Quick Tips

How to Learn a New Song on Piano

By Joseph Hoffman
How to learn a new song on piano.

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What is the easiest way to learn a song on piano? Find out below

Learning a new song on the piano can be challenging, especially for a beginning student. Once the piano lesson is over, how do you help your child take the next step? Below, we’ve included tips to help students learn how to learn new songs on piano. We recommend starting with listening to the song, singing along with the melody, and then giving it a try! When students start the process of learning a song by listening and singing along, it taps into the natural methods our minds and bodies use to process musical language. 

How to Learn A New Song On Piano: Listen

Before your child tries to play a song, have them listen to it several times. In fact, if you have the listening tracks from the Hoffman Academy lesson materials, it is a great idea to start listening to a song at least a week before watching the lesson that introduces it. You can also encourage your kids to listen to any new songs they want to learn. You can find the audio on streaming services or YouTube, and purchase sheet music at your child’s learning level from SheetMusicDirect. Once a student has learned to play a song, continue to reinforce the song by listening to it everyday! This way, the student will internalize how the music sounds.

How to Learn A New Song On Piano: Sing

Have your child sing the song along with the lesson or listening track, sing along with you, and then try singing it alone. For many kids, being able to sing a beginning level song is all it takes for them to be able to play it. When my students are struggling to play a song, I ask them to sing it because this engages the musical part of their brain and allows them to play the song more easily. This way, they aren’t just pressing a series of keys, but letting the music pass from their mind to their fingers!

How to Learn A New Song On Piano: Try It

Learning anything new requires some trial and error, and that’s true for new piano songs too. Have your child try playing the song. After playing through, go back and listen or sing it again. Ask them if what they played sounded right, and if not, what needs to change the next time they play. This trains the student to apply critical thinking to music making and even become their own “teacher” because they are growing through self-critique and goal setting!

Sometimes, even after listening and singing, a child might still struggle to play a song. If that happens, here are some other things you can try:

  • Have your child sing out loud WHILE playing.
  • Using the sheet music, take a measure or two at a time, and have your child walk through, note by note, and tell whether notes are repeating, stepping up or down, or skipping up or down.
  • Instead of singing the lyrics, sing the solfège or the finger numbers.
  • Watch the lesson again.

After a child is able to play a song from start to finish, but is still making a few mistakes, here are some ways to help them improve:

  • Day 1: Play your age. Have your child play through the song as many times as their age in years.
  • Day 2: Earn your age. Now the goal is to see if your child can play the song with no missed notes. Playing the song successfully earns a point. Any missed notes loses a point. When you earn as many points as your age, you win!
  • Super Challenges: Once your child can play the melody of a song well with one hand, try playing the melody with the other hand, or with both hands. You can also try changing to a different position, for example if a song is in C position try playing it in G position.

How do you practice a hard piano piece?

How can I practice more difficult music? Can I apply some of these ideas to a hard piano piece? The answer to this question is yes! First, listening is ALWAYS a good idea, because music is about creating something that is beautiful to the ear.

For example, if you wanted to learn a piano piece by Franz Liszt, such as the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, listen to it first. Find a pianist who plays it with ease and finesse, such as Marc-André Hamelin, and listen to the recording everyday for at least a week. This way, you’ll internalize a beautiful interpretation of that work and know what it can sound like when you play it correctly.

Even with difficult pieces like this, sing along while you play. Singing is a powerful tool that can help a musician to feel more connected to the music itself. 

How long does it take a pianist to learn a new piece?

There really is no set time for how long it takes to learn a new piece. With time and dedication, I believe that you can learn the music that you’re interested in learning. The key here is to be patient with yourself as you practice and have fun!

Learning new songs is one of the most fun and exciting parts of music lessons. Remember to take it a step at a time, and approach the song through listening and singing before playing. Before long, a new song will feel like an old friend.

Do you get better at piano by learning new songs?

Absolutely! By taking the steps to learn new songs such as listening to them and trying to read the music, you improve your musicianship and your piano skills. Learning new songs challenges your musical ear and your sight reading skills. New songs also provide an opportunity to energize your piano practice with an exciting piece of music.

How many piano songs should I learn at once?

When you are first starting out, we recommend adding one to two new songs at a time to your repertoire list, or list of pieces that you are always ready to perform! It can be overwhelming to learn too many new songs at once as a beginner pianist. Plus, you’ll want to take time in your practice to review your old songs so that you have multiple pieces you can play at any time. As your musical skills grow, you’ll be able to challenge yourself to learn more new songs at one time. However, you’ll want to keep in mind practice time to polish your music for performance!

Now that you know how to learn a new song, why not try it out? Head over to our library of Popular Songs

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