After 20 years of teaching hundreds of singers how to efficiently play piano, I STILL get asked this questions all the time: Why do singers need piano skills? In this article and video, I will share with you my TOP 5 incredibly compelling reasons why every singer should play some piano.
Anyone who knows me knows that one of my biggest passions is life is empowering singers at the piano. I have spent over two decades developing teaching methods that are super effective. I have literally "written the book(s)" on this subject!
#1: To learn music theory
Play Major and Minor Chords on PianoThe piano is the best vessel for building a clear foundation of music theory. Just the setup of the instrument makes understanding music theory so easy to understand. All of the notes are literally in front of you in black and white!
I have worked with scores of singers who have taken traditional music theory courses, with their workbooks and written assignments, and it has led them nowhere. It’s not until we start doing simple work at the piano keyboard, learning intervals, scales and chords that the light really goes on and they develop a true understanding of music theory fundamentals.
#2: To build musicianship skills
Musicianship skills and ear training can be effortlessly learned by using the piano. Remember all of those simple piano exercises I shared a moment ago? You are playing the theory concepts as you are learning them, which means you are also hearing them.
Within a few weeks of learning piano, you will start to identify intervals, chord qualities and melodic shapes, and it won’t require anything more effort then just singing along with the exercises. Learning to play piano will help to expand your musical ear and will grow your musicianship skills exponentially.
#3: To learn songs quicker
The ability to play the piano will make learning songs music easier. Rather than relying on your voice teacher to teach you every melody you need to learn, you can self administer those songs by playing them on piano. It doesn’t take a lot of skill to be able to do it either!
Think of all the time and money you will save by not relying on other people to play your songs for you.
Some folks say “well, why not just learn from a recording?” The idea of this is fine, but it’s much more efficient to learn from the sheet music. This will ensure that you are playing exactly the notes the composer intended - you can never be sure if a recording you are listening to is 100% accurate. Not to mention that there are songs that don’t have recordings available at all.
It is much more efficient to sit down at the piano and play your melody for yourself. You then have control over how fast you play it and how many times you need to repeat a phrase or a section.
#4: To be a more confident musician
I cannot tell you how many singesr I have worked with who feel shame over the fact that they can’t play piano. I detail it in this blog post.
Piano skills open up your musicianship and your theory skills - both important components that make you feel more like a “real” musician. Having the knowledge of piano can help you to better communicate with other musicians, which will make you feel more successful in rehearsal and performance opportunities.
You’ll have more efficient rehearsals, better performances and will feel confident to stand in a group with other musicians and know that you know your stuff.
#5: To open up more opportunities
In the 21st century, it’s no longer enough to just be a good singer. In order to survive and thrive, you need to broaden your skill set and open up more opportunities to work in music.
When you can play piano, even at the basic level, more gig opportunities open up. Imagine accompanying yourself as a soloist - playing in restaurants, bars or clubs. You could do a singalong piano bar gig, or play at private events. You could play keyboards and sing back up in a band, or even lead the band from the piano/keyboard. Songwriters can enjoy recording their own demos without having to pay other musicians to help them get their songs on tape.
Teaching voice lessons, music classes and conducting choirs is also much more viable with some functional piano skills. I can’t tell you how many great jobs I won over other singers, just because I had solid piano skills.
Learning piano doesn't have to be a longterm struggle!
I know the prospect of learning piano can be intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be so! You don’t need to be a total virtuoso in order to function well at the piano.
You just need to know some basic chords, a few accompaniment strategies and a basic ability to read treble clef and you’re good to go.
Crash Course in Piano Skills for Singers is a gentle, no-fluff, let's-get-this-done piano course that is based on the principals of my bestselling Piano Skills for Singers courses.
The course runs live on Zoom Thursday, June 1st at 1pm ET and Friday, June 2nd at 6pm ET and you can come to either day or both (same workshop both days).
You'll get access to the live 90 workshop, a downloadable course book and 21 day access to the replay. A STEAL at only $72.
Learn from master teacher Brenda Earle Stokes, who has helped hundreds of singers all over the world to build real skills in piano.
Learning piano skills is a great investment
Taking the time to develop your piano skills is an incredible investment that pays huge dividends. All you need to to commit to taking 20 minutes a day to work through this material. With the right direction and a little elbow grease, you'll be on your way to accompanying yourself, having a better sense of theory and musicianship AND you'll be getting more musical opportunities.
You can do this!