Ways to Improve Your Improvising on Piano

Piano improvisation can seem intimidating at first. Playing the piano requires practiced coordination, and even in a beginners’ piano improvisation, the choices can be overwhelming. However, the effort pays off. Confidently improvising on the piano is decidedly impressive and can provide you with endless enjoyment. Here are a few simple steps that you can take to improve your improvising on piano.

Know the basics

Before you leap into improvisation, it can help to have a solid foundation behind you. A good place to start is with a music lessons, where you can learn important skills that nobody picks up intuitively. Things like correct hand positioning and knowledge of music theory will allow you to understand why some improvisers sound great.

Get inspired

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, when you’re improving your improvisation on the piano, it’s a great idea to allow yourself to be inspired by the music of others. Sit down with some sheet music or play along to a song you love and start making changes from there. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself playing something completely different to the original piece.

Start Out Slowly

The key to improving your improvisation on the piano is practise. Practise often and don’t get too caught up in making each phrase completely different. Repeat bars and phrases, create little riffs and licks and slowly build more complex melodies around them. Start out simply and your music will sound thoughtful and intentional.

Be creative

Improvisation is a wonderful way to stretch your imagination and creativity. Think of all the places and situations that you hear music in on any given day. Challenge yourself try different styles or improvise music for a range of purposes. There is music for every fathomable scenario and, once you are confident in your improvisation, you can sit down and play something appropriate for any moment.

Listen back

Practising improvisation constantly will help you to learn what works and what doesn’t. Recording your improvisations will give you a catalogue of all of the things that you have tried, and you can use this to build an understanding of why some things work better than others. Listening back to your recordings can be extremely encouraging. You’ll be surprised how quickly your improvisation improves.

Master Improvisation on the Right Piano

Looking for a teacher to help teach you improvisation? Maybe you need a new piano, or a tune up. No matter what it is, if it’s piano related the team at The Pianoforte can help. We’ve been Sydney’s leading experts for the last thirty years, and with three stores open seven days a week, it’s easy to contact us or pop-in for a visit. Call us in:

  • Chatswood – (02) 9411 8911
  • Seven Hills – (02) 9838 8832

5 Must Have Accessories for Your Piano

Once you have chosen the perfect piano, you’ll want to get as much enjoyment from it as possible. The easiest way to enhance your playing experience is to invest in some piano accessories. No matter what type of piano you play, the right kind of accessories can improve your comfort and help you get the most out of your piano.


If you choose to play a keyboard or digital piano, headphones are an essential accessory. A pair of good quality headphones will have you practising for longer, at any time of day or night, without the embarrassment that can come from somebody overhearing the many mistakes it takes to figure out a piece. Headphones aren’t only great for keeping sound in; if you want to make the most of the portability of your keyboard or digital piano  they are necessary for tuning the rest of the world out.

Piano Stool

When you sit down to play your piano, take a moment to consider whether your seat is helping or hindering your practise. An uncomfortable seat can lead to poor posture and hand positioning which, over time, can cause back strain and carpal tunnel. The right piano stool can allow you to play comfortably for sustained sessions, which will quickly add up to noticeable improvements in your technique. If it is not a pleasure to sit at your piano the only accumulation you’ll see is dust on your keys.

A Stand

After the time and money that you have invested in finding the right keyboard, don’t put it at risk by perching it anywhere. A keyboard stand will guarantee that your keyboard can withstand through even the most enthusiastic staccato.

A Sustain Pedal

Most pianos have a built in sustain pedal – they’re essential for creating expressiveness in pieces. If your keyboard or digital piano is not equipped with a sustain pedal, this simple accessory will allow you to add depth and feeling to your playing with very little effort.

A Metronome

Practising with a metronome prevents you from developing tempo problems. Mastering rhythm and pacing is not only a great way to improve your own playing, but it also allows you to play well with others whether in a duet or an orchestra.

Choose the Right Piano for You

No matter what type of piano you play, the team at The Pianoforte are passionate about helping you make the most out of it. We’ve been Sydney’s leading experts for the last thirty years, and with three stores open seven days a week, it’s easy to contact us or pop-in for a visit. Call us in:

  • Chatswood – (02) 9411 8911
  • Seven Hills – (02) 9838 8832

What are Dynamics and Why are They Important?

One of the defining characteristics of the piano is its capacity for a wide range of dynamic options. Notes on the piano can be both very loud, and very soft. It is, in a sense, the defining feature of the piano; unlike its predecessor, the harpsichord, which could only pluck the strings at one set volume. The hammer mechanism in the piano permits a player far greater freedom and expressivity when they play. In fact, the name ‘Pianoforte’ translates into Italian as “soft loud”, alluding to the potential for variance in volume.

What are Some Examples of Dynamics in Music?

If you cast your mind over some of your favourite songs, you’ll quickly appreciate how important dynamics are in music. Consider Blister in the Sun by Violent Femmes: without that quiet verse in the middle, contrasting with the booming choruses either side, it wouldn’t be half as recognisable. The Sex Pistols would have sounded very strange indeed if their songs were gently strummed on acoustic guitars! All of which is to say that, when it comes to virtually any piece of music, dynamics are an integral component in overall expressiveness.

How Should You Use Dynamics in Your Playing?

Often, sheet music will feature dynamic markings (like pp, p, mp, mf, f, and ff) to help inform the player. There are also accented notes, crescendos, diminuendos, and a cavalcade of other indicators. Of course, sometimes the composer isn’t as instructive as they could be with the sheet music; a prime opportunity for some personal interpretation.

Why is it that Some Pianos are Better than Others?

Even now, hundreds of years after the transcending of the harpsichord, many keyboards have a binary dynamic range. Often, cheap MIDI keyboards won’t register the pressure applied to a key. At times, a good old-fashioned analogue piano might be hobbled when it comes to dynamics. On a broken or out of tune piano, certain keys might be louder than others. Some keys might even elicit an unpleasant buzzing noise when pressed firmly. To get the best results with dynamics in piano music, there’s no substitute for a good piano in good working order.

Choose a Quality Piano

Dynamics are important for piano players. Of course, when selecting a piano or looking at how to play a piece, there are many other musical considerations; tone, timbre, timing and so much else.

If it seems a bit overwhelming, don’t worry. Whether you need a new piano, a tuning, or a new teacher, The Pianoforte can help. We’ve been Sydney’s leading experts for the last thirty years, and with three stores open seven days a week, it’s easy to contact us or pop-in for a visit. Call us in:

  • Chatswood – (02) 9411 8911
  • Seven Hills – (02) 9838 8832

How Much Should I Practice Piano Each Day?

Depending on your age, your physical health, and your level of expertise, the amount you should be practicing the piano is going to vary substantially. Everybody learning the instrument should be practicing piano each day, but how long should your daily piano practice go for, and what should it involve? Here are just a few of the things to consider when setting the length of your piano practice.

The Bare Necessities

A certain amount of practice every day is necessary to ensure that your piano skills don’t go backwards. There’s more than just allegorical truth to the notion that you become what you routinely do; when you skip practice, even just a couple of days, the neural pathways and muscle memories you have built up start to fade away.

It’s a bit like being an athlete; even if you’re already super fit, it’s important to go to the gym if you want to keep it that way! As a minimum, do five minutes of practice every day so you can retain what you’ve previously learned.

How Much Do You Have to Practice in Order to Get Better?

Different people improve at playing the piano at different rates. Additionally, your progress won’t always chart as a straight line going up; experienced players sometimes spend years feeling as though they’ve plateaued. There will be struggles, gaps, dips, and, thankfully, the occasional epiphany – those glorious moments where you can suddenly do things you never thought yourself capable of!

The important thing is to put the time in. You can’t necessarily predict when you’re going to get better, but your likelihood of having a breakthrough is much higher if you’re practicing regularly. Beginners should aim to practice for at least thirty minutes a day.

Keep it Focused

It’s not just the amount of time you practice: it’s the way you use it. Just like anything else, it takes longer to complete an activity you’re dreading than one you’re enthusiastic about. Nobody ever got better just sitting and staring at the keys. In a focused and dedicated manner, try to use all of your practice time wisely.

Don’t Over Exert Yourself!

As important as it is to practice often and well, you have to be mindful not to take it too far. Over-practicing, or practicing in the wrong way, can lead to all sorts of trouble, like muscular pain or a repetitive strain injury.

A small level of discomfort might be normal or even necessary, but an injury that prevents you from practicing in the future is going to be worse for you in the long run.

Practice Makes Perfect on the Perfect Piano

Make sure you’re practicing the right things, in the right way, with the right equipment. Whether you need a new piano, a tuning, or a new teacher, The Pianoforte can help. We’ve been Sydney’s leading experts for the last thirty years, and with three stores open seven days a week, it’s easy to contact us or pop-in for a visit. Call us in:

  • Chatswood – (02) 9411 8911
  • Seven Hills – (02) 9838 8832

Guide to Piano Practice With a Metronome

Some people seem to have an innate sense of rhythm, but for most people, accurately keeping time when playing music is difficult to master. Drummers and percussionists often only develop good timing after years of practice. It’s similar for piano players; whether you’re playing on your own or as part of an ensemble, learning how to keep time and pace can be a hard-won skill. That’s why practicing with a metronome is so important. Playing piano with metronome accompaniment helps you measure out the piece, approach it at the right tempo, and keep steady time. Here are just a few of the things you’ll need to know when you’re practicing the piano with a metronome: 

What is a Metronome?

In Greek, the word ‘metronome’ means ‘law of the measure’, an appropriate name since the device sets the rules for the pace of a piece. Metronomes, which can either be analogue or digital, emit a sound on each beat. On an old-fashioned metronome, you can set the speed of the beat by sliding a weight up and down the pendulum-like shaft. More recently, keyboards have had electronic metronomes built into them. Most metronomes can be set anywhere from 40 to 240 beats per minute; very few songs would be faster or slower than that.

Identify technical issues

Technical issues might be detracting from your playing without you even realising. By playing a piece with a metronome, sections where a player is dragging or rushing become glaringly obvious. A good way of identifying where you might need to work is by playing one bar at a time, or scales, to the clicking of a metronome. It’s wise to pay close attention to any sections where the rhythm becomes uneven.

Get Up to Speed

When you’re practicing privately, it’s often necessary to play a piece much slower than you would when performing publicly. There’s so much to consider when learning a piece of music like the dynamics, where to accent, and figuring out how to solve technical problems (like playing Rachmaninoff when you have small hands!)

With a metronome, you can start playing a piece at a slower rate, giving you time to get your ears around all the different elements at play. Then, as you solve some of the problems the piece presents, you can gradually increase the beats per minute until it’s ready to play for others.

Play to the Right Beat

Make sure you’re practicing the right things, in the right way, with the right equipment. Whether you need a new metronome, or a new teacher to help you use one correctly, The Pianoforte can help. We’ve been Sydney’s leading experts for the last thirty years, and with three stores open seven days a week, it’s easy to contact us or pop-in for a visit. Call us in:

  • Chatswood – (02) 9411 8911
  • Seven Hills – (02) 9838 8832

What to Look for in a Piano Teacher

What to Look for in a Piano Teacher

When you’re organising piano lessons, either for yourself or your children, it’s important that you choose the right instructor. Great educators discover talent and inspire a passion for learning. On the other hand, the wrong teacher can irreparably spoil a subject for life! Here are just a few things to look out for when selecting a private piano teacher.

Personality is more important than you might think.

Learning a musical instrument is hard work, and mastery requires countless hours of practice. People who aren’t motivated to learn are far less likely to put the effort in. That’s why it’s vital to have good personal chemistry in a student-teacher relationship; you want a teacher who you look forward to seeing and who gives you the confidence you need to improve, rather than an instructor with whom learning feels like a chore.

What are you hoping to get out of Piano lessons?

Who you choose as a piano teacher depends on what, precisely, you want to learn. For example, let’s say that Jazz is your passion, and your dream is to get to the point where you can improvise a solo with a band. If that were the case, it would probably be remiss to select as your instructor a harpsichord enthusiast who refuses to listen to any piece of music composed after the eighteenth century. Conversely, if you’ve got your sights set on classical virtuosity, make sure you choose somebody with the insight and know-how to help you reach your goals. As with any field of endeavour, if you have a clear idea of where you want to go, it’s much easier to establish how to get there.

Make sure the price is right.

Just because somebody is charging more doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the superior teacher. Make sure you do your due diligence and ensure that you’re getting a good price, as well as a good piano teacher. Similarly, a convenient location will help cut down on the time and money you’re spending.

A Good Piano for a Good Piano Teacher

Now you know what to look for in a piano teacher, but that’s only half the preparation needed to start lessons! Do you need to buy a piano? Maybe you already have one but require tuning or a repair.

No matter what you need, the team at The Pianoforte will be able to help you out. We’ve been Sydney’s leading experts for the last thirty years, and with three stores open seven days a week, it’s easy to contact us or pop-in for a visit. Call us in:

  • Chatswood – (02) 9411 8911
  • Seven Hills – (02) 9838 8832

How to Keep Up with Piano Homework

Keeping up with piano homework is one of the biggest hurdles that beginner pianists encounter. In between work or study, family time and social events, it can seem impossible to find time to practice your instrument. However, if you’re serious about learning piano, regular practice is the single most important thing you can do to improve your skills. We’ve listed our top tips to help you stay on track with your piano homework.

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Learning on a Digital Piano vs Learning on an Acoustic Piano

If you’re interested in learning to play the piano, it’s essential that you have an instrument at home to practice on. The choice of digital piano vs acoustic piano can be a tricky decision to make. While both have their benefits, some players are naturally drawn to one or the other. To help you make up your mind, we’ve written the handy guide that explains some of the major differences between digital and acoustic pianos.

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How Long Does It Take to Become Good at Piano?

It takes time to master any skill, whether it’s learning a foreign language or playing a new sport. Learning to play piano is no different. It takes time, effort and commitment to become a proficient pianist. How long it takes to achieve your goal depends on what you wish to achieve. If you’re interested in memorising a few simple songs, you could learn the basics of piano in a few weeks or months. But if your goal involves playing professionally or in an orchestra, you’re in for a lifetime of constant learning and practice.

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Mastering Sight Reading

Sight-reading is an essential skill that all piano players must learn. Most pianists don’t have the opportunity or ability to memorise an entire piece of music, so it’s important to be able to play and read at the same time. Some beginner pianists can feel overwhelmed by the prospect of learning to sight read. However, with a little dedication and commitment, sight reading mastery is possible for any musician. We’ve listed some useful hints to help you get started and stay motivated.

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