The core skills of a pianist

Like a skyscraper that is held up by its supporting structures which are in turn attached to its foundation, a pianist’s ability to play piano is supported by their own foundation and supporting core skills. After all, a skyscraper doesn’t stand up by magic or dreams alone and before you can build up, you need to dig down. The higher you want to go the stronger the foundation needs to be. The higher you want to go in Piano the more important establishing a strong foundation becomes. If playing piano is your dream then it’s my honor to help you understand how that foundation can be built so you can succeed.

One mistake made when learning piano is to let your excitement take over to the point that you attempt to build higher and faster than the core skills are ready to support. There are so many ways this can happen, but here are two examples: someone might try to learn sight reading before they have developed the supporting skill of reading notes, or take on too challenging of a piece that their piano technique isn’t ready to handle. The result is usually some kind of failure like an injury, or feeling like you can’t ever do this, so you give up. What I’m saying is, if you don’t train your core skills, you will struggle to get very far before hitting a wall.

You must understand that we’re playing the long game about giving you a path to learn piano. In order to build up you need to train all the skills needed so you can be awesome at piano.

So what are the core skills? Rhythm, Reading, Technique, Hearing, Memory, Knowledge, and Impact.

  1. Rhythm - your ability to understand and execute different ratios of time. You can train this through clapping, and metronome exercises.

  2. Reading - your mental ability to quickly read and execute what you see on sheet music. Begin by learning to read each note with trainers, then learn intervals and read intervallically, once your reading improves, you can begin sight reading practice.

  3. Technique - your physical ability and conditioning to play things on the keyboard that require, strength, stamina, flexibility and dexterity. You can improve these skills with scales, chords, arpeggios, chromatic scales, hanon exercises and other trainers.

  4. Hearing - your ability to pick out chords, intervals, melodies, scales, etc by hearing them. You begin ear training by learning to hear and identify intervals, then move onto more complex tasks like chord, and cadence recognition as well as melody playback.

  5. Memory - your ability to absorb new information and execute it from memory. Your working memory speed and capacity is trained through experience and can also be improved with some memory techniques.

  6. Knowledge - your understanding of music, theory, and other practice or performance techniques. This can be trained by taking music theory courses and writing tests.

  7. Impact - your ability to emotionally impact your audience. This can be improved through performing, getting feedback and also recording and listening to yourself play to gradually improve how your music sounds. This is one of the most complex things to learn as you need to combine many other skills together to get the final impact with your audience.

I’d love to be able to explain how to train all of these core skills more in depth, but email wouldn’t work for that because of how much detail needs to go into it and a video, audio, and interactive format in an app. That’s why all these core skills either have now or will have their own trainers in our Piano Planet app, so you are able to train these skills in one place. As you train these skills, you will reach places in piano that aren’t possible right now. Anyone can access piano planet, if you don’t have the money because of your situation, you can apply for a scholarship to get free access, and if you are able to pay you will be supporting this mission plus giving access to someone else who is less fortunate.