Learning to Play the Piano- A Traditional Teacher or the Modern Way?

Learning to Play the Piano- A Traditional Teacher or the Modern Way?

I think to best answer this question, you need to ask yourself what you wish to achieve?


If you are looking at concert pianist status, I think I can comfortably suggest a traditional teacher and music school is the way to go.


On the other hand, if you are just interested in playing for pleasurem, then you could go either the traditional way, or the modern, online style of course.


The main benefit in online courses is that you can study when it suits you, even if it is two in the morning. I don’t know of too many teachers that are happy to accept pupils at two am.


However, even though some online courses are very good, it is difficult without the absolute guidance of a professional. 


However, \the Rocket Piano course is probably the next best thing, if you can’t afford a teacher or have access to one for that matter. The courses are delivered online by download, so you can review the material in your own time, and that is very flexible.


Now the case with Rocket piano is that the team who have developed it are all at Grade 8 level, so they’ve been around for a while.They have knowledge in all genera’s of piano . The system comprises of three book sof information as well as electronic tutorials.

The lessons have also been created to cater for all levels of player, regardless of weather you have just begun, or are at a much more advanced level.

To Learn More about this course, please head over to Rocket Piano.

Tendonitis and Piano Playing – How Can Tendonitis For Pianists Be Resolved or Dealt With Appropriately?


It is no secret to just about any long term pianist that occasional pain and muscular discomfort may occur from time to time, during their playing careers. Effectively, this is the result of repetitive strain injury. Many serious or professional pianists will typically practice for around seven hours a day, and over a period of a number of years, will add up to a long term pressure on the joints and muscles of the arm, hand and wrist.



As with any sporting activity, it is encouraged to ensure that a thorough warm up session be undertaken first, and then too, a cool down session, to slowly relax the body prior to the cessation of exercise. The same can be applied for pianists, as this will contribute to less chance of injury. Now, I am not going to suggest that playing scales and arpeggios before you launch into the Beethoven Pathétique Sonata is going to cover you against all and sundry injuries. However, it certainly is an important part of your playing regimen.

However, let's consider the actual forces and strain that are going on with the arm, and hands, let alone the wrist and fingers. As far as the arm is concerned, many pianists extend the arm in such a way as to apply considerable force to the wrists ad tendons, as they play, and this can certainly be sustained for a period of time,. However, given the nature of the work in question, some pianists will start to notice pain if they are stretching their fingers considerably (when the hands are small, and the notes spread widely over the keyboard). The preceding example is by no means the only possible scenario, but certainly a common one, amongst others.

There are a number of possibilities to undertake to resolve the problem, and for some, that includes attending physiotherapy clinics. They certainly have their place, and some are undoubtedly very good. In fact, some have an excellent reputation. A question that I would ask however, is to perhaps see if we can find a way to eliminate the problem form developing in the first place. Is such an option available to pianists? The short answer is yes, although it is dependent on the teacher, and student adopting a different method of playing, which like any new endeavour, will take time to master, but ultimately, bring forth greater rewards to the pianist, as well as the pleasure of an improved sound. You might well ask, "How can dealing with tendonitis improve the sound?"

The sound itself, is the result of the quality of the playing. When a pianist is able to play with less fear due to a greater relaxation at the keyboard, and a technique that allows a greater freedom of movement in the hand and fingers, as well as positioning relative to the keyboard, the strain can be greatly minimised on the tendons. Whilst some people may try to convince you that you can cure the problem in a few days, I personally believe that to be irresponsible, and dangerous. If you play on through a damaged tendon, you will likely do more damage. You are better off resting the injury till it heals, and then applying a technique that has been proven, like the Bowman method.

Next, are you experiencing or dealing with overcoming piano injury, for the long term?

You will also gain an enhanced comfort and improvement in your playing, with less stress and injury. To learn more, see the therapeutic techniques that are possible for classical pianists.

What Are Some Of The Best Ways to Improve My Classical Piano Playing?



 Admittedly, this is a question that has way too many variables to answer fully. I will, however, concentrate on some common problems, being the way that a pianist approaches the keyboard, so that they may enhance their physique, and play with less injuries.

The injuries I am most referring to are cases of tendonitis, and muscular strain. It would be safe to say that most pianist have suffered from tendonitis at some stage, through their careers, and this is mostly due to the technique that they will be using to play the piano. In an ideal world, the pianist will always have their hands and fingers at exactly ninety degrees to the keyboard, but this is often not the case. The reasons include the fact there are multiple octaves, and the pianist is typically seated at one place on the piano stool.

To overcome these problems, at least to some degree, the pianist needs to be as relaxed as possible, particularly in the arms and hands, with the strength of the fingers delivering much of the power in the note playing. In addition, the hips need to be as relaxed and agile as possible, to facilitate easy movement of the torso, at least to a point, to adjust the body left or right, to allow greater area where the hands can be as close as possible to right angles to the keyboard. Whilst these techniques will aid any piano player, I can relate to specific experimentation and trial and error by the Late Professor Lionel Bowman, who came up with the Bowman method, after having to re learn a style to play the piano, to minimise the great tendonitis he suffered from, as well as other muscular problems.

As part of his method, the technique includes the right finger and hand positioning on the keyboard, often referred to as the 'cobra' position. This requires the hand to be placed with the wrist near the edge of the keyboard, and the fingers placed on the keys where they can also slide back, towards the pianist, and moving the wrist downward. Doing this, particularly during practice, will give the pianist the opportunity to test various pressure levels, of the fingers on the keys, and ultimately, to deliver a superior sound, through strengthened fingers. In addition to this playing method, it has also been suggested as an important part of practice, to 'play' on the lid of the piano, or other, hard, wooden surface. The reason for this being that you need greater strength, and force in your fingers to produce a sound from a piece of wood, than from the piano keys. In other words, if you can sound the piece from the wood, you can certainly do so from the keys, but not necessarily the other way around. This is a part of the Bowman method for strengthening the fingers.

I am deliberately emphasising the strength issue, as this small improvement will contribute wonders to a reduced strain on the rest of the body's muscular system in the hands and arms. As a general rule, when the strength is maximised in the fingers, and the hands and arms are relaxed, and well positioned, the strength can transfer to the keys, without building up as a tension in the arm and wrist, and aid the reduction, if not elimination of tendonitis. Like most things, it requires practice to master the skill. I recommend learning something completely new, as this will be with a new mind set, rather than trying first to unlearn a particular piece, which can be twice as hard. To prove the point, learn something new, applying these principles, and see the change for yourself.

As a side issue, some pianists have also participated in general gymnasium training, where they have found their improved physique has helped them move with more ease 'around' the piano, with less strain.


Are you able to store your piano performances for future listening? Have you been having trouble recording your piano performances , for the long term? Not only can you record your performances, but also gain an enhanced comfort and improvement in your playing, with less stress and injury. To learn more, see the therapeutic techniques that are possible for classical pianists.

The Importance of Scales and Arpeggios

It is no secret that for any pianist, amateur or professional, it is imperative that they commence with a solid warm up prior to launching into a playing session.  In fact, I prefer to think of the scales and arpeggios as part of the playing session. Why and how so?


The benefits of playing scales are all about an adequate warm up, and flexibility of the fingers, and hand. Whist I realise that for a beginner, the idea of incurring an injury at the piano may seem a far fetched idea, it is a definite reality for many people, who may not be adopting the right techniques to play the piano. However, far from wanting to put you off, I'd rather that it be an encouragement to simply follow the right techniques, and processes, to adequately tone your hand, arm, and finger muscles.


Playing the piano is not about just pushing the right keys in the right order. It is very much more than that, and certainly, a possibility to master as a skill, when approached the right way. 

To illustrate this example, you can start by playing scales, and then, moving up to arpeggios.


However, you can also start improvising, and turning the scales in to musical composition, as you progress. 


It is not an automatic thing, no, but certainly a way to move forward, when you need to.


As the Late Professor Lionel Bowman said, it is always a good idea to start to learn something new, with a new technique, rather than trying to play something you already know,as your mind has already programmed a certain method into your playing for a particular piece. However, what about if you decide to learn something completely new, following a new technique, like the Bowman method?


You will find that you develop greater strength in your fingers, as well as the ability to relax more in the hand and arm, thus allowing a greater degree of stress to remain out of the equation.

Tension and stress, mixed with the incorrect sitting posture can dramatically affect your likelyhood of having problems with tendonitis and also muscular aches in general.

However, getting back to my title earlier, the fact that you are playing scales and arpeggios is an important aspect of the warm up process.


I realise that it may take a combination of discipline, and sheer  creativity in time, but you will certainly see the result with less injury over the curse of your piano playing career. For that alone, the issue is a fait accompli.

The Classical Piano method- known as the Magic Touch, is available here.

Note on the Exercises

Note on the Exercises




The exercises are based on what the hand is capable of doing with various passages, i.e. single notes, octaves and chords in their thousands of permutations, which make up what we call music. Once the learning processes are understood, the pianist will find that they are comparatively few, and that they can be adapted and applied to the learning of any passage regardless of style or character.

These basic techniques are learnt through the exercises which are to be practiced daily in the manner prescribed. They provide a therapeutic learning process and are elementary guidelines only to play more comfortably and with greater ease at speed. They also give one the means of cultivating various basic touches.

During the learning process some of the technical movements, muscular conditions, postures, and sounds, are extremely exaggerated, as a good deal of concentrated attention and effort is required. Eventually it will be sufficient to devote a few minutes only to the more essential and representative exercises before regular practice sessions.

The exercises were taught by Professor Bowman by rote: they were not written out for the student. Thus, attention focused on the physical means by which notes were played in order to produce a preconceived type, intensity and quality of sound. As a result, the approach was experimental, somewhat improvisational and rhythmically flexible. The student should keep this in mind when working the exercises as transcribed in this book.






A DVD to illustrate the exercises and examples in this book is available as well, from



It is normally included as part of the book download.