Hands-On Piano Project

by Alex Jakubik
Piano projects can be educational and enjoyable for pianists of any age.

Piano projects can be educational and enjoyable for pianists of any age.

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Hands-on experience is one of the best ways to learn to play the piano. Teachers are incredibly helpful but are not necessarily the only way to improve your playing or increase your familiarity with the concepts at the core of piano playing. Discovering things on your own can make learning the piano much more exciting, and various projects can help focus your development.

Projects for Learning the Notes

Learning the note names on the piano is not difficult and can be easily turned into the basis for an educational game or team project. Beginning pianists must first learn to distinguish the various keys from each other and recognize the patterns separating them. Black notes help the most by giving reference points: They always appear in alternating groups of two or three, and the note directly below the lower of the two black notes is always C. Don't forget that music only uses letters A through G, with an A following every G. Possible activities to organize based on note recognition could include a speed identification game or spelling short words with note letters.

Rhythm

Rhythm is an essential part of music and is easily learned on the piano. Bass lines are known for being very rhythmic, so beginning with low notes on the piano is a smart musical decision. Rhythm at its most basic is being able to keep a beat or maintain a repeating pattern of notes. Making a pattern of repeating notes on the piano is an excellent way to practice and develop this. Also, try dividing a beat into two, three and four parts. This ability will become very handy in the future as you develop.

Chords and Harmony

It's always an exciting moment when you learn to play something appealing to your ear. One of the first steps in this process is learning to play chords and build harmonies. Simply play one note on the piano, skip the next one and add the following note. The result is a small chord known as a third. Larger chords are often stacks of thirds piled together. Experiment with different amounts of thirds stacked on top of each other or with chords beginning on different notes.

Melodies

Melody is one of the core aspects of music. Good melodies stick in your head long after you've heard the music. Melodies are usually made of simple components of notes that either run in a row or have skips or jumps between them. Trying to figure out melodies with your ear can be a great project for getting to know the piano better. Listen to a song you like and try to identify parts of melody that repeat. Experiment with trying to play them on the piano. Playing by ear is an ability that can be developed over time. Look at it like a puzzle that has to be discovered gradually. If you persevere and finally figure out a whole melody, it can be incredibly rewarding, not to mention fun to listen to.

About the Author

Alex Jakubik began his writing career in 2000 with book-cover summaries for Barnes & Noble. He has also authored concert programs and travel blogs, and worked both nationally and internationally in the arts. Jakubik holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University and a Master of Music from Yale University.

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