At some point in almost every producer’s career, you will come to an inevitable conclusion. If you want to keep improving your music, you’re going to have to learn piano. Whilst many other instruments can be incredibly helpful in the tool set of a producer, none quite measure up to the power of the piano. With learning piano comes a vast amount of musical theory knowledge that can be applied to practically everything you work on. You also gain a fantastic appreciation for composition and rhythmical design. From getting ideas out of your head and into your DAW to writing a song with powerful and catchy melodies, taking the time to learn piano is truly invaluable.
Some Key Things to Consider
One of the first topics I want to get onto with our quest to learn piano is scales. Scales, over and over, every day and every night until all you can think of is scales. There is a reason that they are the bread and butter of every piano teacher to ever grace this earth. Scales from the basis of almost all western music. They help you to learn the note for each key as well as their relative position in the scale.
Rhythm Training Through Melodic Practise
Not only do scales help with musicality, but they are fundamental when it comes to rhythm. Getting a strong grip on the mechanical act of moving up and down an instrument is imperative in the early stages. Just like with your DAW, being hindered by your ability to move swiftly and efficiently through a session limits the quality of your work. When you learn piano, being unable to move around comfortably will limit how quickly you can progress.
Finally, scales are fantastic practice for timing. It’s funny to think that such a melodic practise can be so useful for learning rhythm but they really are. Working to a metronome and being able to lock into a groove is super helpful. Whether you’re playing live, putting in a melody or even programming drums, smooth and regular rhythm is going to improve the quality and speed of your work.
The Infamous Circle of Fifths
Without going into too much detail, this is something that every producer should have pinned up on their wall. Just like your essential production techniques, it’s good to have the essential songwriting tools. Unless your a virtuoso theorist, the circle of fifths is a great visual aid for anyone who wants to learn piano. This wonderful little tool explains the relationships between the 12 keys in a single octave, their relating key signatures, and the relevant major and minor keys. Getting to grips with this means you can hop around key changes like a wizard. It’ll also help you to add in mood shifts and clever thematic changes to all of your work. Print off a copy, learn it and see just how much easier it can make your life.
Resources to Help you Learn Piano Online
Flowkey is a great resource to learn piano with. Whether you’re a complete beginner or you’ve got a bit of experience, their platform supports everyone. If you’re looking to brush up on some regimental skills as we’ve already talked about then you can. Practise scales and various other exercises with live, interactive feedback and use their clever tools to repeat difficult sections, slow or speed runs up and learn each hand individually. If you’re not one for exercises and repetitive key skills, Flowkey has you covered. Learn piano by playing the songs you love, by the artists that you listen to and keep it fun. Get yourself signed up, even if you don’t have a piano to play on yet, and receive free resources and songs to get you started on your musical adventure!
Co-created by legendary musician Quincy Jones, Playground Sessions is one of the top rated online resources where you can learn piano. They have a fantastic curriculum that allows you to work through your lessons just as you would with a teacher. The use of popular songs as a reference for the lessons combined with a stunning user interface makes Playground Sessions a real treat to learn with. It’s also loaded with statistical data. This allows you to see just where your skills lie and where you’ve got room for improvement. This means you can focus on practising the things that you really need to work on.
Melodics is a great one for those of you that are heavily into electronic music production. Not only does it focus on letting you learn piano but it also provides lessons for playing pad controllers and electronic drum machines. This means you can get a really deep understanding of music theory as well as the specifics of rhythmic work for music production. The lessons have been created a wide variety of legendary industry names across a huge variety of genres. With a huge focus on electronic genres, there is definitely something for everyone. Equally, you’ll have the ability to branch out into some other genres that you might have always wanted to explore. Taking skills from one area and adding them to your arsenal is a sure fire way to create some seriously impressive music!
For anyone looking for more of a conventional approach to learning piano, it’s worth checking out the Hanon guides. With exercises and content taken from virtuoso pianist Charles Louis Hanon, this library of exercises is a great way to practise scales as well as the mechanics of piano playing. It’s not quite as interactive or modern as the other sites that I’ve previously outlined. However, it’s still a fantastic basis to build upon. With 240 piano finger exercises, you can quickly build up your dexterity and fluidity when it comes to the piano. Using this as a supplemental device whilst perhaps practising more specific exercises and songs via one of the other resources is going to be a fantastic way to build up your skills incredibly quickly.
There are literally hundreds of places to learn piano online now. From simple e-books and YouTube channels to dedicated platforms, there is something to suit the needs of everyone. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned musician, these great resources are sure to improve your game. Remember that things like scales and rhythm are fundamental and always the most important things to focus on. Learning songs helps to make the whole process a lot more fun. It also helps to realise how the skills you’re learning apply within commercial music. Make sure to check out one (or all) of these fantastic resources. I guarantee that you’ll be playing the piano like a pro in no time at all!