So as you could see from the title, I learn the piano by myself? Why? A teacher is much more effective, right? Well, that is true, however; I do not have the money for a teacher, and this way, it is more of a challenge. Ok this part will be a bit long, so maybe that the reader will understand where I am coming from.

So I started around a year and a half ago, and I think everything about my technique is fine-ish except expression and maybe timing and melody. What do you recommend are songs that I practice? Maybe grade 5-8, no more please. I can play arabesque no.1 decently well, even though I sound like a machine, as my pedaling and expression is bad. Humoresque is played fine, but that's just because I listened to it a lot. That's the worst part, I know what I am playing wrong, but I can't fix it, especially in Debussy songs.First half of nocturne no.2 in e flat major is fine, except again, tempo and maybe rubato are not there yet. Second half is pretty bad. My left hand is semi-decent, but it flops when it comes to melodies. So what are good songs that help in practicing timing, especially 3 v 4, and maybe improve my expressions, especially rubato. Since I am learning Debussy right now, I need my technique to be on point, so that I can bring out the notes. All my scales, arpeggios, and chords, dominant 7ths... etc are fine. So, just to cover it again: I am bad at playing left hand melodies, at giving pieces life or making them sound interesting, and with timing.

Any tips for a song that sounds pleasing and covers a large array of techniques , would be extremely appreciated. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME!!! :)

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    You are far more likely to pick up bad habits without a teacher. Violin and piano has a very much right and wrong approach to technique. You will almost certainly pick up bad habits and will only discover them when you are a fair way into your training and when they would be very difficult to reverse. – Neil Meyer Nov 22 '15 at 7:44
  • What would be a possible bad habit? – Michael Nov 22 '15 at 15:23
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    There are many bad habits you could pick up: playing with tension, awkward wrist movements, not playing notes of chords simultaneously, lifting fingers too high (at times), overuse of pedals, stuttering (stopping and replaying a few notes when making a mistake), practising without a specific aim, wasting time practising pieces which are too difficult, sitting too high, sitting too low, poor choice of fingerings, holding notes too long, not holding notes long enough ... the list is almost endless! – Old John Nov 22 '15 at 16:22
  • What is wrong with practicing pieces that are too difficult? Doesn't that make you more accustomed to difficult rhythms ? – Michael Nov 22 '15 at 16:23
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    Practicing music that is above your current level is futile. – Neil Meyer Nov 22 '15 at 18:11

I'm afraid you are really asking the wrong question here, as there is no such thing as a list of pieces of music which will improve your technique. There are certainly pieces which would be of benefit if used intelligently and with the guidance of a good teacher, but without such benefits, even the best piano pieces and studies (I assume that when you say songs, you are not really talking about songs for voice and piano) are likely to result in more and more time spent practising and ingraining bad habits.

If it really is impossible for you to get some lessons, then there are a few things I can suggest, based on my experience (although I have an excellent teacher as well!):

Get hold of a book on piano technique such as The Foundations of Technique and read it very slowly, practising every detailed aspect of technique described, even though much of it will seem very easy compared to some of the pieces you say you are playing

Watch some Youtube videos of some excellent pianists playing some easy pieces and watch very carefully how they play and move their hands. I found videos of Zoltan Kocsis playing Bartok's "For Children" quite a revelation in terms of relaxed hands.

Work on easier pieces, such as the Bartok pieces, Schumann's Album for the Young and Bach's Anna Magdalena Notebook, and for every piece make sure you watch and listen very carefully to as many videos as you can find of excellent pianists performances - but be wary, as the Internet has many, many poor examples which are definitely not worth following!

  • What do you mean the way they move theirs hands? Like if they are moving slowly or quickly or how they push down? Are there times when the hand is not supposed to be relaxed? Should I take note of these times? Does studying theory help with any of this? – Michael Nov 22 '15 at 16:22
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    There are lots of aspects of hand-movement: thumb-under technique for scales, moving hands to a new position in anticipation of playing notes in new part of the keyboard, different types of staccato (finger/wrist/arm), etc. etc. The book I mentioned in the answer talks about all of these, as does an online book by Chuan C. Chang which might be useful (just Google "Chuan C. Chang"). – Old John Nov 22 '15 at 16:31

I must say this everywhere on this stackexchange, but Bach Inventions and Preludes & Fugues will help enormously with strengthening the independence of (both) hands. Try also playing Czerny, Moszkowski, and other composers who wrote technical etudes.


Your goal: improve the left hand's ability to play melodic figures.

How you can work on this: take some melodies you like, that are written for the right hand, and play them with the left hand. Sing it first, and then try to make it sound like that when you play it.

You might need to move your piano bench or stool over to the right a bit.


I would suggest Sibelius's own transcription of Finlandia for piano. It has left hand melodies plus lots of 16th notes in both hands. However, it is very long and hard so it might not be for your level.

Something a little simpler would be Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. You might want to pick out some of the simpler ones (Promenade and Ox-Cart) to work on since they do have left-hand melodies and the 2-over-3 and 3-over-4, howbeit few, patterns.

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