Do You Want Your Piano Playing To Sound Like A Pro?

By Ed Mascari

If you’re like most people who take piano lessons, you do! Whether you’re young or old or somewhere in between, you aspire to make beautiful music and… right away!

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You’ve probably heard the old joke: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall” asks the inquisitive tourist. “Practice, practice, practice!” replies the wise old responder.

But wouldn’t you much prefer to learn the secret to sounding good just for your own satisfaction and enjoyment?

That’s probably why you take piano lessons… However, most piano students forget to pay attention to the very areas that would enable them to sound great!

Do you do one or more of the following?

1. Ignore the timing by not counting or tapping your foot.

2. Play everything at the same volume.

3. Disregard the key signature and just start playing the piece.

4. Use too much pedal.

5. “Type” or bang the keys and disconnect one note from another.

6. Allow the accompaniment (usually the left hand part) to overpower or drown out the melody.

7. Listen to talk radio instead of spending some of your time listening to music.

If you recognized any of the above habits as things you do, congratulations! Now you know why you aren’t sounding like a pro yet.

(Parents: Have you noticed these traits in your children who take lessons?)

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Obviously, you want to sound good! (And you parents want your kids to sound good, don’t you?) So instead of treating piano practice like a chore, here are seven ways to start you on the way to Carnegie Hall:

1. Pay attention to the timing: count or tap your foot.

2. Notice the dynamics (indications for differences in volume) and follow them.

3. Look at the key signature before you start to play and mark all of the sharps or flats if you need to.

4. Use the pedal with care. (Pedal changes are often marked in classical pieces, and should be made in songs with each chord change.)

5. Employ correct fingering as you work towards playing smoothly and connected (unless the music asks for staccato: detached playing).

6. Listen for the melody. Can you always hear it while you are playing?

7. Focus on spending some time listening to music every week. (With wonderful tools like iPods, MP3 players and the internet, it’s easy to find recorded versions of the pieces that you play as well as music that motivates and inspires you.)

Give these suggestions a try. Start today. You’ll be surprised at how much better you sound!

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Copyright © 2007 by Ed Mascari – About the Author: Ed Mascari has been teaching piano privately to children and adults for nearly three decades. He is a seasoned performer (pianist/ jazz organist) of show tunes, jazz and popular music as well as a published classical composer and church musician. Go to for info.


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