Can I teach myself piano?

Piano Teaching Books
Wondering if you can learn the piano on your own? yes you can. Here’s over view of the skills and techniques you will need to learn to make it happen.

It’s not easy.

It is difficult, it can feel like an overwhelming amount of information and skills to learn. We don’t like to sugar coat it here, this is not easy and is going to take time and effort.. It isn’t about that though, it’s about taking on the things and challenges you want to. 

Still there are advantages to learning to play a piano at any age. It can relieve stress and keep your brain stimulated. It is also just plain enjoyable and fun to learn and play music and show off this new skill to some friends. But can you do this on your own?

Teaching yourself piano.

Continuous learning is often promoted for self improvement or just a way to keep your mind engaged. Most methods rely on using external sources, such as books or videos to teach yourself. When it comes to piano, this method tends to be flipped on its head. While you will utilize external sources to get started and often have a teacher. You then spend long hours teaching yourself. In essence piano students already spend much of their time learning on their own.. 

Since learning to play piano is an endless pursuit where you can always find improvements to be made. A risk traditional students face is stagnation when they can no longer rely on or have a good piano teacher.  They have not been taught how to improve on their own and take on the responsibility needed to improve their own ability. You will need to take on and develop this self development skill set. So yes, with determination you can teach yourself to play piano.

Will I be any good?

A major challenge you will face is you don’t know what you don’t know. While a pianist taking lessons from a teacher often has an advantage starting out by setting up a solid foundation to build from. That advantage is not as great as it once was. There are many tools and resources online that narrow and eliminate that gap. We would recommend taking advantage of them when you first start out to give yourself a leg up. It will take a certain level of internal drive to work through the difficult and repetitive tasks one needs to do when learning a new skill. Taking ownership of your own training can be really motivating and propel you forward.  There’s no reason you can’t work to become a decent pianist.

Note: A weak foundation can lead to improper technique that will require correcting later. Pay very close attention when learning a new skill that you are getting it correct. You’ll always find ways to improve it, but you want to avoid any major technical errors. 

How to Teach Myself the Piano?

While self-training may pose some challenges, having the right ingredients makes the process enjoyable and of benefit. Teaching yourself to play the piano requires working on these key areas. The first area is fairly obvious, you will need to learn how to read sheet music. The second area that every pianist must improve is ear skills. The third key area is mastering rhythmic skills. The last part is you must have an effective and regular practice routine that brings all these skills together. As you improve these skills, teaching yourself the piano becomes a process you can follow and improve on.

Reading and Ear Skills

While both are essential to your playing, reading allows you to play a variety of styles. If you put the time in to read music notation. It becomes relatively easy and straightforward to play when that music is expressed as sheet music. Conversely, playing by ear means playing without using the sheet music, which is often  applied in contemporary music such as Jazz and Blues.  It’s not uncommon for pianists to favour  one style of playing over the other but they still work to improve both skills. 

Reading skills help you recognize the different patterns.  The ability to identify the shapes of your chords, scales, harmonic structure and arpeggios among other patterns. Faster identification of the different patterns translates to improved playing. 

Ear skills depend on tuning your ear to hear the different variations in scales, notes and progressions. Continued listening and paying attention to details while listening to piano music will help develop those ear skills.

At the end of the day, you want to blend the two skills together to make you a more versatile and well rounded pianist. 

Rhythm Skills

Rhythm forms the heartbeat of music. Teaching yourself how to rhyme with different rhythms expands one’s experience in them. 

This skill takes time to develop. Continued learning lends  one in a better position to identify and interpret different rhythms correctly. The first thing you need to learn is the different counts and tempo. Playing along different tempos from slow to fast will lead to mastering different rhythms quickly. The metronome is a very useful and annoying tool that should  be employed in learning your varying rhythms and ensure that you play steadily.

Often overlooked is the need to record and monitor your own playing. In order to learn your different rhythms correctly, you also need to listen to your playing to identify the areas you need improvement in. 

As you challenge yourself with harder music, separating your beat into different sections that you can focus on.  Lastly, trying to play with the accompaniments will force you to improve  your rhythm skills.

Focus on Technique

Learning different techniques might feel like an uphill task, but determination and  focus will bring the skill home. This means determining  the right fingering while also applying different playing techniques to different styles. Mastering the different techniques available renders a pianist with the power to command any genre easily. Besides, it takes careful and consistent learning specific techniques at a time until you are fluent in them.

For beginners, the best place to start is learning correct hand posture, finger technique  and the right fingerings to use. As you progress, learning to properly utilize  the pedals becomes an important skill for every beginner.

As you improve your ability you will add arpeggios and more technical exercises that really work your fingers flexibility and dexterity. Practice should aim at ensuring that your technique helps in expressing the music in the most convincing way.

Practice the Right Way.

Perfect practice makes perfect. While knowledge accounts for 20% of your skill, 80% is on how you practice. The piano is skill-based and is learned by playing. A self-taught pianist must employ the right practicing techniques with consistency by putting in the required work. Whether reading or learning by ear, the pianist must dedicate time to consistent, quality practice. 

While it might seem counter intuitive. Slowing down your practice speed to minimize mistakes first helps in creating a more productive practice. Even if you end up practicing fewer techniques during your session. Practicing fewer things correctly counts for more than practicing many things wrong.


Self-learning is an effective way to learn piano.. While it takes more than just passion to be successful when learning new skills on your own, there are benefits as well. The use of teachers   can be used to augment you learning the piano.Generally though it’s the roadblocks you throw up in your own mind that you need to overcome and start your journey no matter how late in life you decide to start playing the piano

You May Also Like