How to Teach Yourself to Play the Piano: A Beginner’s Guide

Wondering how to teach yourself to play the piano? If you are driven by a passion for art, music, and skill, you can teach yourself to play the piano. With the plethora of information and resources available to us today, from tutorials on the internet to several well-written books on the subject, teaching yourself to play the piano is no longer a remote possibility.

So if you’re not interested in reaching out to a professional teacher, here’s how you can guide yourself to learn and produce music with dedication, discipline, practice, and style.

Can You Teach Yourself to Play the Piano?

Can You Teach Yourself to Play the Piano

Yes, you can teach yourself to play the piano. Learning to play an instrument is a much-lauded pursuit. If you are amongst the many piano buffs and are passionate and eager to learn, teaching yourself to play the piano is going to be nothing short of an exciting experience and a rewarding journey for you.

It Doesn’t Come Free

If you decide to learn the piano yourself, you may not spend an exuberant amount of money on a tutor but you will still need to shell out some money for the right kind of self-tutoring tools. This includes a decent piano, self-study books, internet costs for online study material, and so on.

There Will Be Some Limitations

The lack of supervision may even lead you to skip lessons and not practice as much as needed. Set real-time goals and don’t make excuses. You also need criticism and constructive feedback to improve your skill. You can always play what you have learned for someone else. Be it a friend, family member, or colleague. Their opinions and reactions can give you something to fall back on.

Steps to Follow

Steps to Follow

The piano is a classical instrument and learning to play it takes a lot of practice and knowledge. With 88 keys to become familiar with, the process of self-learning is extensive, complex, and extremely intriguing. Here are some basic steps to follow to teach yourself to play the piano.

#1. Start with A Keyboard

If you’re just starting to learn, buying a piano may be too expensive as an initial investment. Instead, you could either hire a second-hand piano on rent or buy yourself a state-of-the-art keyboard. Keyboards are amazingly handy, portable, easy to maintain, and hardly take up space compared with large pianos. Keyboards are inexpensive and won’t break your budget.

#2. Get to Know Your Keys

Once you have an instrument to work with, the next step is understanding its components. When you get yourself a piano, make sure you learn to tune its keys first before playing.

Every key has a term associated with it. If you want to learn to play the keys, you have to know their names for later recall. Memorizing keys is also crucial to the learning process.

Usually, brand new pianos and keyboards come with a manual or instrument handbook that includes the necessary information on learning the basics. Read this book thoroughly and keep it nearby during your initial practice sessions. Having useful guidelines to refer to always helps when you’re learning anything new.

#3. Learn to Position Yourself Correctly

Believe it or not, learning to play the piano is considerably impacted by your posture and the positioning of your fingers. Every bit of precision goes a long way toward mastering an instrument.

Make sure your arms and palms are in the right position. Place your fingers directly over the keys, not alongside them. Your palms must form a cup-like shape over the keys and your fingertips are all that should cover the keys.

Initially, this positioning tactic is going to stress your hand muscles out, including your shoulders and your back. To ease the pressure, practice five-finger routines across the entire keyboard. It helps to use the black keys more frequently. Get the hang of such swift movements and your fingers will be set to play the keys in effortlessly.

#4. Get Your Notes Straight

If music is your language and the keys are your words, then the notes are your alphabets. Learning your notes is crucial to learning the piano. Notes are theoretical representations of the wide range of sounds that your piano can make. If you want to teach yourself to play the piano, you have to know notes thoroughly. Starting with note C, here are the notes you must have etched in your memory:

• Do: Note C
• Re: Note D
• Mi: Note E
• Fa: Note F
• So: Note G
• La: Note A
• Ti: Note B
• Do: Note C

Each piano has multiple C notes, and they are easy to find because they repeatedly show up after every eighth note. This is what you call an “octave.” On the left side of the keyboard is where you’ll find note F; an F note comes after every third black key.

#5. You Have to Know About Flats and Sharps

Clustered in pairs or threes, the black keys on the piano hit sharps or flats. Sharps are represented by the “#” symbols and flats are always “b” signs. Remember that the black keys are also known as accidentals, and white keys can also produce sharps and flats.

Learning the various keys patterns that create sharps and flats, accompanied by the Middle C note and the Middle F note is a fundamental step.

#6. Practice with Chords

Music is all about the chords. Any kind of instrument, including the piano, is packed with 12 major chords and 12 minor chords. From basics to advanced levels, you will be dwelling deep into the chords of piano music. The best way to learn them on your own is to look for chord sheets online.

#7. Reading Music Comes Next

From bass clef to treble clef, you want to know how to read music when teaching yourself to play the piano. Reading involves understanding notes on a musical page during the initial phases of learning. As you upgrade to advanced levels, you’ll be learning about rhythm.

Tips on Teaching Yourself to Play the Piano

Tips on Teaching Yourself

Here are some helpful tips on how to teach yourself to play the piano.

#1. Pick Your Signature Style

If you want to learn to play the piano, you’d want to pick a style that suits your taste in music the most. In line with your favorite musicians/genre and your style of music, you can choose any of these styles and master it to perfection:

• Jazz
• Classical
• Rock
• Gospel
• Funk
• Pop
• Broadway

#2. Pick the Right Study Materials

From lesson books to chord sheets and tutorial apps, there are quite a few resources you can choose from. Pick the best quality study materials because understanding concepts and methods are crucial to your learning curve. Ideally, you want to learn from books that are informative, instructional, and up to date while simple to understand.

You can start with beginner-friendly material to help you grasp the concepts better. Fast-paced books and tutorials may get lost on you. For proper and effective learning, pick books that are medium to slow-paced, preferably by authors who are professional pianists or piano teachers.

#3. Begin with the Easy Stuff

Starting with complex and advanced music patterns is going to burn you out. Start with easy scales and notes. When you teach yourself to play the piano, you want to complete and master each step perfectly before your move on to the next one. This is the only way you will learn to play an instrument closely.

#4. Use One Hand at a Time

Beginners often find it difficult to coordinate both hands together on the keys. Ease into it by using only one set of fingers on one hand. First, maintain your speed and gradually pick up the pace. This way you can assess your weakness and improve your skill, one hand at a time.

#5. Record Your Practice Sessions

It’s one thing to play the piano and quite another to sit back and hear yourself play. Often, beginners find it difficult to do the latter. When you teach yourself to play, you are your best and only critic. So record both audio and video to check for posture, positioning, accuracy, pace, pitch, flow, and tone.

Best Ways to Learn the Piano by Yourself

Learn the Piano

Now that we’ve covered the steps and tips to help you learn the piano, let’s dig into the best ways in which you can learn the instrument.

#1. Learn Music Theory

The best way to learn an instrument like the piano is by studying music theory. Familiarize yourself with some important concepts such as notes, chords, melody, rhythm, harmony, and intervals as these elements will form the basis of your learning process.

#2. Be Spontaneous

Try playing the instrument without the help of music sheets or books. Pick a simple piece of music you enjoy, immerse yourself into it, and try playing it by the ear. Make sound the foundation of your self-learning method.

#3. Time Yourself

Timing is everything when it comes to playing the piano. With every note comes a count and you want to keep count of your beats for that perfect rhythm. Make sure you have a detailed and accurate music sheet open and be mindful of how you time your patterns.

#4. Jam Often

Playing music with some company can make the entire experience a lot more productive. Practicing with other musicians and in the presence of other sounds and instruments will help you become a better judge of your music style, pace, and quality. Your bandmates may also chip in with some useful criticism that may help you improve your skill.

#5. Set Practice Goals

Practicing and learning in isolation can make you complacent. Be proactive and set precise practice goals. Write them down, make a chart, or add your practice sessions on your computer to keep tabs on how well you are meeting your daily targets. If you’re going to be teaching yourself, you are going to have to be your own boss.

#6. Perform Often

Whenever you learn something new and you think you’ve aced it, perform for people. It doesn’t have to be a huge crowd. If you’re not comfortable playing for strangers, just gather around your family and friends and play for them. See how they react and check to see if you perform as well as you practice.

#7. Watch Recitals

Watching a professional perform at recitals is the best kind of studying. Watch their postures and positioning, observe their intricate styles and moves. These are professionals who have dedicated hours upon hours to learning their instrument. Use that inspiration and motivation to hone your skills when you practice.

#8. Take Online Courses

Although there are plenty of video tutorials and lesson books you can use, they can only help so much. To make sure that you’re getting complete, inclusive knowledge, look up the best online courses and sign up for one. Training with a professional can help you reach your benchmarks faster and better. Online courses can also help you get more serious about why you want to play the piano and how you plan to teach yourself.

Pianos for Beginners

Designed to last and inexpensive, digital pianos are a beginner’s safest and best bet. Here are some of the most popular digital pianos for beginners for self-teaching.

1. Roland FP-10


Slick, weighted, and sturdy, the Roland FP-10 is the best you’re going to get for its price. This full-sized digital piano comes with a Bluetooth MIDI, cool speakers, and a PHA-4 keyboard.

2. Casio Privia PX-S1000


Compact, portable, and trendy, the Casio Privia PX-S1000 flaunts cutting-edge tech and an ultra-slim design. Pick it up in a shiny black, red, or white color, and enjoy its AiR sound engine.

3. Korg B2N


This one is lightweight and portable. It’s studded with a light-touch keyboard and is perfect for beginners and kids. For better learning, the Korg B2N comes with an interesting online piano service subscription with Skoove.

A Few Parting Words

Any learning process requires the learner’s (that is, your) dedication and commitment. This applies to learning a musical instrument too. And although learning from a teacher would always be recommended, learning by yourself is no longer impossible.

From tutorials, software, and apps to several comprehensive books, there is no dearth of resources on how to teach yourself to play the piano. Relaxing, fulfilling, and satisfying, the days spent learning the piano are sure to be some of the best moments of your life.