How to teach yourself to play professional piano

Learn the key to playing professional piano when you teach yourself

“Can you teach yourself to play piano?” This is one of the most asked questions when discussing playing the piano. Many people desire to play professional piano. However, they don’t have the funds or resources to get professional piano lessons. Therefore, the next question becomes. “How can I teach myself to play piano?” “Is it even possible to teach yourself to play piano?” The short answer is yes. You can teach yourself to play professional piano. However, the long answer is explaining the process. Below is a step by step guiding explaining how you can teach yourself to play professional piano.

gorgeous grand piano
Learn the 8 powerful steps to teaching yourself how to play professional piano

1) Playing strictly by ear

Many that want to learn how to play professional piano and teach themselves ask, “can I learn by ear?” This question is really popular for those who have good ear. The answer is yes and no. Yes you can teach yourself by ear. Especially if you have a good ear, and definitely if you have perfect pitch. However, you’ll only be able to teach yourself to play the melody. This is great for singers. However, it’s so much more to playing the piano as a professional than just playing the melody. So yes there are some aspects of playing the piano that you can teach yourself by ear. But to teach yourself to play the piano fluently, it goes deeper than playing by ear.

2) Need keyboard

4 octave keyboard
If you don’t have access to a piano, practicing with a keyboard will do. Just make sure it’s at least 4 octaves (49 keys) or more.

In order to teach yourself to play professional piano the first thing you need is a keyboard. If you have an actual piano that’s even better. However, a keyboard will suffice. As long as your keyboard has at least 4 octaves (49 keys) that’s good. You’ll need this for hands on practicing. Of course if you can get a keyboard with more keys then do so.

3) Need main music book

The next item you’ll need to teach yourself how to play professional piano is a main music book. The more you learn about playing the piano and music theory, the more books you’ll have. However, when you first start you’ll have a main book as your guide. This music book should be a step by step guide on how to play the piano. Also make sure this book explains music theory. You can’t only learn hands on training in regards to playing. You also have to learn what you’re playing. Why you’re playing it. How long you should play it. How loud or soft you should play and much more. This is where music theory comes in. Which is why you’ll need a music book that allows you to teach yourself. Below are a list of great music books that guides you on teaching yourself how to play the piano. There are for adult learners but children 10 and older can use them as well.

alfred adult piano book for teaching yourself professional piano
Teaching yourself professional piano with a level 1 book such as “Alfred’s Basic Adult Piano” is a great start

4) Finger drills book

The next item you’ll need to teach yourself how to play professional piano is a finger drills book. This is a book full of a variety of finger drills you practice on the piano or keyboard. Finger drills are exercises you practice daily to advance your piano playing. They help you to play faster, smoother and allow you to develop technique. Finger drills for piano playing is what vocal exercises are to the voice. It’s also what working out is to the body. Below are some books filled with amazing finger drills.

5) The pillars of playing piano

Teaching yourself how to play piano with the 2 types of books mentioned above is a great start. However, to become a true professional pianist, you have to come up with a system. You have to learn the pillars of playing the piano. The pillars are:

  • Scales (Major, 3 types of minor – natural, harmonic, melodic)
  • Chords (with their 1st and 2nd inversions)
  • Chord progressions

The reason why learning these 3 pillars as a pianist is so important, because they are the building blocks of music. Scales make up chords. Chords make up chord progressions. Chord progressions make up songs. Once you master these 3 areas you’ll be able to play countless songs, work with other musicians and understand the essence of piano.


Scales (music scales) are a group of notes ordered in a sequence that follows a particular pattern. There are different types of music scales. A scale can be major or minor. However, if it’s a minor scale it can be 1 of 3. It can be a natural, harmonic or melodic minor scale. All of these scales have their own pattern they follow. The pattern is based on whether the distance between the notes are a whole step or a half step. To completely grasp this concept you would need to learn music theory.

the c major scale
The easiest and most basic music scale you can learn is the C Major Scale.


Chords are 3 or more music notes played together at the same time. Chord inversions is when any note besides the root note is now played on the bottom of the chord. Basically the original order of notes in the chord are switched around. However, you’re still playing the same notes. Just in a different order.

the c major chord
The C Major Chord is the easiest chord you can learn. It derives from the C Major Scale.

Chord Progressions:

A chord progression is when music chords are played in a series. They usually follow a pattern and are played in a certain order. Chord progressions play a big role in making up songs.

a 1,4,5 chord progression
Chord progressions is when you move from one chord to the next in a pattern

Once you learn these 3 pillars of music practice playing them everyday. Practice one music scale until you’ve mastered it. Once you have move on to the next scale. Also practice your chords and chord progressions daily.

6) Put together a schedule

In order to see a difference with teaching yourself how to play piano, you have to put together a schedule. Don’t just practice randomly, or when you feel like it. You have to practice every single day. Or as many days a week as you can. To keep your discipline and to have structure it’s best that you write out a schedule. Remember you’re teaching yourself. That means no one is there to push you. You have to take the initiative and do it.

7) YouTube tutorials

No matter how many books you read, or how disciplined you may be. When learning an instrument sometimes you need hands on coaching. However, if you’re teaching yourself this may cause a dilemma. To get an actual visual of what you should be learning, watch YouTube tutorial videos along with teaching yourself. Some of the best beginner tutorials for teaching yourself how to play professional piano are:

YouTube tutorial for teaching yourself professional piano
Watching YouTube tutorials along with teaching yourself how to play professional piano is a way to get a visual of what you’re actually doing.

8) Hire a mentor

After you’ve kicked off the beginning steps of teaching yourself how to play piano. To make sure you’re on the right path, hire a mentor. I’m not talking about hiring an actual piano teacher. Of course that would defeat your purpose of teaching yourself. But you should invest in someone that knows how to play piano, and will allow you to double check your work with them. For instance, if you have a music theory question you can ask him or her. If you’re confused about how to play something accurately, you can consult your piano mentor. The best way to hire a mentor is to ask around. You’d be surprised at how many people know how to play piano, or read music. You can also network and meet someone who knows how to play. Below are a list of public places where you can meet musicians who you can hire to mentor you and help you through the process of teaching yourself.

  • Church – you can meet musicians that play and read music
  • Karaoke establishments
  • Music schools – you can connect with teachers who may not mind being hired to mentor you
  • Jazz clubs – Jazz musicians are extremely musically inclined and tend to be very helpful to beginners
  • Online forum and message boards – you can simply type in any questions you have or request help

The next time you ask, “how can I teach myself to play the piano?” Or if you’ve ever asked, “is it possible to teach myself professional piano?” Remember the answer is yes. It’s not a matter of if it can be done. It’s about the structure and system you come up with to do it. Yes, you can teach yourself how to play the piano and fluently at that. You just need a piano or keyboard, piano lessons book, finger drills book, discipline and a schedule. Most of all you need the ambition and patience.

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