I hear it far too often from people. “I hated piano lessons, but I really wish I had stuck with it.” This tells me two things: one, that more people want to play piano than can currently play, and two, that piano training, for the most part, has failed to help people achieve their goals.
Diving further into this, I discovered that the common thread through most of these folks was traditional, classical based piano lessons (with more than a few strict teachers who liked to yell a lot). Think “Twinkle, Twinkle” or something from Bach or Mozart. For those interested in playing more modern music, and I would argue this is the vast majority of people, that style of lesson was tedious, difficult to practice, slow to learn and didn’t really help them play the kinds of music they wanted to play. Every single one of them eventually quit lessons and proceeded to forget everything they learned, simply because it didn’t apply to the music they were interested in. But the desire to play piano was still there.
Then they heard of chords and decided to go that route, learning a few chords off the internet, memorizing them and hoping that, like guitar players, these chords would begin to sound like great playing. Did that happen? Probably not. The simple chords they memorized were only a small part of modern piano playing. So the playing also sounded simple, just too basic to sound good.
So where’s the answer for these modern music players? The truth lies somewhere in between. Yes, chords and chord theory are a big part of modern music, but it’s more than just some memorized chords. The routine of traditional lessons, where you build on ideas and progress with your playing, is the right path, just the wrong information. A modern player must be able to not only understand chords, but also their variations, the things that can make one chord sound a bunch of different ways.
The good news is, unlike traditional piano methods, this doesn’t take years to learn. It just takes a specific approach to learning. I’ve taught this way for years to hundreds, if not thousands, of people wanting to play modern music. The core skills and the average length of time it took me to teach them is where the piano in 8 weeks course was born. The idea of building one concept a week from lesson to lesson allowed me to start with a complete beginner and have them sounding great playing a variety of songs in just a few months. Understanding, not memorizing. From there, you can take these fundamentals and be more specific about the kinds of music you want to play. So for all modern music that is based on chords, skip the classical lessons, forget the memorized chords and put some modern piano method techniques behind your training. This time… it will stick!