What’s the Difference Between Ties and Slurs?

There are two different kinds of curvy lines in music notation – ties and slurs. Both look very similar on the page, but they do very different things – knowing how to recognize which is which is essential for avoiding confusion when practicing.  Fortunately, there are some very clear distinctions between how ties and slurs appear in music notation. Ties Ties connect notes to other notes to create longer note values. They are the only way to combine note values across barlines, and are valuable for offering a broader range of rhythmic combinations in general.   Slurs A slur is … Read more

How to Play Hanon

Practicing “technical” exercises is one of the best ways to improve your physical ability to play the piano. Learning technical exercises is all about working on one or two specific skills at a time to more efficiently boost your overall technique. Practicing technical exercises helps make learning pieces of music easier in the long run.  As with many instruments, the piano world has some staple technical exercises you’ve probably heard of: scales, arpeggios, trills, and so on. In fact, a large number of exercise books aim to diversify and expand upon these technical basics. Among these collections, the most famous … Read more

Easy Piano: 10 Easy Movie Themes

There are lots of articles out there claiming to contain “easy” piano pieces; some of them are good, others not so much, and many try to grab you with big famous piece names like “Claire de lune” or “Für Elise,” even though neither of these pieces are anywhere close to easy…    Here at Liberty Park Music we decided to put together an article series showing off satisfying, well-constructed repertoire and arrangements that actually fall into the “easy” category for different difficulty levels. Some of these pieces may not be familiar to you, but they’ve been hand-picked for being fun … Read more

How to Play Piano Arpeggios

Arpeggios are some of the most common musical figures played at the piano. They are frequently used to give shape and movement to the harmonies in many styles of piano music. Knowing how to play scales, chords, and arpeggios is the core of a pianist’s basic technical skills. What are Arpeggios? “Arpa” is the Italian word for “harp,” and the word arpeggio is derived from the Italian term, “arpeggiare,” which means, “to play on a harp.” As with the harp, the piano is an instrument of many notes that are playable by individual fingers. Playing these notes in the configuration … Read more

Why Use a Metronome?

A metronome is a device that emits regular clicks or beeps in a constant beat (or pulse). The clicks of a metronome are measured in “beats-per-minute,” meaning that the speed of the metronome is set by choosing how many beats (or clicks) should happen within a minute. For example, you might set a metronome to 90 beats-per-minute (or 90bpm), and that’s how many clicks the metronome would emit within a minute. More beats-per-minute equals a faster click speed, while less equals a slower click. You are probably already familiar with one speed – 60bpm means 60 clicks per minute, one … Read more

Common Piano Chords and How to Use Them

The piano is a harmony instrument. Unlike solo line instruments such as horns or the voice, the piano can play multiple notes at once to create harmonies.  Probably the easiest way to create good-sounding harmonies on the piano is to play chords, which are special combinations of notes played at the same time. Chords are used in everything from classical music to rock music, and often create the harmonic groundwork over which the melody happens.  Using the piano to play chords is a very natural and common way to use the instrument, but it can be daunting to try and … Read more

How to Choose a Weekly Practice Plan

So you’ve started your piano education – Congratulations! You’ve embarked on a lifelong journey brimming with enrichment and accomplishment. To learn an instrument is not only to reap the joy of playing music, but to learn about yourself and develop your core learning abilities.  Now that you’re committed to the path of learning an instrument, it’s time to pick the route you’ll take to make your musical goals achievable: it’s time to make a practice plan. Practicing is how you get better at music. Period. If you do not practice, you cannot improve, and the best way to improve through … Read more

What are Dynamics in Music?

In music (or, more precisely, in music notation), we use a variety of symbols and written instructions to tell us how a piece of music should sound.  We use notes to tell us about pitches and how long they should be. We use slurs, staccato dots, and accents to tell us about how we should articulate the notes. We use tempo markings to tell us how fast the piece should be.  We also use special symbols to tell us how loud or soft the music should be, and these are what we call dynamics.  Dynamics (or dynamics markings) are volume … Read more

What are the Piano Pedals?

“The pedal is the soul of the piano,” said the famed 19th century pianist Anton Rubinstein.  But wait, which pedal? Aren’t there three of them?  In this article we’ll provide an overview of the piano pedals: we’ll tell you what they are, how they work, and briefly explain how they are used. The Sustain Pedal How the Sustain Pedal Works The sustain pedal (also called the damper pedal), is the rightmost pedal when facing the keyboard. Whenever you hear someone talk about using “pedal,” this is the pedal they’re referring to (including Mr. Rubinstein in his quote from above). The … Read more

Common Tempo Markings

We consider a number of elements when learning a piece of music. We think about how loud the piece should be, how to count the beats, and how we should articulate the notes. We also consider how fast the piece should be, because speed is one of the most important factors determining the character of a piece of music.  In the world of Western classical, jazz, and pop music, we refer to the speed of a piece as the tempo, and we have a variety of different terms we use to communicate what the tempo should be. Some of these … Read more