• Tia Brown

7 Myths about Learning Piano

Updated: May 18

Let’s talk about dream crushers: lies you may be believing about playing the piano.

Have you ever quit piano lessons? Think you don’t have what it takes? Keep reading. I may be able to get your runaway dream back–for good this time.

Musicians used to be taken for granted, there were so many. Even today, in many countries, music is deeply ingrained in the culture.

Kids, from the day they’re born, grow up singing and playing traditional songs with family and friends. It’s not just a lesson once a week or a monthly recital. Music is their way of life! It becomes as natural to them as speaking their native language.

Then there’s good ol’ America. The land where even the most basic singing and instrumental skill is attributed to some kind of “magical ability” that one is either born with or without.

Whenever I start talking with someone about playing an instrument, they always sigh and tell me their sad story of how their childhood piano lessons failed and their fingers are clumsy. They sadly try to convince me that there’s not even a crumb of potential in them. When I try to tell them otherwise, they shake their head and say something like, “It’s just the fate I was born with, like most everyone else.”

What if I told you there’s a simple cure?

Myth: It Takes a ton of Repetition

A very classic mistake everyone does is try to learn simply by repetition. They start the song, wait until they mess up, grimace, and then start over from the very beginning. This leads to tension, frustration, and ultimately quitting.

The minute you walk away from the mistake and start over, you have lost your opportunity of correcting that mistake. Inevitably, you are doomed to make that mistake again (or be repeating everything about a billion times per mistake. Boring!).

You start to feel overwhelmed by just how many mistakes there are to work through, and how much repeating you will end up doing to fix them. Then you think “If I can barely even play this one song, how will I have the patience or time to learn anything on the piano?”

Their conclusion is that they have no talent and then give up on their dreams.

Repetition is vital for building muscle memory. Each move you make triggers a neuron pathway in your brain. The more that pathway is triggered, the stronger it gets. So guess what you’re accomplishing by repeating the same mistake over and over for about 3 hours? You’re digging your own grave!

Here’s the right way to do it:

Stop. Identify the mistake. Slowly teach your fingers the correct way to move. Repeat the correct way, as slow as you need to, breaking it down into as small pieces as necessary.

When you’re satisfied with your newfound skill, THEN try playing it in the song again. Practice it a few times in the song, as slow as you need to.

If your fingers just need more strengthening (which is usually the case), leave that song and go do some exercises or some easier songs. Build up your finger strength. It’ll help a lot.

With this process, you can plow through many mistakes in just one sitting. You’ll be playing that song flawlessly in no time!

The added bonus is that you not only taught your fingers how to play that one song, but you’ll find yourself applying those same skills to every song.