Piano and Keyboard lessons from Glenn Sutton in Poway and San Diego

5 Habits to Avoid When Learning to Play Piano

Home page

Beginning Piano Students’ 5 Worst Habits

Learning to play piano can be an extremely rewarding experience, but you may be unintentionally hampering your progress and success. Bad piano-playing habits can be unlearned, but it’s far better to prevent the habits from forming in the first place. Today, we will go over several ineffective habits acquired by beginning-to-intermediate players, the consequences, and the cures.

Incorrect Posture

This is probably the most common bad habit of beginning piano players. If you are not sitting up correctly, or if your arms aren’t at the proper level relative to the keyboard, it causes two major problems. Firstly, it can make playing piano more difficult than it needs to be, as your arms, hands, and especially your fingers have to do more and stretch more than is comfortable or necessary. Secondly, over time this extra work can lead to pain and fatigue both in your hands and the rest of your body.

Teenage girl playing the piano with good posture

Playing the piano with good posture

Ideally, you should not be sitting too low or high on your piano stool. Your elbows should be level with the keyboard.

Overusing Your Fingers or Playing “Loudly”

This habit ties in with the previous bad habit. Some budding pianists place too much emphasis on playing with the hands and fingers rather than letting the arms assist. This tends to have a “banging” effect, which is unpleasant to many ears. In addition, it can put unnecessary strain on your hands, especially your fingers. Similarly, do not let your wrists bounce. Let your arms do their fair share of the work. You will find the going much smoother.

Forgetting to Breathe

As pianos are not wind instruments, we don’t always think about breathing while playing. It is very easy to get tensed up while playing and this can drain your energy and make playing more difficult. If you catch yourself tensing up, take a moment and ask yourself if you are breathing. This is not a dumb question. Taking a deep breath and monitoring your breathing while playing is a good way to increase your energy and smooth out your playing. After a while you won’t need to monitor yourself; proper breathing will become second nature.


In this instance, we are not speaking of stuttering in your speech, but in your playing. It happens when you hit a wrong note or chord, or make a similar mistake. A bad habit is formed when you go back and repeat the note or chord you just boo-booed. It sounds amateurish, particularly if it happens more than once while you’re playing. It is far better to play on through rather than to go back and replay what you just made a mistake on. It is easier on you mentally and physically. In other words, don’t dwell on the mistake; you will get it right next time.

Playing Too Fast or Too Slow

Sometimes in your zeal to play a number you like, you may speed up the tempo of your playing, achieving a rushed and sloppy sound. Similarly, if you’re playing something relatively new or complex, you may be tempted to take it slower than the suggested tempo in an effort to avoid mistakes. This can make the song seem dull. Endeavor as often as possible to play songs at the intended tempo.


It is mentioned often in these articles, and bears repeating: Training with a music instructor is superior to self-training. A piano teacher will be able to identify and help you prevent or reverse bad playing habits such as these more quickly and effectively than you would be able to do on your own.

For keyboard and piano lessons contact Glenn Sutton at: 619-306-3664.

Services include:

  • Keyboard Lessons
  • Piano Lessons
  • Organ Instruction
  • Electric Guitar Lessons
  • Bass Guitar Lessons
  • Acoustic Guitar Lessons
  • Learning to Write Music
  • Advanced Improv Techniques
  • Performance Techniques



  • Rock
  • Classic
  • Folk
  • Jazz
  • Improv
  • Blues


  • Poway
  • San Diego
  • Rancho Bernardo
  • Rancho Penasquitos
  • Scripps Ranch
  • 4S Ranch
  • Sabre Springs