can use material like this...

That will help with counting aloud and reading notation generally.

Then you can either go back to the piano videos with better coordination. Or, if you get comfortable with notation, you can start reading sheet music for songs.

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  • "Count out loud while playing." Yes, absolutely. People (even some musicians) don't realize how hard is to be able to accurately keep track of time only in your head. The usual response is "but I'm doing in my head, that's the same". – musicamante Jan 8 at 15:48
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Disclaimer: I'm neither a qualified piano teacher nor to good of a player. I'm just someone who had a few years of classical piano lessons and also struggled with building a sense of rhythm.

Here are two things that helped me improve:

The first thing to try is to play with a metronome. But don't force yourself to play everything with the metronome. Only turn it on for exercises or pieces that are simple enough that you don't have to think what or how to play. Ideally pick a sufficiently shot repeating pattern, like immitating a kick-snare drum pattern with a bass note in the left hand and a chord in the right (keep the chord progression as simple as necessary). This way you can make sure to focus on your rhythm and your rhythm only. Also, don't worry about making mistakes. Just try to keep rhythm.

While the metronome works for many people, it only got me so far. When I tried jamming with some friends in a rock/jazz context, I realized that I still had considerable trouble keeping a straight rhythm. Around the same time I had bought a midi 4x4 pad controller and I tried to learn a bit of finger drumming. As it turns out, practicing finger drumming really helped rectify my unevenness in piano playing. I can only recommend it, especially if you're planning to play in a band.

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