Learning Piano Is Easier Than I Remember
A couple of months ago, I came to terms with the fact that my usual weekday activities were not coming back anytime soon (e.g., pick-up basketball, happy hour with friends, etc.). I soon decided that I would use my new-found free time to learn piano using an online platform called Skoove. Fast forward to today, and I’m now regularly sending videos of myself playing songs — from John Legend to Beethoven — to my friends and family. I’ve attempted to learn piano before using lesson books, but becoming an ‘intermediate’ piano player was easier this time around. With a couple months of practice under my belt, I’ve been able to reflect on why my second attempt at learning piano has been more successful.
Multimodal Learning Reinforces Comprehension
One popular theory about the way people learn best is the VARK model. VARK identifies four primary learning types: visual, auditory, reading/writing, kinesthetic. Studies have shown that 50–70% of the population have affinities to multiple styles of learning. Visual, reading/writing, and kinesthetic learning have been my three preferred learning types. During my engineering undergrad, I would read slides and synthesize that information in my notes, reference charts/diagrams to reinforce what I read, and complete practice problems to achieve mastery.
The visual learning component was missing in my first attempt at learning piano. I would read the sheet music, but without an instructor or video, I had no reference for the correct finger movements on the piano. Proper finger placement allows you to play more fluidly and transition between chords more effectively, and this was an area where I slipped up during my first attempt at learning piano.
With Skoove, I am able to see the sheet music and finger movements side by side during each lesson. Having a virtual instructor show me the proper finger placement has dramatically reduced the number of errors I make while learning new songs, removing a lot of the frustration from the learning process.
Micro-Learning Adds Flexibility
Skoove and other similar platforms (e.g., Yousician, Flowkey, Tonara) pack short lessons, such as chord-inversions and scales, into different segments of the songs that you play.
This comes in handy on days where I’m crunched for time, but want to continue my piano playing streak. I can open up the app and play one part of a song while learning a whole new concept (e.g., semitones vs. tones). These bite-sized lessons add flexibility to the learning process and enable me to embed a few 10–20 minutes sessions into my busier days.
Utilizing micro-learning has allowed me to maintain both my learning momentum and motivation. And the ability to go back and replay individual segments of songs helps me retain the concepts delivered in each segment.
Real-Time Feedback Increases Efficiency
Innovations in audio technology have made it incredibly easy to get real time feedback on the notes you’re playing. This has been helpful for learning the songs that I’ve never heard before, as it’s difficult to get the timing down on songs that are new to me.
As soon as I play a wrong note, the bar scrolling across the staves pauses, indicating that I’ve messed up. Real-time feedback on my errors while playing has expedited the learning process for new songs.
I’ve always told myself that I would learn piano “if I only had the time.” Well I ‘found’ more time nearly overnight as the activities I used to do slowly became inaccessible. Replacing those activities with piano lessons has been rewarding, and for the reasons outlined above, the lessons have fit into my schedule seamlessly. As more activities slowly become available again (following CDC guidance), I plan to continue to make time for piano, and I hope that others are able to leverage platforms like Skoove to fit learning music into their lives!
Happy learning to future pianists!