How did you get into playing the piano

The 5 most common bad habits in playing and practicing the piano

Playing techniques for beginners and advanced players
by Dirk Heilmann,
(Image: Florian Huber)

Again and again there are things that fresh musicians unconsciously acquire and which then have unpleasant effects on your playing in the later musical life or, in the worst case, lead you into a musical dead end. But even advanced musicians are affected again and again. The result is not getting any further and frustration. And once bad quirks have taken hold, they are really difficult to get rid of. Therefore the simple rule applies: Better to do it right!

Even if this is often one more thing that you have to pay attention to at the beginning and thus makes the whole learning one step more complicated, I can promise you: the effort will be worth it.

In any case, let your teacher and another experienced musician keep you entertained while playing look at the hands. It is simply in human nature that one more or less deliberately overlooks one's own mistakes. Many things can also be judged better as an outsider. For example, you can only feel your posture at the piano yourself. But how does the right posture feel? An outsider also perceives things very differently than you, who have already played and heard a song 800 times in the same way. Especially in terms of articulation and nuances, direct suggestions from an experienced, critical teacher cannot be replaced by anything.

In any case, these tips cannot or should not replace a teacher! Rather, they should remind you to keep repeating your own Check habits.

By the way: every teacher should give tips on the right practice, musical articulation, body and hand posture on their own initiative. If he doesn't, he might be a cool teacher, but not necessarily a good one.

1. How do I sit properly at the piano?

It's not only better for your back, it also looks better than a wet sack in front of the piano. The graphic (from the book Guaranteed Piano Learning by Alfred Music) shows the essential points that should be observed when sitting correctly.

A keyboard or stage piano can be easily adjusted in height. It's more complicated with a real piano. Apart from the piano bench, which is usually adjustable in height, there are also other tricks: If you are particularly small, you can put a thick board (2.3 cm makes a difference) in front of the pedal for your right foot lay. Try it out and see if you can use the pedals more comfortably. If you are particularly tall, there are “coasters” for the piano feet in the specialist shop, which are not only gentler on the floor, but also lift the whole piano by a few centimeters.

For a straight spine, it helps to imagine that there is a thread attached to your top vertebra. If someone were to pull you up on this imaginary thread so that a good part of your weight was hanging on it, it would shape your back into the correct position “as if by magic”.

2. Correct hand position

Again and again I observe pianists with a cramped hand position. In the long run, this is not only unnecessarily strenuous, but also leads to difficulties, especially if you want to play very fast or very quiet (or fast AND AT THE SAME TIME quiet) passages.


"Be completely relaxed" is therefore the basic magic formula. The mental support looks like it is only for children, but of course it works equally for adults. Also, try to press the buttons only with as much force as necessary.


3. How do I practice efficiently?

Do you know the difference between effective and efficient?

Effectiveness is about achieving / changing as much as possible.

Efficiency is about as much as possible Little effort to achieve / change as much as possible.

Projected onto practice, this means that theoretically you can learn everything with just enough practice. In practice, however, it's not fun, let alone that everyone has 8 hours a day to do it. Playing a song from beginning to end over and over again brings: NOTHING !!! You then keep repeating the same mistakewhich then also solidify. You should make sure that you practice bit by bit, especially in difficult places. That can also be just one or two bars, or even just from one chord to the next. If that works, then from the second chord (or measure) to the third, etc. It is also important that you practice at a suitable tempo so that you stay in rhythm. Many people practice too quickly, not least because they trust themselves too much. When practicing, put aside the shame in front of yourself and practice slowly! You can increase the pace if it works.

4. With or without a metronome?

If you don't know when to practice with and when to practice without the metronome, then your practice behavior can certainly still be more efficient become.

Of course, your fingers should already have some idea of ​​which key to switch to which one. If you notice that this is still very unclear, refer to point 3 again. Beginners in particular often have the problem that they play pauses far too short and therefore have problems developing a stable sense of rhythm. The metronome helps you to counteract this.

If you are advanced and have no problem with the correct length of the pauses, a metronome will help you with other things. In rhythmically jagged passages with many 8ths, 16ths and / or 32nds notes (and pauses) it helps to maintain an overview and to internalize the right rhythm. Of course, the same applies here: first play slowly at the beginning, and then slow the pace increase!

Another thing for which the metronome is worth its weight in gold is to play a song in one tempo from start to finish. That sounds simple, but it's not so self-evident. Often one urges to get faster and faster in a song. With some songs more, with others less. And often you only notice it when you switch on a metronome. Try it out with different songs.

5. Don't play too loud and don't play too fast!

The loudest sound is not always the best! The louder the sound, the fuller it appears, but actually it is not !! It is then “just” louder - and that is often the case overdressed. It is more important that your sound matches the song. Think about which emotions you want to convey in a song and which game you can use to achieve these emotions. And don't forget that in most cases the piano is called Accompanying instrument is used. That means it has the function of supporting the singing (which is usually in the foreground). That's why your loudest playing always has to be a tick quieter than the singing. Piano solos are an exception.

Especially pianists who often play the electric piano have not developed such a dynamic range as pianists on the acoustic piano. This is simply due to the fact that electric pianists have the luxury of being able to control their volume except with their hands using a potentiometer or fader. On a traditional piano they then play particularly delicate, gentle passages often too vigorously. If you get more feeling in your fingers want, then turn your electric piano up to the max, but play it softly. Initially, the individual tones will be very different in volume. After a little practice, playing becomes more even again. Once you are really good at it, you can focus on single notes toaccentuate.

Likewise, many musicians (including drummers) have a bad habit of chronically playing too fast. The same applies here: think about which emotions you want to generate and lean back and relax. To avoid accidentally going too fast, turn on the metronome.

And last but not least: keep your head on while practicing!

Keywords: learn piano

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