Can I Learn Piano Without An Instrument?

So you want to try the piano, but don’t feel committed enough to buy one for yourself. 

  • What if you aren’t good at it? 
  • What if you don’t enjoy it? 
  • What if music is too hard for you? 

Those are all legit questions. Maybe you have tried a lot of things over the years, and don’t want to end up regretting yet another useless purchase.

I suggest giving music a chance. And I will show you ways to start learning it without needing to buy a piano (or any other instrument). After all, you make music with your brain, and then you translate it to your fingertips.

Just Listen

The most important aspect of music is your ears. Any kind of instrumental technique or theoretical knowledge means nothing without sound. So start by listening.

Some easy practices that you can do right now, to learn to listen more intently:

  1. Listen for the different instruments: pick up any song, of any genre, that you have enjoyed a thousand times before. Listen to it a few times in a row, but every time focus on a different instrument (melody, piano, guitar, bass, rhythm, etc.) You will gain an understanding of how the parts work individually, and how they function as a whole.
  2. Listen to the different parts: try to divide the song into sections. Popular songs are great for this, and soon enough you will start recognizing structures and anticipating them in songs that you have never heard before.
  3. Listen and sing: sing along to the different instruments. You have probably done this with the lyrics, but try to sing things like a bass part, or even the drums.

This is an easy way to start paying more attention to music. Don’t worry about doing it “right” and have fun with the exercises.

Practice Rhythm

Rhythm is what differentiates the different musical styles. Try the previous exercises with songs of different genres, and try to see if you can recognize the main rhythms of each one.

You can also practice using your voice, hands, and feet.

  1. Count: Try to count out loud from 1 to 4 while you are listening. Popular songs are easier for this. Don’t worry If you get lost, stop counting and try to find the “1” again.
  2. Clap: Same as before, but clapping along the counting, on every 1, 2, 3 & 4.
  3. Games: Make it a game out of it. Count 1 to 4, and only clap on 3 & 4, then on 1 & 3, then make up your own combination. A more advanced version is to clap in between the counts, to get an off-beat rhythm.
  4. Foot: You can use your foot along with your hands and voice. Go slowly, play everything together and then try some of the previous games, while the foot stay on all 4 counts.

Don’t get too frustrated, these games can become pretty intense. Just relax and have fun, and if it gets tough, stop and try later. You will be surprised of how quick you will get better if you are consistent.

Your Brain On Music

Music theory is the “boring” part that scares everyone. But it doesn’t have to be! Especially if you have been playing with my suggestion. 

The key is to learn about what interests you. There is no point in focusing on classical music if what you love is pop. After all music theory doesn’t care about styles, the basics are the same. Find material that dissects the kind of music that you love to hear. YouTube can be a good source for this. 

Music theory is about the “why”, so you will learn the reason that music sounds good, and also how to do it yourself. It can get pretty heady, but the basics are easy to grasp, more so if you hear them in practice.

Reading also has a bad reputation, but all you need to do at this point is learn the names of the notes on the musical staff, and how to recognize the rhythmical notation. You can potentially learn it in an afternoon, and then get better at it just by playing. 

I hope that you have realized that it’s all interconnected. Without touching an instrument you can learn so much that when you sit at the piano for the first time, it will all make a lot more sense. 

I do recommend getting a teacher, even if you don’t have a piano yet, because they can help you with all that I’ve talked about (reading may not be the easiest way to understand some of these exercises). Make sure you let them know that you don’t have an instrument so they can help you practice with what you got. Also, ask them if they have a space available to practice in between the lessons.

Take a look at our list of qualified teachers, you won’t regret it! 

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