Can You Learn the Piano by Playing Songs?

Have you wanted to play the piano, but you prefer learning with pop songs, rock anthems, top 40 hits, and other contemporary genres? Our piano lessons in Mississauga allow you to do just that. Keep reading to learn how you can play the piano without classical music or traditional etudes, and please get in touch for more information about online or in-person lessons.

Can You Learn Piano By Playing Songs?

Yes, you can learn the piano by playing songs, although this approach won’t equip you to play scales, arpeggios, or advanced classical repertoire like concertos and sonatas. If your goal is to be able to read notes, learn chords, and play music off lead sheets or by ear, you can start with your favourite songs and take it from there.

Before we continue, note that we do offer lessons with Rockschool curriculum, which uses top 40 hits to teach music theory, note reading, contemporary playing, and more. You can become a well-rounded modern keyboardist using the music you love – let us know if you have any questions.

Three Options: Sheet Music, Lead Sheets or Ear Playing

Learn To Play The Piano By Ear

Learning music purely by ear is doable, although you won’t be able to read music or lead sheets this way. You can start by picking out tunes on your own, or copy what you hear while listening to a recording.

Begin the process by listening to a tune or reviewing one in your head that you already know. Then, with your right hand, trying to “sound out” the tune on the keyboard. Listen for upward movement, downward movement, steps and skips, and keep going until you can play the tune.

Then, once you have that down, practice playing a bass note (in the left hand) that sounds correct alongside the melody you are playing in your right hand. The left hand notes can repeat themselves – you don’t need to play a different left hand note alongside each note in the right hand.


Thirdly, fill out your bass line with chords. Generally, you can create a filled-out left hand accompaniment with triads, or three notes stacked on top of each other in thirds. Here’s a visualization, courtesy of the University of Indiana:

The drawback is that you won’t necessarily know the names of the chords or notes you’re playing unless you learn the notes on the piano.

Learn To Play Songs on the Piano With Sheet Music

If you visit 8notes.com or a similar sheet music aggregator, you can download the sheet music for your favorite rock or pop songs (often for free). If you don’t know how to read music though, it will take some time. 

Your first task will be to learn the keys on the piano keyboard. You need to be able to identify middle C, F, G, and so on. You can learn this on Youtube, from flashcards, or in a book.

Next, you must learn to read notes on a musical staff (both the bass and treble clefs). This takes some time, but reading music will allow you to download any sheet music you want to and learn how to play it.

You can even use the sheet music from your favorite songs to drill your knowledge. Simply pencil in the names above each note on the staff in both the treble and bass clefs, erase it and do it again until you are fluent. Then put your knowledge into practice by reading the sheet music and playing the notes on the keyboard, one hand at a time. Putting your hands together is a challenging leap, and you should learn your music hands separately first.

Last tip for this section – you must practice your music very slowly and carefully. Each time you play a wrong note, you introduce a new bad habit. So play the music no faster than you can play it accurately.

Learning Songs on the Piano From Lead Sheets

Lead sheets (or reading a “fake” book) are different from ear playing or reading sheet music. You are given fragmented pieces of the melody (only repeated in the music when something changes) and symbols for the accompanying chords. Generally, you would only successfully read a lead sheet for a song you are already familiar with. Here’s an example from MusicNotes.com:

You will need to be able to read music and have a strong knowledge of chords and inversions to read lead sheets, so this is not the best way for a beginner to learn how to play the piano. You are given chord symbols on the page (like F7, D9, etc.) then build the actual chords on the keyboard on your own.

Learn To Play Your Favourite Songs on the Piano With a Skilled Teacher

If you want to become a confident pianist, your best bet is to work with a teacher in person or online. At Sing Music Studio, we can help you read music, play chords, improvise, read lead sheets, and more, and we want you to play the music you love. Get in touch regarding music lessons in Mississauga today.

5 Things to Know Before You Arrive

Our Virtual Kindermusik Foundations class for parents of babies under 6 months is coming up! Here’s an important list of 5 things to know before you arrive:

  • Baby can be easily fed on demand privately without missing any of the in-class experience by simply turning off the camera or turning away the camera while feeding.
  • Join us while baby is awake and alert or crib-side while baby sleeps. You will gain plenty of invaluable information in this class whether baby is awake or asleep.
  • If you have older children, they can easily join in with their own doll or play on their own. No need to get a sitter during class time.
  • Sweats, no make-up… no problem! Be comfortable and join as you are.
  • We recommend purchasing the baby instrument set (includes mirror, ball, shaker, bell, scarf) from the www.kindermusik.com store. Or alternately having similar items (that can be homemade) on hand during the class.

Click here to enroll now if you haven’t done so already!

8 Things You Didn’t Know about our Virtual Infant Class

We’ve run Kindermusik Foundations classes for babies before, but not like this! Unlike our typical baby-focused Kindermusik Foundations classes for 0-1 year olds, our Kindermusik Foundations classes for babies under 6 months focuses on PARENT education!

We always include child development and parenting tips sprinkled throughout our Kindermusik classes but this class will delve in much deeper. New parents can expect much needed everyday parenting resources, more conversation on whole-child and brain development and so much more though our musical approach!

Here are 8 things you didn’t know about our Virtual Infant Class

  1. Baby does not need to be awake to attend.
  2. You can attend from anywhere in the world and anywhere in your home, even crib-side with a sleeping baby!
  3. Grandparents and relatives can tune in for some much needed baby time
  4. You get access to 2 sets of Kindermusik Online that include all the music from class, ASL videos, additional activities, additional benefit information, stories and more!
  5. You can easily use household items to participate: light scarves or blankets, shakers made out of an empty container filled with beans or pasta, empty boxes or containers to bang like drums. Creativity is welcomed!
  6. You can turn off or turn away your camera while feeding and still remain connected and reap the benefits of class.
  7. You can download the free Kindermusik App and access tons of free music at anytime. Once your class begins and your Kindermusik Online access has been granted, you can also listen to your class music in the app with your class registration login!
  8. This class includes access to a private Facebook group with all sorts of great parenting resources!

Bonus for everyone who enrolls: receive a free baby bib!

Bonus for those who enroll before March 31st: receive a $10 Tim’s card!

More exciting content details will be announced next week via our IG, @singmusicstudio and Facebook page: www.facebook.com/singmusicstudio

Click here to enroll now!

New Virtual Infant Class: Sneak Peek

We are so excited to announce this fabulous and informative new virtual Kindermusik class! This specialty class for new parents of babies up to 6 months provides a sense of community, resources and support right from the comfort of your own home. Discover musical ways to support your baby’s development and foster bonding during this crucial time.

Here is a sneak peek into our new virtual infant class content on day one:

  • Class greeting ritual
  • Intentional touch
  • Exercise
  • Tummy/floor time
  • Movement activity
  • Instrument play
  • Vocal play and signing
  • Rocking
  • Dancing
  • Relaxation
  • Kindermusik Online introduction
  • Closing ritual

Be on the look out for bonuses and exciting announcements about this new virtual Kindermusik class in the coming weeks!

Enroll before March 31st 2021 for a bonus Tim’s card! Enroll online here.

Setting Your Child Up for Success

In today’s day and age, whether music lessons in Mississauga are virtual or in person, it is important to have proper tools at home for setting your child up for success with music education – no matter what instrument is being studied.

Music education is investment in your child. It’s not just about music, it’s about acquiring and mastering new learning and life skills that will shape and aide your child in navigating school, their future workplace, community and social situations throughout life. It’s about discovering a creative outlet, self esteem and so much more. But I digress as this is not about the plethora of benefits attributed to music education, it’s about making that music education successful!

Life has changed considerably throughout this pandemic and, in fact, in many ways for the better. Since we have moved our lessons to an online platform, one of the benefits we have seen at Sing Music Studio is getting a bird’s eye view into the at-home set-up our students have for practice. In some cases, it’s been just right but in others it’s been quite shocking to see the lack of appropriate at-home tools required for setting your child up for success with their music education. As musicians and educators, I think we sometimes take for granted our knowledge and forget to impart some of those really important basics on to our students! So let’s talk about what those important at home tools are, by instrument that we teach right here at Sing Music Studio.

Piano

  • A full 88 key digital piano/keyboard with touch sensitivity, weighted keys and a sustain pedal OR an acoustic piano.
  • Please note that if you have an acoustic piano, it will require tuning a minimum of twice a year (rule of thumb is when the weather changes from hot to cold and cold to hot).
  • Pianos and most digital pianos/keyboards have a built in or attachable music stand for reading music. If your keyboard does not, then you will need a separate music stand to sit behind it for displaying music for reading while playing.
  • An adjustable bench is recommended for growing students as they will need the bench to be higher when they are smaller and lower when they are taller so an adjustable bench will grow with them. Acoustic pianos often come with a fixed bench so a cushion may be necessary for extra height for very young students.
  • A footstool is also ideal for students whose feet do not reach the floor when seated.
  • A device for playing audio tracks, using any additional music apps, metronome and the Better Practice App that we use at Sing Music Studio.
  • For virtual piano lessons in Mississauga a laptop or device set-up with a side view of the student with instrument. Ideally the laptop/device should be elevated and angled down in order to get the best view of the fingers.

Singing

  • A sturdy music stand for holding sheet music and music books.
  • It is ideal for the student to stand but if the student will be seated, a sturdy chair preferably without arms is ideal so the student can sit on the front portion of the chair with appropriate posture.
  • A device for playing audio tracks, using any additional music apps, metronome and the Better Practice App that we use at Sing Music Studio.
  • Bonus but not required: a microphone, microphone stand, appropriate speaker and XLR cable (some students use a karaoke machine).
  • For virtual singing lessons in Mississauga laptop or device set-up with a direct front view of the student and music stand. Ideally the laptop/device should be elevated and angled down over the music stand in order to get the best view. 

Guitar

  • An acoustic or electric guitar – 1/2 size, 3/4 size or full size depending on the size of the student.
  • For an electric guitar, a practice amp and patch cable are also required.
  • For an acoustic guitar, a guitar footstool is recommended as well as a sturdy chair in which the student can easily touch the floor with both feet while sitting on the front portion of the chair with correct posture. The footstool will be used for one foot only and is shaped in a slope to accommodate correct posture.
  • A sturdy music stand for holding sheet music and music books.
  • A device for playing audio tracks, using any additional music apps, metronome and the Better Practice App that we use at Sing Music Studio.
  • For virtual lessons a laptop or device set-up with a direct front view of the student with instrument and music stand. Ideally the laptop/device should be elevated and angled down over the music stand in order to get the best view. 

Ukulele

  • A decent quality ukulele.
  • A sturdy music stand for holding sheet music and music books.
  • A device for playing audio tracks, using any additional music apps, metronome and the Better Practice App that we use at Sing Music Studio.
  • A sturdy chair in which the student can easily touch the floor with both feet or use a stool for both feet while sitting on the front portion of the chair with correct posture.
  • For virtual lessons a laptop or device set-up with a direct front view of the student with instrument and music stand. Ideally the laptop/device should be elevated and angled down over the music stand in order to get the best view. 

Recorder and Clarinet

  • A decent quality recorder or clarinet.
  • A sturdy music stand for holding sheet music and music books.
  • A device for playing audio tracks, using any additional music apps, metronome and the Better Practice App that we use at Sing Music Studio.
  • A sturdy chair in which the student can easily touch the floor with both feet or use a stool for both feet while sitting on the front portion of the chair with correct posture.
  • For virtual lessons a laptop or device set-up with a direct front view of the student with instrument and music stand. Ideally the laptop/device should be elevated and angled down over the music stand in order to get the best view. 

Drums

  • Drum sticks (our instructor recommends starting out with Vic Firth 5A) – at least 1 pair though it’s not a bad idea to have a few pairs.
  • At the very minimum, the student should have a practice pad.
  • Ideally, the student should have an appropriately sized drum kit that includes a minimum of drum throne (that’s the seat), bass drum, snare drum and hi-hat. Additional drums and cymbals can be included from the start or added later. Either an acoustic or an electric kit is suitable.
  • A sturdy music stand for holding sheet music and music books.
  • A device for playing audio tracks, using any additional music apps, metronome and the Better Practice App that we use at Sing Music Studio.
  • For virtual lessons a laptop or device set-up with a direct front view of the student at the drum kit or seated with the practice pad.

You might have noticed that I mentioned the Better Practice App in the lists above. This is an amazing new tool we are using at Sing Music Studio that aides the student in setting up terrific practice habits. Our instructors assign homework right in the app each week and can include audio and video links and recordings and pdf’s right in each assignment! Students login to their private accounts to follow their homework notes and practice. They can utilize a built in metronome, play along with recordings (and even adjust the tempo), work towards specific goals and even ask questions directly to their instructor. Once they have completed practicing an assignment, they rate themselves on how well they practiced and this intuitive app then logs their practice and makes recommendations on what to practice in their next session! This tool adds accountability, excitement and helps students to tangibly see their progress – creating a better practice routine and setting your child up for success!

As I mentioned earlier, music education is an investment and therefore requires investment in the appropriate tools to set your child up for success. Sure you can buy an inexpensive toy guitar or ukulele at Toys R Us or a cheap knock off keyboard at Costco but are these “instruments” (that easily break and rarely stay tuned) the quality tools you want to provide for your child’s musical success? And when I say quality, I’m not saying you need to go over the top with high end, high priced instruments. There is a wide range of affordable and suitable instruments that are made by companies that specialize in instruments out there. You wouldn’t purchase a car from a box store so why would you purchase a keyboard from a toy store? Music stores are the best choice for purchasing an instrument as the staff are knowledgeable and can aide you in the most appropriate purchase for your child’s size, age and stage of learning and usually have a repairs department. Music stores often sell used instruments and many have rental departments which is a great option for beginner students who have signed up for our 4 week trial.

In addition to having the right tools, let’s talk about the best environment at home to set your child up for success with their music education. Create a designated music area for your child’s practice and virtual lessons that is private and free from interruptions. That means it’s a sibling free zone (I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen younger siblings running circles in the background during virtual lessons distracting the student from their playing, lol) and away from family members’ conversations and other household noises. This may not be 100% possible depending on your at-home environment but (especially for virtual lessons) minimizing the distractions is very helpful in teaching your child to focus and setting you child up for success. The extra sounds during a virtual lesson actually create a lot of interference, glitching and poor sound quality during a lesson which make it more difficult for both the student and the instructor.

Finally, for our young beginner students, when you (the parent) get involved, you really are setting your child up for success. By guiding them in their practice each day and even sitting in on their lessons each week, you are helping them to feel supported and secure. Children learn best when they have an engaged parent alongside them. You are your child’s number one teacher – and you have been from the start – so why should music education be any different? And, maybe you didn’t get to learn an instrument when you were young so, even better, make your child’s lessons a semi-private lesson and REALLY learn alongside them! Now that’s a pretty fabulous way of setting your child up for success!

Announcing the NEW Sing Music Studio!

Summer of 2019 has been pretty incredible so far! It’s seen the birth of my first baby, Bernadette Cassandra, on June 12th and the rebirth of my other “baby”, Sing Music Studio… who has also grown up to become Sing Music Studio Inc. I could not be more excited for all that is to come. So without any further adieu… Announcing the NEW Sing Music Studio!

Kindermusik classes and piano lessons will begin in our new home at 1575 Clarkson Rd N on August 6th, 7th and 8th. You will likely find Bernadette, Neal and I around quite often as we get everything ready to go for our big launch and Grand Opening on September 7th from 11am to 2pm. Make sure to connect with us for more details on that coming soon! In the meantime, you can register here for August classes or email us at info@singmusicstudio.com for August piano lessons!

Music and Cognitive Benefits

Did you know that making music is the ONLY activity that taps into ALL portions of the brain? That’s pretty powerful stuff! And that’s a huge reason why we do what we do – we are passionate about music education and the benefits of music. While yes, I’m a pro-musician and I LOVE making music… Our focus at Sing Music Studio is not to create little musicians. Our focus is on the incredible benefits that making music has for ALL children.

Watch this short video that explains about music and cognitive benefits. You’ll also see Kindermusik kids in action.

For more information on our Kindermusik program and to watch some short class demo videos, visit www.singmusicstudio.com/kindermusik

Here’s another fabulous article on the benefits of music: https://smartparentadvice.com/benefits-of-music/