When we start learning piano it is normal to make mistakes, it’s part of the learning process.
But some mistakes can slow down your progress and this is why it’s important to notice them and to correct them slowly.
Here are the 10 most common mistakes I see beginners make:
1- Wrist too high or too low
The first mistake I see very often is when students break the wrist. When we get used to play with the wrist too high or too low, we create tension in our arms and in the long run it can create injuries. Also, it’s very limiting for the fingers movement when we play.
So it’s really important to keep our wrist relax and aligned with the hands.
2- Practicing in Waves
The second mistake I see is practicing in waves. For example, if you practice once a week for five hours. Yes, you might see a little bit of progress but in reality we get a much better technique and results by practicing less but more often. When we start the piano, it’s much better to try to practice for 30 minutes every other day or in the best case, everyday. We learn a musical instrument with repetition.
3- Play With Straight Fingers
The next common mistake is to play with straight fingers on the piano.
This might seem not too bad, but it’s actually something that will stop your progress very fast.
Firstly, it’s not a very precise way to play, you’re probably going to play notes you don’t want to play and since one of the main techniques at the piano is to pass the thumb below the other fingers, you will definitely have a hard time doing that.
So it’s super important to start playing on the fingertips for these fingers and on the side for the thumb. Try to keep your hands round when you play.
4- Writing the notes
The next mistake a lot of beginners will do is writing all the notes on the music sheet. Not only one or two. In the short term it’s going to give you the impression that it’s actually helping you since you’ll be able to play the song. But in reality, you’ll get used to read what’s written instead of the actual notes. So you won’t develop the habit of knowing the notes on the staff and it’s going to create more confusion to play the right notes on the piano.
Since every note on the staff has a specific position on the piano, it’s really important to start learning them at the beginning.
If you struggle learning the notes at first, I suggest that you write just a few notes to help you remember the most difficult ones or the ones that can help you figure out the others. But be careful so it doesn’t become a long-term habit.
In the same way, writing the notes on the piano keys is just a way to slow down your progress.
5- Guessing the notes
The 5th mistake I see so often with beginners is trying to guess the upcoming notes on the sheet instead of reading them. Unless you really know the song well, trying to guess the notes is usually a good way to learn mistakes and it will just take more time to learn the song.
When we practice those mistakes, it’s even harder to unlearn them.
So taking the time to search the notes, even if it seems longer at first, will actually be the easiest and fastest way to learn how to read music. The best trick is to keep a staff cheat sheet on the piano to help you find the right notes.
6- Learning only by ear
The next mistake I see often is when students learn music ONLY by ear. Believe me, ear learning is really important but it represents 50% of a musician’s skills. It’s a must to also work on your reading skills and to understand the foundation of music theory. A good balance is the key to progress constantly and to become a better musician.
7- Playing too fast
Now we all want to be able to play our song fast. But generally, we want to play it too fast for our level. It actually creates more imperfections in your playing and a lack of accuracy. We might have the impression that playing fast shows that we can play the song, but in reality, it hides what we don’t master and create new problems. Practicing slowly will give you the chance to practice the right movement and to create good habits that will become automatic when you play faster.
So being able to play anything both slow and fast is important. And a good way to work on that would be to use the metronome.
8- Picking songs too hard
Having goals is very important to stay motivated. And it’s probably why you got inspired in learning the piano in the first place. But if we choose songs that are way higher than our level it’s going to do the contrary, you’ll get unmotivated and discouraged. So it’s very important to pick a song just a little bit above your level to learn something but not too far from what you already know.
In today’s world, there are so many versions of a song that you can find on the internet that there’s usually a good version for your level.
The main goal is to constantly progress with songs that you love.
9- Playing songs too easy
On the other hand, if you only learn easy songs, you won’t progress. Playing songs that you already know might be fun and you should do it but you won’t learn anything new. So it’s important to get out of your comfort zone to keep progressing. I always suggest that my student have a practice plan to make sure you work on new things. It can be a new song, or a new chord progression, just try to get better.
10- Too much or not enough theory
The last mistake I see very often is to try to know everything before you start. When we start learning an instrument, we don’t really need a high level of music theory or harmonic notions. We just need to learn a little bit every step of the way.
And if we don’t learn anything about music theory, we’re going to get limited in our progress. We don’t need to know everything before we start but we need a good balance to keep progressing.
Most students start learning with software such as synthesia that just shows you what note to touch on the piano. It’s a fun way to use it once in a while but if you only learn this way, you won’t develop the right skill to learn music by yourself. You won’t understand any of it.
This is why we need to be careful when we learn an instrument to find the right balance between theory and the pleasure of playing a song.
Have fun and have a good practice!
Founder of Online Rock Lessons, Marine is the keyboardist for Uncle Kracker, Corey Hart and Highway Hunters.
With over 20 years of experience in show business, Marine is launching the first Canadian Music School dedicated to rock and blues lovers.