The process of learning to play the piano is a lot like learning anything else. Believe it or not, there are really very few restrictions on what a person can learn. Although sometimes people forget this, the fact is, we humans are amazing learning machines. Think about it for a moment. We are literally programmed to soak in information, integrate it into our own understanding, and apply it in our own unique ways. Every single child learns to speak at least one entire language (and sometimes two or even more). Learning a language requires mastery of many hundreds or even thousands of sounds, meanings and nuances. And yet it is done, day after day, year after year, all throughout the history of humanity.
In fact, constantly, throughout our lives we are learning from those around us. Whether at school, at work, or with our families, we are constantly gaining new ideas and understandings from the other people we interact with on a daily basis. In every instance, there is one very important factor at work: modeling. What we learn, and how we learn it, is shaped largely by the source from which we learn it, because we learn by imitating or modeling that source. Furthermore, what a person learns is consistent with what has been modelled for them. Would a child who was surrounded by people speaking Chinese somehow magically grow up instead speaking English? Not very likely! He or she would learn Chinese because that is what is being modeled.
This might seem to be an obvious point, but it has huge implications when it comes to learning to play piano, where modeling is equally essential. Even self-taught pianists at the very least listen to or watch recordings of other pianists and then take that style and learn to copy it, or at least incorporate it into their own style. Although that works for the rare few who have the dedication and stick-to-it-iveness to learn simply from watching and listening to others from a distance, the truth is most people need some sort of ongoing, hands-on guidance in order to achieve a high degree of skill at playing. They need to be shown how to do it, and shown consistently enough and for a long enough amount of time until they get it. This modeling process is the same as it is for a child learning to speak.
People take piano lessons because that is what works to help them learn. Having a good piano teacher is really the best way to get the support, the ongoing feedback mechanism that can truly help you progress consistently. Consistency of modeling is a crucial benefit of good mentoring. It facilitates learning that would be difficult or oftentimes impossible to attain otherwise. Most people do not have the time or patience to go out on their own and seek the knowledge and not quit until they get it. When it comes to learning to play piano, in most cases it will be better to turn to someone who already knows how to do it who can show you.
In all walks of life, the process of learning is really quite simple. All you need is someone to show you how. I would assert that this is true even for the person who prides him or herself on learning by experimentation. There are great lessons that can be gained from experimenting. But normally even this needs to be modeled by someone. When I was a kid, my dad improvised at the piano. This demonstrated to me that I could do it too. And so, yes, I experimented, but not before seeing someone else do it. Again, experimentation was modeled for me.
Even with this modeling of playing and experimenting at the piano, I still needed to go to a piano teacher to grow my playing and music skills. The weekly motivation and feedback I received was crucial in helping me to maintain my progress those early years of piano playing. I do not think I would have gotten as far as I have without it.
And so I believe in the enormous power of seeking out a good teacher. No matter what you are doing or wanting to do, there are people with more knowledge than you that are willing to help. The more we seek out good mentors, in my opinion, no matter the area of life, the more we can grow, the more we can attain, and the more we can express our highest vision of ourselves and realize the potential that is within us.
Ready to stop waiting and start getting the guidance you need to learn to play piano? Get started today!