I started learning piano after I turned 50. It’s been less than two years now. In between, my daughter went to college in US, I lost my parents to cancer in July 2017 and August 2018, and moved across the large country of India (from Mumbai to Kolkata). In spite of all these obstacles, my heart is still with those magical black and white keys. However, my learning has been stunted because of all of these.

But the bigger challenge has been to find a good tutor, meeting my knowledge & interest in various genres, age, pace of learning, location (home or class) etc. Piano is not an Indian instrument. Nor is western classical or jazz/ blues as popular in India as they are in China/ Japan/ SE Asia. This is because, India has a well developed and venerated classical music genre, and a popular music oeuvre based on that, and thus music tutors and academies in Indian music of various quality and cost are widely available. But not for piano. Thus it’s been difficult for me to find a good Piano tutor, who will come home, spend adequate time, pay attention, share my interest in music, and provide the lessons / guidance accordingly.

On the other hand, the Web has made access to knowledge and instructions much easy. I have a feeling that judiciously chosen, between instructional youtube videos, books, and perhaps a learning app, one can take on the learning journey.

However, I am not very sure about exactly the path to take. About what to learn when, how to progress, how to get feedback, when to branch out in a genre (classical/jazz/popular) etc. (I know a fair bit of theory and can call myself a late beginner in playing).

So, I ask, what would be a good/ ideal/ optimum method of self-learning piano, given all the internet resources available?

  • 2
    Side note, I live in America, and can't find a sarangi teacher at all. So finding teachers of instruments that are not popular in our regions seems to be a world-wide problem. I never knew that piano was not popular in India. Aug 24, 2018 at 14:42

3 Answers 3


Skype (or similar) lessons with a flesh and blood music teacher. Though you'll probably miss out on some of the benefits that having someone literally look over your shoulder to detect and correct problems, the best route is still to hook up with a personal teacher.


There are various aspects of piano playing you need to be familiar with. As a beginner, start with focussing on your technique. Watch YouTube videos about hand and finger position for piano playing. Your wrist has to be loose and fingertips firm but relaxed. Start by doing simple exercises to train your fingers to move evenly and steadily. Try the finger exercises by Hanon.

Once your technique is in place, consider learning how to read notes. Get hold of a sight-reading book for beginners. You have to be very patient because it will take time and daily practice to become agile with your reading.

I would not be tempted to learn pieces using Synthesia. While you may learn a song fast, you won't learn any theory or notation.


It depends on the sound and skills you want to achieve. I wanted to play any song by ear.

I'll give you my practice:

I don't like meeting up with teachers. The only theory I get is from youtube and this site. I play well known songs by ear like anthems, pop songs, folk songs, rock songs, christmas songs and I play them in all keys. I like to see the piano as an extension of whistling/humming. I do this more often than practicing scales (altho I still practice scales) but I find that if you just practice scales you limit yourself to the sound of minor second and major second intervals whereas in actual songs you have a much more random range of intervals. And because the piano is uneven, by doing the same song in different keys you'll figure out the sound of the same interval but in different combinations on the keyboard.

What you're really trying to do is build muscle memory where you know the sound of every single interval. The more I do this (and I've been doing this now for roughly 2 years), the less mistakes I make to the point where I can play a new fairly basic song in any key. Any song that I can think of. Well except maybe a really hard song by Chopin or Liszt, but any song off the radio.

So my homework for you: take an easy song and try to play it by ear. Start with songs in a major key. So Mary had a little lamb in C major for example. Just play the melody. Now play it in D major. Now in all keys. Now go back and add harmony (chords) to it with your left hand (this would require you to know some theory like diatonic chords. start with I,IV,V. then add the other chords ii,iii,vi for more complicated songs) work your way up to songs -and these are just examples- like Happy Birthday, My Country Tis of Thee, Greensleeves (this is in a minor key), Scarborough Fair (Dorian mode) or anything you like off the radio. On top of your piano just have a list of songs you'd like to play. But do not look at sheet music. Just play them by ear and with some theory of chords and scales.

However, my method would not work for someone trying to work in an orchestra, or trying to attend academia, where reading sheet music is required. So as mentioned, really define what you want ahead of time.

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