Many traditional piano / keyboard teachers and music teachers tend to be a bit snobbish when it comes to the notion of students teaching themselves how to play piano / keyboard or any other musical instrument.
But my view, as a piano / keyboard teacher for 30+ years, is that all teaching is ultimately self-teaching.
I see my role not so much as a piano / keyboard teacher but rather as a guide.
Through the Musiah online piano lesson course, I use piano / keyboard music as a means of helping students discover that they can teach themselves anything they want to learn, not only how to play piano / keyboard — but anything they want to learn.
Each of us has enormous untapped abilities within ourselves and teaching yourself piano / keyboard is a great way to discover and unlock your hidden potential.
Can you really teach yourself how to play piano / keyboard effectively?
Absolutely. While there is no doubt that having a good traditional teacher can be helpful, the fact is you can teach yourself how to play piano / keyboard very effectively with the Musiah online piano lesson course, and you can do it with or without the involvement of a traditional piano / keyboard teacher.
In fact, through the Musiah online piano lesson course, you can teach yourself how to play piano so fast and so effectively that there is a curious phenomenon starting to emerge among some of the more advanced Musiah piano students...
Bob (name changed) is a Musiah piano / keyboard student who completed some of the earlier levels in the course within a few weeks and is now in the mid to advanced levels. Recently he described the following:
“Lately, I’ve been rather slack with practicing… I think that I may have gone too hard too fast with Musiah and feel that I need a little break, I feel a little burnt out. I loaded it up the other day and only did like 10 mins and started to get annoyed [with myself]. I am still keen to get back into it eventually. Is this a normal reaction?
I've spoken to [another Musiah student] about it and she put it perfectly. You make a lot of progress in the first couple of levels then it starts to take a lot longer to get the songs. The more difficult the songs get the longer it will take to get a grasp of it all.”
Bearing in mind that Bob has taught himself material in a few weeks that normally takes 1-2 years to learn, what he describes is perfectly normal.
The issue is partly that short easy beginners pieces will of course take less time to complete than longer more advanced pieces, so students’ expectations of how long it will take to master each piece will need to be modified as they progress through the course.
By contrast traditional piano / keyboard students would not be as aware of this transition from short pieces to pieces that take longer to learn because they experience it gradually over a number of years instead of within a few weeks.
But there is also another aspect to this phenomenon...
Musiah’s online piano / keyboard lessons... could actually be too effective!
Musiah’s online piano / keyboard lessons, especially in the early stages, could actually be too effective — one could perhaps say ‘hyper-effective’.
Initially we were delighted when the Musiah online piano lesson case study showed that students teaching themselves how to play piano / keyboard online with Musiah learned 5-8 times faster (in their first few weeks of lessons) than students learning the same syllabus with a traditional piano / keyboard teacher.
And the latest research data (gathered since the study) reveals that students taking lessons with Musiah over a longer period of time are actually learning piano up to 16 times faster than students learning the same syllabus through traditional piano lessons.
But unlike the character Neo in the Matrix movies who can plug a program into the back of his head and hey presto, he knows kung fu... in reality, even we had the technology to do that, it wouldn't quite work quite so well, because as human beings, we need time to absorb knowledge and skills at a deeper level. They need to settle within us. (Think of Tai Chi masters who practice very slowly so they can learn to move very fast).
So in some cases students teaching themselves piano with Musiah can perhaps in some ways progress too fast before they have really absorbed the knowledge. And then they get to the advanced songs, and there is a bit of a disparity between what they know and can do at a surface level, and what they are truly one with at a deeper level.
So the message is yes, what Bob described above is within the range of normal experiences while teaching yourself piano with Musiah — and while learning fast may generally seem desirable, in some ways it isn't always. It may even be at times counter-productive.
To put this into the context of Bob’s experience; he has learned skills and piano pieces in a very short space of time that in traditional piano or keyboard lessons normally take 1-2 years to learn — so there are bound to be aspects of his learning that have yet to settle.
The easier early pieces have given him knowledge (you might say 'head' knowledge). Now the more advanced pieces are teaching him more advanced coordination and musicality, which could by comparison be described as 'heart' knowledge.
Although it may not be as obvious to Bob now as when he first began, with small amounts of practice — say 10-15 minutes once or twice a day — he is still learning and acquiring skills at a much faster rate than traditional piano students.
Another student who is currently on Level 10 and really loves the Musiah online piano lesson course still at times feels frustrated at her perception of the length of time it takes to master some pieces — despite having learned in around 5 months what normally takes 5 years.
So, as students approach the more advanced levels, my advice is to try not to let impatience color your perception. It is important to not only slow down, but adjust your expectations of how long it will take to learn each piece.
After all, there is a reason why each of the earlier levels have around 20 pieces and the more advanced levels have fewer pieces (Level 13 has just one piece).
The time it takes to complete a level is perhaps a better yardstick by which to measure your rate of progress than the time it takes to learn an individual piece. But of course speed (as in, getting through the material quickly) is not the be-all and end-all.
A more balanced question is, in any given week, how much have you learned in terms of skills and musicality rather than how many tunes have you learned.
In closing, because teaching yourself how to play piano with Musiah is so effective, my advice to students in the early levels is to slow down and enjoy the journey, so when you reach the advanced pieces you will experience a smoother transition.
And of course, students in the advanced levels, you must continue to slow down further and not panic if it seems likes it’s taking you a while to learn one piece. You are learning more than you may realize — subtle things like technique, phrasing and advanced coordination.
Even though teaching yourself piano / keyboard online with Musiah is an extremely fast and effective way to learn how to play piano / keyboard, it should not be treated in the same way as entering the tv show "The Amazing Race", by which I mean it's not all about finishing the course as fast as humanly possible.
By slowing down and stopping to smell the roses occasionally, you will experience a greater depth of learning.
Remember — the slower you practice, the quicker you learn (and the more you learn).
Herein endeth today's lesson.
If you have not yet experienced the joy of teaching yourself how to play piano / keyboard online, why not take our Online Piano Lessons 14 Day Free Trial today.
Thanks for reading, and please feel free to comment.
Brendan Hogan L.Mus.A, A.Mus.A.
Piano Teacher & Musiah Inventor