How Do I Play Piano With a Band?

So you want to learn piano? You know you have to practice your scales, learn to read music and all that. But what if you don’t care about classical music at all?. You want to form a band! You call a few friends, and you all meet in somebody’s basement. Everyone has their instruments, you are all ready to rock…and now what?

Playing With Others

Playing in a band is much different than playing on your own. It’s also very different from playing in an orchestra or other similar classical environment. 

Even if you have received piano lessons for a while, if you don’t work on the specific skills required to play modern music with other people, you will have a hard time. 

But you don’t have to. I am going to help you focus on what’s important.

The Basics

No matter what you want to play, don’t forget the basics. Technique, posture, chords, and scales. You will need to relate it to the music that you want to play (context matters!), but music is music.

 You will be using the same chords and scales as classical pianists do, and you still need the proper technique to perform well. 

The thing that determines the style of the music, more than anything else, is rhythm.

The Groove of Rhythm

Modern pop music is all about the groove. You have to work on your sense of rhythm to sound good and authentic. You want people to dance!

You may all even need to work in your rhythm, as a group, to make sure you are all on the same page and sound like a cohesive unit.

Play By Ear

When you play in a band, you are naturally going to develop your ear. And that is going to make you a much better player. This is where you take all the basics and the rhythm that you are working on, and make it sound musical. 

You need to be aware of what the others are playing, and let yourself play something that fits. 

That’s the secret right there, just listen and play. If it doesn’t sound good, try again. You will get better at it.

Theory and Reading

Sometimes your ear won’t be enough. Or maybe there’s no time to try that much, and you need to play the song right away. That’s what theory and reading are for. 

Theory helps you speak a common language with your musician peers. Knowing song structures makes it easy to follow along with others. This will complement your study of chords and scales because they are the tools with which harmony and melody are written.

Reading lets you follow a score so you can all play a new song together on your first try. For popular music, you only need to know how to follow a lead sheet with the chords, the melody, and the feel. Your rhythmic study will help you recognize rhythms quickly.

Have Fun!

This is the most important part and the hardest one for some pianists. You have to practice, by yourself and with others, and then, eventually, you have to just play. It’s important to separate both at some point, so you can have fun.

A teacher can help you with this. They can schedule your practice, and make sure you are improving in the areas that you need, so when the time comes you just sit back, relax, and play from the heart. That is all there is to it.


Take a look at our list of qualified teachers and start looking for friends that want to join you on your musical journey, right away. Trust me, it will be worth it.  

Learning And Playing The Piano Should Be Fun!

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