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3 Mistakes Beginner Piano Plays Make

Lisa Witt  /  Practice / Sep 3

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I’ve noticed a theme. I’ve been teaching piano for many years, both privately and as an instructor at Pianote. In that time, I’ve seen beginners make the same 3 mistakes again and again.

It doesn’t matter if they’re learning in person or online, are kids or adults. There are 3 things that nearly EVERY beginner does — that slows their progress.

Today I’m going to tell you what they are, and more importantly, what you can do to solve them (or avoid them if you’re just starting).

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Mistake #1 – Rushing

This is especially common in an adult learner. That’s because adults can understand a concept in their mind very quickly. But it takes time to apply that concept to our fingers.

In your head an exercise is simple — but your fingers just don’t want to listen. That is SUPER FRUSTRATING and it’s normal to feel that way.

The solution — is patience. You need to remind yourself that things take time and that if you keep practicing you WILL be able to do it. Regular, structured practice will get you there a lot faster as well.

Remember, you have the rest of your life to play the piano. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Mistake # 2 – Not Setting Clear Goals

You need to know what you want to get out of learning the piano. If you don’t know why you’re doing it, then you can easily find yourself caught up learning songs and techniques that you don’t enjoy.

This is especially true if you are paying for lessons. Don’t spend your hard-earned money learning something you never want to play again. Figure out your goals – and tell your teacher!

There are so many possibilities and styles on the piano. Do you want to learn classical? Jazz? Or do you just want to learn enough to be able to accompany yourself while singing?

It also helps to have short, medium, and long-term goals.

Mistake #3 – Not Learning Technique

I often see learners neglect the basics of technique. This ends up in them not having the technical skills to support the learning goals they have. It ties in with my point above.

If you want to be able to play jazz or classical, then you need to spend time mastering the basic technical skills required. This means scales!

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I am all about providing quick wins and showing people how easy it is to play something fun on the piano. I’ve done a lot of those lessons:

Those lessons are great. But technique is the foundation of being an accomplished pianist.

This also ties in with the first point. It takes time — you cannot rush this.

If you’ve noticed any of these mistakes in your playing, that’s ok! They are common for a reason. I would encourage you to stop and think about your learning and come up with a plan for how to improve it.

Good luck!


Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 19 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.

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