Music Information

What All Do I Have to Know to be a Really Good Piano Player?

Many students ask me a question that goes something like this:"What all do I have to know to be a really good piano player?"

The trouble with a question like that is that it ignores individual differences such as talent, motivation, freedom to practice, and a hundred other variables.

How much did Mozart have to know? How much did Erroll Garner know? Mozart could play far better than I can when he was 3. And Garner was barred from joining the musicians union because he couldn't read music.

Does that mean I don't have to practice, since Mozart could do it without practice? Does that mean I shouldn't learn how to read music since Garner couldn't, and it sure didn't stop him.

Obviously, no.

I wish I had the talent of a Garner or a Mozart, but I don't. Nowhere close. But God gave me some talent, and it's that talent that I need to develop to it's maximum.

Same with you, unless you're in a class with those guys, in which case you certainly don't need me.

Back when I operated Piano University & Keyboard Workshop, we had a list of skills that we attempted to inculcate into our students, at least to some degree. Here is that list:





Ear Training

Music Theory

Sight Reading



Runs & Fills









Feeling & emotion

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it's a start. So as you play and practice, think about each of these areas individually, and focus on improving them one at a time.

Duane Shinn is the author of over 500 music books and music educational materials such as DVD's, CD's, musical games for kids, chord charts, musical software, and piano lesson instructional courses for adults. His book-CD-DVD course titled "How To Dress Up Naked Music On The Piano!" has sold countless copies around the world. He holds advanced degrees from Southern Oregon University and was the founder of Piano University in Southern Oregon. He is the author of the popular free 101-week online e-mail newsletter titled Amazing Secrets Of Exciting Piano Chords & Sizzling Chord Progressions with over 57,400 current subscribers.

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