The piano is one of the most popular instruments because of its ease in learning and versatility. It is used as an accompaniment for other instruments or for singers. The tone is amazing, and the type of music you can use it to play is endless. It is also an important foundation for all musicians, even if their "main" instrument is not piano.
Playing the piano is a great skill to have in life and learning is great fun - although the first few weeks is quite an effort.
Pianos can be very expensive, so if you can't afford to buy one, keyboards are an excellent cheaper alternative. There are also some great cross overs such as digital grands from people like Roland and Yamaha. If you can afford a piano, there are several criteria you should consider before buying yourself a piano. Before buying a piano or keyboard, make certain you are willing to practice for thirty or more minutes each day. If you're not, then save yourself the expense of buying the piano and books or lessons. If you have the passion to learn you can often borrow a piano from someone or get an old piano that someone is getting rid of.
Arrange for music lessons with a teacher in your area. The Music Teachers National Association or the referral from a friend is a good place to start. Many schools and colleges offer piano lessons at a subsidised cost. Ask other piano students for feedback about their books or teachers. Sometimes a student likes his or her teacher for the wrong reasons; for example if your friend likes his/her teacher because "he/she/the book doesn't make me work very hard," then steer away from that source.
If however you do not want to have piano lessons you can still learn, however you do have your work cut out for you. Teaching yourself how to play the piano can be done, practice for 30 minutes everyday, the times you feel least like practicing is when they make the most difference. Find some sheet music that sounds really really simple, but that you love to listen to and really want to play, once you have this then keep practicing until you can play it, show off to friends it will keep you wanting to get better so that you can show off some more. Keep getting more and more challenging sheet music until you can play like a master.
Make certain your teacher or lesson book includes time spent learning all aspects of the piano, including chords, theory, and improvisation, as well as learning pieces by note. In learning the piano, you are also learning the language and history of music. It takes time and effort to learn this "foreign language" and musical understanding means more than just playing a few pieces well. True mastery of music is a lifelong process. It takes many years to become a good musician. It's worth knowing that ANY knowledge of the piano is very helpful for singing or playing other instruments so any work you put in on the piano has positive knockon effects on your other skills.
Practice every day for at least thirty minutes or more. Your fingers will "rust" if you do not play for even a week. But you may often find that if you have practiced deligiently for a while a short break lets things sink in and you 'forget' some of your mistakes so holidays are OK. At first, practicing might be a pain and you might get very frustrated. As your skills grow, you will become better and playing piano will become pure enjoyment. It's best to warm up at the beginning of every practice session with some thing to get you relaxed. Some loud chords played up and down the piano perhaps a scale played starting from a slouch position and finishing sitting up straight. Traditionally lots of scales were played but these days they are not recommended as your warm up, there are some good books on warm up exercises like 'dozen a day' which are fun and mental and finger 'tongue twisters' in them. If you have a favourite easy pieces that makes a nice start. These will stretch your fingers and hands and help you play with your hands relaxed. (When you play, you should be able to see your finger bones move. Let your hand just hang and move only your fingers.)
Remember that it's worth the effort and will make you a much better piano player when your teacher asks you to learn a hard piece. While there are many ways to practice, here's a good one for beginners. First try to sightread the piece without worrying if you make mistakes. Then practice each hand independently. Break the music into segments and learn the right hand part. Learn segment by segment, then connect them together. Keep practicing until you've mastered the right hand play through the entire piece. If you make a mistake, try to pick up from the beginning of that measure. Starting from the beginning each time you make a mistake will mean you learn the start of the song very well and perhaps never reach the end! Be patient, this process will enable you to get through the entire piece flawlessly. Once you've mastered the right hand, repeat the process with the left hand. Then, repeat the process again, this time for both hands.
Take a new piece apart by learning one or two measures at a time, and going over it again and again. The next day do the same thing with the next few measures, and then include the last measures and play them all together. By practicing this way, you can spend quality time listening to how they sound and making sure your fingers know where to go and when.
Try not to repeat your mistakes. Playing the piano is an automatic process like walking (you don't think about each step you take, you just walk). Because of this, past mistakes have a tendency to come back when you play the piece later on. To avoid this, do the following: When you are learning a new piece, break it down into simple parts that you can practice without making a lot of mistakes. And play slowly. For example, practice each hand separately. After you have determined the fingering you are going to follow, play both hands together in short sections. Eventually put the sections together. Do not try to play at normal speed until you are secure in your fingering and notes. Then increase the speed gradually. Play the piece over and over until you memorize it and you can play fluently.
Improvise and think notes. "Thinking notes" means that you know every single note that you're playing. While that sounds easy, it can be very hard. Play a piece that you have memorized and can play very well. Now, name every note that you played without looking at piano. Then, take a melody you've heard on TV or somewhere else and try to play it using your ear. Learn to know all the notes that you're playing. While playing by ear is good, it's a lot better if you know every note that you play.