How to Improve Piano Playing Skills: 15 Steps

Table of contents:

How to Improve Piano Playing Skills: 15 Steps
How to Improve Piano Playing Skills: 15 Steps

You've started learning to play the piano, but find it difficult to improve your skills? Are you taking piano classes, but feel that you are not making progress? Or maybe you have experience playing the piano, but need to improve on your existing skills? If the answer is yes, you need to learn to improve your piano playing skills.

In this article, we will show you how to improve your piano playing skills. This article also contains information for those of you who are self-taught (relying on hearing), using guide materials such as books and DVDs, or taking lessons from a professional teacher. Therefore, if you feel that you have mastered certain steps, go ahead and read the next steps. Happy reading!


Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 1
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 1

Step 1. Manage study and practice time

Take special time to practice and demonstrate a commitment to learning. Try not to let anything interfere with your hours of practice. Commitment to practice is an important aspect of improving your skills.

  • If you don't have the time to dedicate an equal day and hour to practicing, try making a schedule.
  • Use the reminders on your regular device to remind you of training hours. If the use of the device is considered less than optimal, prepare an agenda book.
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 2
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 2

Step 2. Plan the exercise

While this may not be necessary in the end, at first when you are learning something new, it is important that you know what to learn in the next training session so that you can measure the progress shown. A plan like this is designed so that you can track progress in your knowledge and skills, not as a benchmark against which you will be disappointed if you fail to make the desired progress within the expected timeframe. If you feel like some concepts or material are taking a lot of time to master, don't worry. The important thing is that in the end, you get the hang of it.

Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 3
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 3

Step 3. Improve the ability to read music notation

Success in following the steps or tips in this article will depend (or improve) on your ability to read musical notation. You can do several things as follows:

  • Learn how to read piano notation if you haven't already. Make sure you understand most of the basic concepts of musical notation. If you want to improve your overall piano playing skills, you'll need to learn more complex aspects of musical notation, such as dynamics, tempo, key/key and time signature, clefs, and more. Just knowing how to read notes and their distance/length is not enough.
  • Learn how to skim piano notation. This can improve your ability to translate and understand notes/scores into melodious piano notes.
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 4
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 4

Step 4. Improve finger placement and increase finger movement speed when playing the piano

  • Learn finger stretching exercises before you start playing the piano.
  • Learn proper finger placement on the keys if you haven't already. Correct finger placement on the keys is an important aspect of developing more complex skills/abilities.
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 5
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 5

Step 5. Practice different scales using proper finger placement

Start practicing the scales up, then down, then up and down. For each basic note, practice the scale at least five times with proper fingering.

  • Try practicing two or three scales before each practice session. Do this, either when you are practicing under the guidance of a teacher, or when you have free time allotted specifically to study and practice the piano.
  • Try practicing with scores that contain finger numbers, especially if it's your first time practicing with sheet music. This way, you can play the music just right. When you later play more difficult pieces, fingering is very important.
  • Practice at a higher speed. Set the metronome to a slower pace/tempo and once you've mastered one speed level, switch to a faster one. Exercises like this help develop muscle memory. When learning a new song or scale, start slowly, but make sure you follow the beat and timing of the song exactly. After that, start speeding up the tempo of the song and keep proper intervals between each note. For example, when practicing the simple C major scale, you might start by playing each note (C, D, E, F, G, A, B) as a full note. After that, play each note as a half or two quarter note (make sure each note is played continuously/uninterruptedly), then play each note as a quarter note (1/4), and so on. If you make a mistake, start over from the beginning. Do this exercise for half an hour until you can do it without making a mistake.
  • Practice proper fingering for chords. You can find many resources on the internet that describe the correct fingering for each chord. Sometimes, you can find more than one optimal fingering position for a chord. It actually depends on your preferences. Therefore, follow a position/guide that makes you feel comfortable when playing the chord in question (especially when moving from one chord to the next).
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 6
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 6

Step 6. Memorize and practice the scales, especially the ones that are used the most

Learn all major scales, harmonic minor, melodic minor and chromatic. Master and practice these scales. Also, if you play a certain style/genre of music (e.g. blues, jazz, etc.), learn the scales that are typical of that genre.

Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 7
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 7

Step 7. Memorize and practice chords

Chords are notes that are played simultaneously (on a piano, several keys are pressed at the same time).

  • Start by learning the most basic chords.
  • Learn different chord inversion patterns. Try to learn when and at what changes each of these inversions was used.
  • Practice chords by playing chord progressions. Start with a simple chord progression, such as the C-F-G progress. Once you've mastered these chord progressions, practice other, more complex chord progressions.
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 8
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 8

Step 8. Develop your musical sensitivity and dexterity by practicing listening to the pieces and recognizing the notes

Try following these steps:

  • Start with a simple, slow song. Try to find the notes of the song on the piano through the trial process. Make sure you always practice slowly before playing a song quickly. It's a good idea to follow step-by-step in the exercises, rather than going straight to difficult material.
  • Try naming the notes on the song after you listen to it, and write down the notes.
  • After you've finished listening to a section of the song, try playing the notes you wrote down and see how similar the notes you play are to the notes on the original song you were listening to.
  • You can also create a scoring system and try to test yourself. Don't worry if you only manage to play a few notes at first. Learn from the mistakes made. Little by little, you will be able to write down all the notes in the song correctly.
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 9
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 9

Step 9. Improve the ability to “play music” in the mind

With this ability, you can play songs or works in your own mind. You can do this in the following way:

  • Look at the scores and try to play the notes in your mind. At first, you may find it difficult to do so, so try playing the notes one at a time. For starters, you can also use a voice recording device and read musical notes by humming while recording them. Once you've shown progress, start recording longer sections of notation before taking a break to read the next section of notation. This way, you can speed-read and “play” snippets of songs, melodies, and even whole pieces in your mind.
  • After that, try playing the rehearsed pieces on the piano and see how similar you can play them.
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 10
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 10

Step 10. Make sure you show proper posture when practicing the piano

Improper posture can cause muscle pain so that your body becomes stiffer. You also can't play a piece well, smoothly when you practice with the right posture.

  • Adjust the position of your pelvis in line with the middle C key (middle C).
  • Sit up straight. Do not tilt your body towards/away from the keys.
  • Relax your body. Don't train with a rigid body.
  • Make sure your fingers are slightly bent downwards (the keys), as when you are holding an apple. Do not position your fingers perpendicular to the keys. Also, don't bend your finger upwards.
  • If you are new to playing the piano, pay attention to your little finger. For beginners, sometimes the position of the little finger is higher than the position of the other fingers. Try to keep the little fingers of both hands in the same position as the other fingers. At first, you may need to practice this, but keep practicing until your little finger is naturally in the right position.
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 11
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 11

Step 11. Practice your favorite piece or song first

You can search the internet for lots of free sheet music or buy songbooks and scores from music stores. You can also download the MIDI file of the song or piece you want to learn and turn it into a score using certain programs, such as MuseScore.

  • Start by playing the piece at a very slow tempo. For starters, the most important thing is that you get to know the progress of the notes and chords of the song.
  • Save your worries about timing adjustments for the next exercise. Once you have mastered the progress and development of the work, start perfecting the timing. Make sure each note is played at the right length and at the right time.
  • Make up song sections as you study them. Learn and master each part of the song, then move on to the next after one part is mastered. This section can be a melody, chord progression, chorus, and so on.
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 12
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 12

Step 12. Improve your left and right hand coordination

This upgrade can be done by following these steps:

  • Do coordination exercises before you practice the piano. Using a metronome is helpful because you can practice coordination at different tempos.
  • When practicing more complex pieces, start by working the right hand first, then the left hand (or vice versa). After that, try practicing the piece by playing both parts (left hand and right hand). Don't be in a hurry when you practice. Once you've mastered one section, move on to the next, and not the previous one.
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 13
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 13

Step 13. Practice performing in public

It's important that you get used to performing in public and don't feel tense or nervous when you play the wrong notes.

  • Try to appear in front of a group of people you know first (eg family, friends, etc.).
  • Increase the number of viewers gradually.
  • Start to appear at private events such as picnics, holidays, parties, and others.
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 14
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 14

Step 14. Take advantage of modern technology if you practice the piano yourself

There are a variety of programs and hardware designed to help with training and skill development. Some of them are:

  • Use a metronome. This device is used to practice timing and tempo in playing the piano, as well as to adjust the overall playing of the piano with time.
  • piano program. Programs like this are beneficial for developing musical sensitivity and dexterity, as well as the ability to read/play music in the mind.
  • Music notation programs, such as MuseScore. Programs like this are useful for converting MIDI files into scores. This program is also useful for storing, managing, and printing digital scores. In addition, you can also use this program in the process of composing music.
  • Music play programs and practice guide programs, such as Synthesia and PrestoKeys. Such guided games and programs are used to practice reading scores using a MIDI keyboard or piano (in which case, the game being played will not save the score).
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 15
Improve Your Piano Playing Skills Step 15

Step 15. Learn fingering techniques

Efficient fingering will help you a lot when the techniques are there. Compare fingering to mathematical multiplication. If you were given a question like 5 plus 5 100 times, would you do it as “5 + 5 + 5 + ….” or “5 x 100”? Of course you will follow the second way, right? The same goes for fingering. If you can follow a more efficient fingering technique, why not? It may take some extra time to figure out the most suitable fingering position/technique for you. However, the extra time you spend now can help you save time later if you need to change your fingering position/technique when playing a song.

  • Get to know how your hand muscles work. Usually, to recognize it you only need to rely on logic. For example, you can easily point to something with your index finger. However, what about the ring finger? Now, try assigning a number to each finger (thumb= 1, index finger= 2, middle finger= 3, ring finger= 4, little finger= 5). We (the writing team) are not experts in the field of human anatomy, but it is possible that the thumb and index finger have their own muscles, while the middle, ring, and little fingers have muscles that are interconnected. Therefore, do not follow painful fingering positions/techniques, such as pressing the middle C key with the little finger, then pressing the E key with the thumb, followed by the G key with the ring finger.
  • Buy scores or musical notes. If you can afford it, scores will be the thing to help you. Usually, scores come with fingering information (for some notes you need to know), and people usually test the finger positions before scores or musical notes are traded. You can also photocopy scores or musical notes if you want, but make sure you're not violating copyright.


  • It's true that some people can play the piano and perform beautifully without having to be proficient at reading sheet music or notation. However, you will benefit greatly from learning musical notation (as well as the ones mentioned earlier). Some of the steps described in this article will feel easy to follow with the ability to read music notation (in fact, some of them are impossible without it).
  • Do not ever give up. If you don't understand at first, repeat and practice again. If you can't get a feel for the "soul" of a particular piece, method, or technique after trying it, try playing the piece at a slower pace or breaking it up into sections. Study the small parts, then put them all together.
  • It never hurts to learn other genres of music, besides the genres that interest you. Of course it will not make your abilities decrease. In fact, usually as you broaden your knowledge of different musical genres, your piano playing skills will improve.
  • Never measure progress against time. Be happy only when you can learn something new or master a skill you didn't have before. It may take you a year to learn one concept or technique, but only a month to master a different concept/technique.
  • Don't directly upload performance videos or practice sessions to public sites like YouTube until you've reached a certain level. Don't let other people's criticism discourage you.
  • Also, never measure your progress based on other people's progress/ability. It doesn't matter how long it takes your cousin to master a technique or how well she plays the piano now. What matters is that you are making progress (albeit slowly, but surely) and that you remain dedicated to showing progress.
  • Practice every day to hone your piano playing skills. One hour is sufficient practice time, but if you want, you can divide the time (eg 20 minutes in the morning and 40 minutes in the afternoon).
  • When playing new works, try to find the work you need to play on YouTube. By listening to the work, you can get an idea of what to do to be able to play it well.
  • Occasionally record yourself while playing the piano. In this way, you can see the advantages and disadvantages that exist. These videos help you improve your piano playing skills and point out certain aspects that you need to develop or improve.


  • When practicing, don't play too fast. Play the work at full speed after you have finished studying the work in question (eg when you are going to perform the work in public). If you play a piece at a fast tempo and don't play it at a slow tempo, your fingers will begin to "forget" the notes that need to be played. When the piece is played at a tempo that is too fast, your fingers will only get used to the keys that need to be pressed and sooner or later, you will realize that you can only play the song from the beginning, and not from other parts. This means, when you make a mistake in the middle of a song, you can't continue the song from the same point and have to start playing the piece from the beginning.
  • Keep your expectations in check, but make sure you stay realistic. Upgrading skills takes a lot of time. Sometimes, it can also be very frustrating and time consuming.
  • If you have a physical disorder (eg a spinal disorder), you may need to adapt all aspects (eg technique or posture) to your body condition rather than following it as normal people do. You can still gain the skill and enjoyment of playing the piano by adapting your techniques to your physical limitations rather than having to force yourself to do things you can't do. If you feel pain when you show a "normal" posture for playing the piano, adjust your posture so that you can reach the keys and press them without feeling pain.
  • If you have small hands or fingers (or both), you may not be able to do proper fingering on a regular piano. Therefore, try using an electric keyboard with smaller keys. Pianos are usually designed for those who have big hands, with long fingers. If you want to become a skilled amateur piano player, you don't really have to practice or play a normal piano, especially if you like the variety of effects that electric keyboards have to offer. Or, if you are learning the piano to compose music that will later be played with other instruments, using an acoustic piano is not a must.

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