Mistakes Piano Players Need to Avoid
Updated: Jun 26
What sort of mistakes do piano players need to avoid? This article aims to show you some common mistakes that tend to plague even the most skilled musicians.
Common mistakes include playing a wrong note, getting distracted by an external source, playing too loudly or quietly. Of course, these are just a few examples, but they all have one thing in common: they can be avoided.
So, let's dive right in.
Mistake 1: Playing the Wrong Note
Many mistakes come forward when you're not paying attention to what you are doing. One thing might help with this, and it's called pedal markings. Two examples of such markings would be slurs pedal indications and pedal indications.
If you see a pedal marking on a score, it might help to remember the pedal indication by relating it to what you already know about music theory. For example, there is something called the Neapolitan chord which consists of the notes B flat, E flat, and G. If you see this chord asked for in a score, remember to use the soft pedal (the right-most pedal.)
The same thing works for arpeggio markings. An arpeggio is an 'unbroken' chord. It's called unbroken because every note is played separately - not simultaneously like with trills. If you see a marked arpeggio chord, remember to use the soft pedal with it.
Other common pedals' markings include: sostenuto ('sos' - middle pedal), bass (left-most pedal) and sforzando or forzato ('sfz' - right-most pedal.)
Keep in mind that there are many different types of pedals, and not all of them follow the same rule. For example, what order would you put the soft, sostenuto ('sos') and una corda ('Uc') pedals in if they were all next to each other? This question is hard to answer if you don't know the order of these pedals in relation to each other. However, you can figure it out quickly by thinking about intervals. The trick is to remember that the 'sos' pedal will be in between the soft pedal and the una corda pedal. So, you need to put the sos pedal between the soft pedal and the bass pedal.
What if all pedals are not next to each other? If this is the case, remember that you have options here. You can either connect them with a slur - meaning they will be played simultaneously, or you could change octaves. You could also play them one after another or in combination.
Mistake 2: Getting Distracted by External Sources When Playing the Piano
Many people have problems with this one. If you need to remove external distractions when playing the piano, there are a few tips that might help you get rid of these distractions.
If you are playing on stage, the best thing to do is just shut off all lighting in your general area. This will keep people from distracting you with cell phones or talking during your performance. If people try to get through to you, pretend not to notice them until it's their turn to perform. A simple glance in their direction should suffice.
Another trick you can use is to get a good pair of earphones and preferably noise-canceling ones. This will help keep distractions at bay. There are also earplugs that will work equally well if large enough.
If you are practicing your piano skills at home, you can record yourself and listen to your performance sounds. This will help you with mistake #1 - being distracted by external sources when playing the piano.
A few more tips include focusing on the music only, adding a metronome to keep track of rhythm and timing, playing enough scales and exercises, etc.
Mistake 3: Failing to Memorize the Piece You are Playing
This mistake is prevalent amongst beginner players of any instrument, including the piano. They think that memorizing a piece means you cannot change or improvise on it once you play it in front of an audience.
You can improvise and still remember the main melody with most music. People will still recognize what you're playing. This is especially true if the people in the audience are not experienced, pianists or musicians.
What's even better than memorizing a piece before performing it? Practice sight-reading the piece.
Sight-reading is where you learn how to play music you haven't seen before and then play it without having ever seen it. This will help you memorize your pieces faster. It will also help you remember more of the music since most people who use this method tend to understand more of what they are listening to than those who try to memorize it.
If you are used to sight-reading, then playing the music in front of people will become a lot easier because you can play it without thinking about it very much. All your practice sessions will be saved up, and your playing will improve over time.
Mistake 4: Focusing Too Much on the Piano and Not Enough on Yourself
This is a mistake that both beginner and more experienced players make. It happens when you focus too much on playing the piece perfectly rather than observing yourself while playing the piano.
To avoid mistake #4, think about yourself as a performer. Are you ready to play the piece? If you're not fully comfortable with the piece you plan to play, do some thorough preparation before going on stage.
Another approach would be to start easy and gradually work your way up to the most challenging part of the song you want to play. This will help build your confidence as you go along.
Make sure that sitting is not uncomfortable because this will affect your performance. If it's hard for you to sit down or stand up, then practice getting into that position many times over so that it becomes second nature to you by the time showtime rolls around.
Mistake 5: Being Unprepared and Rushed
This mistake is made by many beginner piano players and those who have much more experience. It happens when you haven't taken the necessary time to prepare for a big performance while at the same time sacrificing everything else in your life for this cause.
In short, you must have balance in your life if you want your musical performances to turn out well. Don't skip meals because of a performance. By the day before the big recital or concert, make sure that all your stress is taken care of outside the studio or stage. This will help you relax during your performance, which is a crucial thing to do.
Look at all the mistakes mentioned here and try to avoid them as best you can if you want things to go well with your piano playing. If there are other mistakes that musicians in the past or present have made, feel free to add them down in the comments section here so that others can learn from things you have already discovered.
Remember, practicing sight-reading is one of the most effective ways to improve your piano skills and memory without having to re-read music repeatedly.
Be sure to check out our piano music holder if you think it can help you.