From time to time, students ask this question in various guises, either generally…
"What else should I be doing in addition to my Musiah piano lessons to maximise my progress?"
"What exercises in addition to Musiah’s tuition are recommended to develop the skill of…"
- reading sheet music
- sight reading
- ear training
- playing different rhythms with both hands
- building up finger strength
- playing faster
- memorizing pieces
- learning more music theory
- etc. [substitute your own desired skill here]?
Whether asked generally or specifically, the answer in most cases is the same...
You don’t need to do anything – except your Musiah piano lessons.
The Pros And Cons Of Other Activities
99 times out of 100, my recommendation is to stick to your Musiah lessons and try not to get too distracted by other activities.
Why? Because the good news is that Musiah is designed to enable you to acquire all these skills and more in the shortest possible time frame.
So while other alternate activities (when considered on their own) may be beneficial, if they reduce the time you would otherwise spend progressing through your Musiah piano lessons, they will quite often slow down your overall progress rather than increase it.
This particularly applies to time spent on learning supplementary pieces outside the Musiah syllabus.
Yes, I know, all learning is beneficial, and we’re all human.
On the one hand, it’s hard to believe that a single course of piano lessons really is designed to holistically provide all these benefits... and on the other hand, many of us tend by nature to flit from one activity to another rather than really focusing on one thoroughly.
But in terms of acquiring the skills to read sheet music and play piano proficiently together with the many various skills that combine to give you this ability – working solely on Musiah really is your best bet!
Are There Exceptions Where Supplementary Activites Are Recommended?
It depends on the skill you are seeking to improve.
For example, if you are really keen to learn a particular piece / song outside of the Musiah syllabus, at least practice it on your own (spare) time, i.e. in addition to your allocated Musiah practice time, NOT instead of your Musiah practice time.
If you want to improve your note reading and note playing skills, supplementary activities you may find useful to do for a few minutes each day include the Note Identification Game and the Note Playing Game in the dedicated Games Area of the Musiah app.
For ear training, there’s also the Ear Training Game.
And for memory training, there’s even a Memory Training Game – all within the Games Area of the Musiah app.
So many of the commonly queried skills (in terms of supplementary activities) are included in the app's Games Area.
The benefit of these games is that they are quick and easy (so they don’t take much time) and they are consistent with the Musiah teaching method.
What About Other Skills… Such As Developing Coordination, Playing Technique, Playing Faster, Etc?
In all honesty, these are addressed comprehensively within your Musiah piano lessons, so there is little to be gained in terms of trying to develop these skills by playing material outside of the Musiah syllabus, though doing so will quite likely slow down your progress.
As an example, let’s take a look at the specific skill of developing coordination in the form of the ability to play different rhythms with both hands…
Even before Musiah was embodied as a software invention, the teaching method was developed and tested over many years specifically with this skill in mind.
Why? Because playing rhythmically challenging music that is typically not played on keyboard – even very different parts of an ensemble piece being played simultaneously – is a passion of mine. I love the split concentration aspect of this skill.
The development of this skill starts at the beginning of your piano lessons journey.
Almost all piano courses make the mistake of moving students' hands around too much in the early stages.
By contrast, Musiah keeps students' hands in the C position for quite some time so students become very familiar with the notes under each finger.
This enables students to be taught much more advanced coordination skills right from the beginning than is normal.
If you're interested, this article touches on this in a little more detail.
Then, when you get to the more advanced lessons in the course, you'll find Musiah will have you playing a repeated pattern in the Left Hand while talking to yourself in unscripted conversation to help you develop split concentration in terms of the ability to play the Left Hand almost on auto-pilot while playing something entirely different rhythmically in the Right Hand.
So the Musiah course really does have a unique focus on this area that simply does not exist elsewhere.
Similarly, the other above-mentioned skills are addressed comprehensively in your Musiah piano lessons.
Where Can I Learn More Music Theory?
Sometimes folks ask about where to learn more music theory outside of Musiah, e.g. to reflect on while learning piano with Musiah.
If your goal is mainly to play piano and read sheet music, then you don't have to do anything else other than your Musiah lessons as they really will teach you everything you need to know.
That said, as mentioned above, we do have a Games Area which focuses on Note Reading, Note Playing, Ear Training and Memory Training so students can choose to work on developing their skills in these areas independent of the lessons.
Plus, in your Musiah piano lessons, theory tends to be slipped surreptitiously into the lessons so most of the time, you won’t even notice you are learning theory.
However, if you are still interested in learning more about music theory, my recommendation is this…
First, because this will help you think about theory / approaches to note reading while learning with Musiah, I recommend the following videos / articles because they give some good insight into the Musiah method and how it will assist you particularly with reading sheet music – which is of course where theory really begins.
The Best Piano Method - Compare (video / article)
Then, if you'd still like to learn more about theory, there's one book you really can't go past... it's kind of the bible when it comes to explaining music theory to any student:
What About Further Skill Development (after Musiah)?
For the sake of completeness, there is one more question I should address.
The initial question, “What else should I be doing in addition to my Musiah piano lessons?” inevitably leads to…
“Assuming success with Musiah, what do you recommend for further piano skill development?” (I would like to be able to play pieces such as Chopin's Minute Waltz,etc.)
The good news is that the Musiah course (on its own without anything else) will take you to the point where you will have the ability to teach yourself pretty much any piece (within reason) – and it will do so in the shortest possible time-frame.
Following Musiah, for most students, I recommend trying to find the right balance between self-teaching and / or a live teacher to suit your individual circumstances and goals. More in-depth guidance in this area is available in this article:
So, just to re-cap…
In most cases, what else should you be doing in addition to your Musiah piano lessons?
I guess I could have said that at the start, but a one-word answer would have meant no article… and giving a little context to “nothing” hopefully counts for something.
I hope you found the above thoughts helpful. And of course, if you (dear reader) would like to commence your own piano lessons journey, I warmly invite you to take our Online Piano Lessons 14 Day Free Trial.
Thanks for reading.
I wish nothing but the best for you,
Brendan Hogan L.Mus.A, A.Mus.A.
Piano Teacher & Musiah Inventor