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Learning to play piano and which piano to buy

The sound of music

You will very, very hardly find anyone who doesn't make music a part of their life. Most people actually listen to music every day: on their way to work and back, while playing games, during their workout, lazing around on YouTube, on the radio when they wake up or do their chores, some even have a song for their ringtone and their alarm clock. Music is everywhere, it sounds on TV, Internet videos, SoundCloud, Spotify, that guy around the corner who plays on the street for a penny... Without music, our lives would definitely be something completely different. And not as good.

It is understandable that many want to learn how to play it themselves. There are tons of instruments out there, but in our culture, just a few have become so popular that thousands can - or are willing to learn to - play them. One of them, and arguably the most iconic instrument of classical music, is the piano.

There is a huge difference between listening to a record - or even a live performance - and playing yourself. It gives you a sense of agency that many people valorate a lot - and for very good reasons. Also, improvising is a lot of fun, and that's why we thing musicians should improvise instead of always following scores. Yes, we love some songs and we want to hear them over and over, they have become classics, or maybe we haven't hear them yet but we should, and that's when a musician comes into the scene and plays it for us, doing us a favour. However, improvising is fundamental for really experiencing what music is about, and it's more difficult than it seems! At least, if you want to do it right. Once you have become familiar with how your instrument works, in this case the piano, and you have trained your hands enough for them to flow nimble up and down the keyboard and respond to your mind - or heart - you can improvise some great melodies and compelling pieces.

Learning to play the piano

The first thing that you will have to decide when you have made up your mind and chosen to give the piano a try, is how you are going to learn: will it be self-learning, or will you get a teacher? Both options have pros and cons, of course. Learning by yourself means that you do what you want, you have no schedules and you can practise as much or as little as you please. However, teaching yourself to play also has its risks, precisely because there is nobody behind you to control what you do. Having a teacher means that you are under more pressure to be disciplined and constant, which is fundamental for playing any instrument right. Also, a teacher will be able to show you mistakes you don't realize you make, and correct any vices that you may have. 

Self-learning can be good if you complement it with classes with an expert teacher. It has become much easier now to learn by yourself because the Internet is full of tutorials of all kinds, so if you want to learn how to play the piano you will definitely find a lot of material out there. You don't need to be the next musical prodigy, the point here is to have fun.

Buy the right instrument

What teachers often reccommend for a beginner is that they purchase a "practise instrument", which is often relatively cheap and not of much quality, but serves its purpose as a learning tool. You can use this first instrument to practise, and then, when you are good enough to make advantage of a proepr instrument, you can go get a more expensive one with a better sound. This is also advisable since many people start with an instrument and then they learn by experience that they weren't as much into it as they thought, or they don't have the time or the patience to go on with classes, so they drop them. Having bought a cheap instrument you're not going to use is much better than spending a lot.

If you are learning to play the piano and you don't have one in your house already - which sometimes happens - you could start up with a keyboard, because real pianos are often expensive, even the more affordable ones. It's a huge and complex instrument, after all. Once you have mastered the basics of your piano and you have good music to play, you can up your game and buy a good one. If you want to find out which models are out there and what's the best for you, you can check The Pianoman, a great piano store with lots of options and a great reputation.

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