For those of you who are considering becoming a piano teacher here are a few pointers.
1. Understand and be able to play piano yourself. You need to have piano experience before becoming a teacher. Most teachers have learned their craft thoroughly and enjoy it.
2. Decide how many lessons you want to teach each week, how much you will charge, and how long each lesson will be. Most lessons are 30 minutes long, especially for beginning players. Find out what other piano teachers in your area are charging. As a new teacher, your rate should be lower than theirs. Many starting teachers begin with a low rate of $10 per lesson and raise their rate every two-three years by a few dollars. When you're deciding how many lessons and when you want to teach each week, remember the time commitments of your students. Are they still in school? College students? Are they working a 9-5 job? You'll have to work around their schedules too. Remember to leave time for your lunch or dinner break.
3. Decide where you will have your lessons. You could have them at your house, at your student's house, or at another site, such as a music store or community center. Make sure there is a piano and a chair for you and your student. It should be clean, easy to work in, and easy to get to for you and your students.
4. Find students. Advertise in the newspaper, hand out fliers in your neighborhood, and tell everyone you know. If your city has a community center, ask if they have a music program that you could be part of. It would give you more credibility. Music stores are good places to find aspiring students. Ask if they have a place, such as bulletin board, window, or desk, where you could hang a flier.
5. Plan out your lessons. Once you have a student and the first lesson scheduled, plan out what you will teach your student at the first lesson. Introduce yourself and ask the student some basic questions about themselves. Find out if they have ever played piano before and how much they know. You could ask them to play a simple song for you. Do they have any goals or songs that they're working on? Why do they want to learn to play piano? What kind of music do they like? You may want to find out when the lesson is scheduled if your student is new to the piano so you can recommend books for them to buy before the lesson. Alfred Piano Course books are an excellent series for learning the basics, but there are many other series to choose from. As the teacher, you should be familiar with the books. Some teachers buy the books for the students (the student pays for the books at the first lesson) so that they can play through the songs themselves and be able to give the student helpful hints, skip songs that doesn't agree with your teaching principles or other things.
6. Have your first lesson. Learn from them and change how you're teaching for each student. Teach on the level of the pupil. Base your lesson off them. Go their speed. They're paying for the lessons. You want them to understand why the reason behind various music techniques. Start with what they know and build off it.
7. Encourage your students often. Tell them when they've improved and what they do well. Offer constructive criticism only.


In many songs at the end of the stanza you usually play an ending chord(commonly the "v" chord) and then back to the "I" chord (see earlier posts for chord notation).

Some examples of what I am talking about would be an ending like

G then C, in the key of C; A then D, in the key of D. etc... etc... Using this ending is fine and dandy but if you want to add a little flavor to it you can try using suspended chords. A suspended chord is nothing extremely difficult to play all you have to do really is add the "4th note".
Example: In the Key of C here are some of the suspended chords you can use
Csus: CFG
Gsus: GCD
Fsus: FCD

Once you've gotten the feel for the suspended chords, try adding some of the "second chords" talked about in the earlier posts


The first thing you need to work on to play piano by ear is the melody. Find a song you like that has a simple melody, then sit down at the piano and try to pick it out. This will be easier if you work on recognizing intervals. An interval is simply the distance between two notes. If you can recognize intervals easily, you will be able to pick out a melody much faster.


After picking out the melody, the next step to play piano by ear is to harmonize the melody with chords. If you're a beginner, you will be happy to know that you only need to know three chords in order to harmonize any melody. These three chords are based on the first, fourth, and fifth notes of the scale in whatever key you're playing in. In the key of C, the three chords would be C, F, and G chords. These three chords include every note in the key of C.

Chord Voicing

The last thing you need to know to play piano by ear is chord voicing. Chord voicing is when you play a chord in any position other than root position. Let's take a C chord for example. In root position, you will play a C, E, and G in that order. To voice the chord differently, you could play the E on the bottom, followed by a G and C. You could also play the G on the bottom, with the C and E played above it. When you play piano by ear, you could play all chords in root position, but you could vary your sound by using different chord voicing.

Learning how to play piano by ear is not that difficult. Once you have the melody figured out, all you have to do is harmonize it with chords. After that, you could experiment with different chord voicing to vary the sound. After practicing for a while, you will know how to play piano by ear with ease.


Before I continue with my segment on colorful tones. I deem it appropriate that we become familiar with various types of chords that can be played on the piano.

There are many chords that can be played on piano ranging from Maj to Maj9 Sus4 and so forth. The reason many musicians have trouble creating "colorful tones" is because they do not understand these chords. Chords are the basic building block upon which the musician is able to craft a sound that is correspondent to what his/her emotions want to express. In short, it makes for good quality music. Below are some chords that you can incorporate into your music to create a richer sound. Try substituting these chords for the regular ones at different parts of the song and you will hear the difference.

Here's a link where you can find list of the various chords.

Feeling a Bit Lost??

This post is for those of you who are a bit more advanced and have already grasped the concept of chord progressions. For most people after they get chord progressions down pat, their next major problem is that their music sounds boring. It's at this point that many new musicians and older ones alike tend to get discouraged and start to lose interest in playing the piano. I have a few pointers that can help revive your interest in playing and guide you on your path to establishing your own unique musical identity.


There are many musicians out there who feel that they must stick to the original chords and play them verbatim. This is approach is correct for classical music where every note is crucial. Not so in contemporary music. Nowadays it's all about expressing what you feel through the piano, by adding color to you music. Unsure of how to do that? here let me explain.


The common notes for a C chord would be CEG. Now for a begginer playing that chord in different songs may seem like an accomplishment. But for those of us who like to hear something fresh and inspiring the same old CEG chord can get kind of boring. This is where I like to throw in "second chords" (commonly notated as C2, D2, Eb2, (I2) etc...) Instead of playing CEG, throw a D note into the mix, you will be surprised at the result. Once you get the feel of the C2 chord try switching and playing around with the C2 and the ordinary C chord. Great sound isn't it. Now you can apply this to several other keys, and already your on your way to creating more colorful music.

This is a picture of the C2 Chord, notice: the term C2 really means that your using the second note in the scale, thus the reason why the notes of the C2 chord are CDG. Hope this helps

Most people say that playing by ear is something that cannot be taught. I disagree with hard work, diligence, and patience, anything is possible. I want to give a few pointers on playing by ear. If you want to get good at playing by ear you need to familiarize yourself with common chord changes. I will give you a few of the most common chord changes. Often used are the I-IV-I, I-vi-IV-V, I-IV-ii-V-I, I-IV-V-I, and iii-vi. (If you are unfamiliar with this kind of notation read my previous post on Basic Notation). Now what you will need to do is start to recognize these patterns in various songs and when you hear them you will know what chords to play. I suggest you practice playing these various chord progressions in different keys so that you can get used to hearing how they sound. Then when you hear them in a song you will be able to play them. Once you begin to listen for these chord progression in various songs, you will soon notice that a lot of songs use the same chord progressions but just tweak the actual position of the notes to give it a different sound. If you have any questions you can leave a comment and I will try my best answer the question in the next post.

When I first started playing piano in church I'd be asked to change key by the worship leader and often times I couldn't do it. If you have had trouble transposing then maybe what I'm going to explain in this post is for you.

Most people know the C scale so for for explanation purposes I will use that scale.
Ok, say your playing a song in the key of C, and you need to transpose to the key of D. How should you go about doing this?
Well we all know that there are 8 notes in the C scale, if we don't count the octave note then its seven. Now we know each of these notes are the root note of a specific chord which contain notes from the C scale.

For Example:

You might say well I know that already, how can this help me transpose. Wait the best is yet to come. Now in the example I was talking about at the beginning of the paragraph, I needed to transpose to the key of D. The easiest way of doing this is to think of the chords not as individual notes but as numbers, thats right numbers. Let me show you.
C: I Dm: ii Em: iii F: IV G: V Am: vi Bdim:vii

If the chords of your song are C, Am, F, G, C, then it follows logically that the corresponding numbers are I, vi, IV, V, I. Now all we have to do is apply those same numbers to the D scale in order to transpose. Now lets take a look at it.

Whats the "I" chord in the Key of D: D
Whats the "vi" chord in the Key of D: Bm
Whats the "IV" chord in the Key of D: G
Whats the "V" chord in the Key of D: A
Whats the "I" chord in the Key of D: D

And there you have it. Now you can take this same principle and apply it to any other key. Heres a video that demonstrates what we just learned.

Over the years I've come across many websites devoted to piano playing. Often times I've spent fruitless hours searching for tips, tricks, licks, runs etc... to help make my piano playing better. Now that I have become more experienced in piano playing, I want to share what I have come to learn through hard work, devoted hours, and inspiration. I don't want this site to be like many "learn piano fast" websites that are on the internet, rather I will be making posts on various little runs, fills, tricks, and tidbits that I have found useful, and also on tips for playing by ear on the piano. I hope you enjoy your time on PianoTricks

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