Beginner Piano Mistakes
Between 2006 and 2008, Erol Onel, MD, worked as the director of medical affairs for Ferring Pharmaceuticals, where he founded and provided scientific leadership to the company’s urology division. When he is not working, Dr. Erol Onel enjoys playing multiple instruments, including the piano.
Learning to play the piano can be a tough but rewarding journey. These three tips will help you avoid some of the common mistakes beginners often make.
1. Posture – With so much to learn and remember, it can be tough to focus on anything but the keys in front of you, but you should take a moment to think about your posture. Poor posture at the piano can lead to muscle and back pain. Sit with your back straight and your forearms parallel to the ground. Instead of adjusting your position, try moving your seat forward or backward if you find yourself having to lean into or away from the keys.
2. Practicing Too Much – Even if you are passionate and excited by your new hobby, the key to improvement is practicing often, but for short periods of time. Trying to learn too much at once by cramming in a marathon session will only make it that much harder to remember what you learn. Instead, try to stick to just 30 minutes a day.
3. Playing Too Fast – New piano players often want to impress themselves or their instructors, so they will race through the song they just learned, playing it as quickly as they possibly can. While you are playing, keep the song’s proper timing and rhythm in mind, striving not to break it. Aside from not sounding right, fast playing is a surefire way to make more mistakes.
Erol Onel, MD, previously served as the vice president for Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he created launch strategies, study protocols, training materials, and development plans for the company. Outside of his professional life, Erol Onel is a multifaceted musician who plays a variety of instruments, including the piano.
If you are just starting out with piano or thinking of giving it a shot, these three tips will help you learn to play well.
1. Get a Teacher – The piano is a complex instrument that requires great dexterity and finely tuned motor skills. As a beginner, it is important that you do not develop any bad habits now that might stick with you for years, hampering your progress. A good piano teacher will help you practice correctly, while also teaching you what you need to be proficient on your own.
2. Play What You Like – Practice makes perfect, but if you are not motivated to practice, you will never improve. Focus on learning songs you like and want to play to keep your interest piqued.
3. Learn Music Theory – Music theory may seem intimidating now, but understanding the fundamentals behind what makes good music will help you make it yourself. Once you learn it, you will be able to play with greater freedom and versatility. Key areas of focus should include chords, note values, key signatures, and rests.
Dr. Erol Onel, an executive in pharmaceutical development at Heron Therapeutics, enjoys playing music in his free time. Dr. Erol Onel plays piano, guitar, bass, violin, and drums, and has shared his talents as a member of several bands.
For musicians playing with others in a band, teamwork is key. Band members must not only be reliable in their musicianship and skill, but also dependable as colleagues. In the world of music, this means coming to rehearsal with parts learned, equipment ready, and administrative tasks completed. Bandmates must be willing to take on the tasks assigned to them, yet must not overreach and take on tasks that belong to other people.
In rehearsal, band members should have a positive attitude and show support for fellow players. Many newcomers to the music industry carry the false assumption that cynicism and superiority is appealing, but the truth of the music business is that very few people want to play with someone who is unpleasant. A can-do spirit and pleasant persona generally gets a musician much more work.
Band members must also commit to professionalism when working with agents, venue owners, and fans. All members of the band must communicate articulately with these key personnel, while taking care to arrive on time and commit fully to every job. This shows respect to bandmates and audiences alike.