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Get Your Mindset Right To Learn Piano

Hey everyone!  As I mentioned in my YouTube Live video last week, one of my resolutions for 2018 is push out more content for you guys – full song lessons, tips and tricks, fun facts, motivations, and more.  Well, my mom taught me to always be a man of my word, so here you go!  Click the video below to learn Get Your Mindset Right To Learn Piano. I hope you enjoy!



You know what? I’ve been really stewing and pondering the last few months comparing students in my online method who really shine and are making great progress against students who are struggling more and moving a lot more slowly.  I’ve identified something that has bubbled to the surface that really seems to separate some students versus others.. I’ll share it with you in this quick video …

(Graphic Open)

Hi gang… We are always trying to refine and keep improving the results we see in our online method at It’s really kind of a fun “living laboratory” as we keep getting more and more great data and feedback as more and more students work their way through the 6 Courses in the full Method.

The GREAT thing about it is that we can then make continuous, incremental improvements to the method by adding more, or revised, lessons and exercises, and we can add more supplementary resources where needed to give students a little boost in areas that we see need some improvement.

However, when looking at all that I kept feeling that, beyond the actual nuts and bolts of what i was teaching, there was something else that was seemingly causing some student to just sail through the method while others kind of went through kicking and screaming a bit 🙂

It had nothing to do with skill or previous experience because some were not asking a single question, and others were asking me about everything under the sun. And there also did to seem to be a correlation between those that had taken lessons previously and those starting from scratch with our Method.

After really pondering the interactions, questions, feedback, etc I think i have finally put my finger on the pulse of the situation, and the reality is that it comes down to the mindset of the student coming into the program.

I’m now going to delve into that further and share with you the mindset of the students really succeeding the most and the fastest…

I think this may help kind of visualize the process, at least as I see and perceive it:

When you start you come in with some mindset, or maybe you can call it a pre-conceived idea if that works better for you, of whatever it is you are trying to tackle – in this case learning to have some fun playing piano- right?

Then you bring that mindset into the game with you and start taking some action to achieve the goal – in this case you enroll and start working through the Method and take my instruction

Then after some effort you will achieve some results – good or bad— but results nonetheless… Some result will come out of this process …  OK then…

What I am finding out is this mindset at the beginning is turning out to be, i think, very consequential to the end results my students are experiencing.

So let me list a few potential mindsets that I have found pretty well cover the vast majority of what I think my students are feeling coming to this Method as a newly enrolled student. Most everyone falls into one of the mental baskets I think:

“This online method obviously works for some people but it probably won’t work for me. I don’t think I am (insert smart enough, talented enough, young enough etc) to do this but I’ll cross my fingers and give it a whirl.”

– So maybe we call that the “non-confidents”. They don’t discount the veracity of my Course, they just don’t think they have what it takes.

“I’ve tried to play piano previously to no avail. I’ll hope Scott can work a miracle and teach me this time … This is my last chance …”

– I kind of think of this mind-set as the “wing and a prayer” group. Like “one more chance and this is it – it’s all or nothing now.”

“This is all hogwash – my Mom/Wife/Spouse/etc. is a classical piano teacher and I know better you charlatan. Just to prove wrong you are I’m going to enroll then send it all back in! (However, I sure would like to sound like the way you play and not need to rely so much on reading music …)”

– This group is who we refer to as the “know alls,” who if they “really” knew it all would have been exposed to this completely legit, yet very different style of playing previous to coming across my method. I’ve said it a million times in public… I didn’t “invent” any whiz bang new way to play. Non-classical professional piano players have been playing like this for 100 years … I just decided to bring this style to the masses with my TV show and online lessons rather than keep it under wraps.

– So as bothered as these folks get by what I seem to represent (which always makes me chuckle that someone could get so up in arms over trying to teach piano -sheesh!), this small crowd are too intrigued not to try, but they are clearly getting in feet first rather than head first and are ready to shout “off with his head” at the first moment possible.

(Actually the great back-story to this group is that inevitable, after a slow start of getting over total disbelief, they usually end up being some of our very best students. Ha!)

Well, those are all the mindsets associated with having a tougher road to hoe as you work through the method. It doesn’t mean you won’t succeed because I have many students that do succeed that share those thoughts with me at some point. It’s just not as smooth and efficient a journey … There are seemingly a lot more potholes and detours along the route that are caused solely by fighting mental roadblocks and not having anything to do with the physical reality of learning to play piano.

So instead of those mindsets, what is the mindset that I am finding students have who are having the easiest, fastest, and most fun time using my program? Well it’s something along these lines …

“Knowing Scott has taught this way non-stop on public TV,  in multiple books and videos and now in this online Method for 20+ years, even if I have never heard about this style of playing before and am clueless about it, it can’t be some hocus-pocus BS or he’d have been tarred and feathered long before now.

And after learning about the whole program, and seeing the tons of testimonials from actual students, I totally trust that Scott knows what he is talking about and how to teach piano this way.

I may not be the smartest or most experienced or most talented, but by golly what I KNOW is that I am coachable. I am ready to take instruction.”   

“I don’t think it will take a miracle, nor do I think Scott has a magic wand… I am confident that if I simply go through the program listening and watching the lessons and using the books, and actually take action and apply myself by spending some seat time at the piano, that I can join the thousands of people Scott has taught in the past and can get to a point of having fun playing. It will bring me immeasurable joy and pride to know I did this…”

I think that’s the critical point – not coming in *pushing back* against the process !!!

An analogy is probably anyone who has trained for a half-marathon or something where you know there are thousands of other people doing it, or have done it in the past. Some a lot more athletic, some a lot less, but you know darn well that if you just go through the effort of getting the miles in with smaller runs for 10-12 weeks, you’ll have what it takes to run the darn thing in the end. It’s no mystery or miracle. You’ll have some rough days where you feel terrible, and you’ll have some where you feel better, but if you just follow the program, in the end you’ll achieve your goal.

Well that’s the mindset that our most successful students have.

They don’t constantly wait for any small difficulty to mentally trip their “See -I knew it wouldn’t work!” switch … They have the calmness and confidence to just take the instruction as I give it, without constantly judging themselves harshly; and they ARE asking questions when needed without obsessing over perfection; and just letting their brain and hands slowly absorb this cool new stuff they are feeding themselves knowing it will not happen overnight, but it will also not take years. They relish in the fact they are finally chipping away at something they’ve wanted to do, for most people, their entire lives. In short – they are having fun and enjoying the process – and remaining receptive to the new bite-size chunks I keep dosing out throughout the Courses.

It’s really the beauty of the way I designed the pedagogy of this and the capability we have due to this being available 24/7 as opposed to going for big “blasts” every 7 days in a private lesson.

It is the ultimate real world example of the old adage of “How do you eat an elephant? One small bite at a time …”

So if you are pondering enrolling, or even if you are a current student just starting out and one of those kind of negative mindsets I described kind of poked you in the ribs … Try to get your mindset more squared away with simply being open to taking instruction without pre-conceived judgement, and having faith in the process.

This has worked for, literally, thousands upon thousands of people before you. Assuming you are willing to trust the process and take consistent small, easily digestible bites of instruction there is not a reason in the world it won’t work for you too …

As always – have FUN playing piano … Thanks for your time.

-Scott Houston

  • don Sandford
    Posted at 08:56h, 05 February

    Nice presentation by you meant for those who haven’t studied your course at all. I have tried your method quite a bit. I wanted to be able eventually forget about books, lead sheets, chords etc and just play by ear without any aids.. Chords are – no problem but a melody line is. With my working knowledge of how music works, it doesn’t come naturally on the piano like it does on my guitar with chords and leads.. If you could explain why not, it might be a way I could enjoy piano more…Tks

    • Scott Houston
      Posted at 12:03h, 05 February

      Don, I can’t explain the difference you experience between guitar and piano, but I can tell you that in Courses 4-6 in the Online Method there is an overriding arc of getting you playing more by ear. In Course 4 it starts with the intervalic ear training which are the building blocks you need to start “sensing” where chord progressions are going without having anything written to guide you. Then in Courses 5 and 6, armed with the ear training you get in 4, I can get into having you recognize common progressions, start working on improvisation, and a bunch of other little things that all kind of combine to give someone the ability to start playing by ear.

  • Gracie Hilton
    Posted at 09:14h, 05 February

    From an online (since Sept. 2017) student:

    Inspired and motivated by the music from the Broadway blockbuster HAMILTON—and enjoying MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET multiple times—four thus far! —I yearned to learn to play “Great Balls of Fire,” Jerry Lee Lewis-style!
    Well! That was a bit of a stretch for this 72-year-old with a bare minimum of piano/music familiarity…a few grade school years of one-on-one lessons and I “cheated” (lied!) when I told my parents I’d done my daily practice.

    I investigated one-on-one lessons and time commitments made that impossible. I bought another online piano course, where I spent more time printing the lessons than ‘doing’ them… then I watched the Scott Houston (SH) webinar and decided this was was my best bet.

    It’s taken me four months to make it through Book 2. Why? I’m not a “natural” at this… and other life commitments (we all have them!) occasionally slow me down in getting through the lessons and time at the keyboard.

    BUT: When I do make the time to do what’s necessary to learn and improve, I enjoy it to the max! ❣️

    This I’ve learned:
    •Forget Great Balls of Fire for now! That’s a long-term goal! For now, my goal is a rockin’ version of Amazing Grace!
    •Forget trying to *perfect* the skills in every lesson before moving on. Case in point: I love all the “ruffles and flourishes” SH demonstrates—the “run ups” and “slides” and multiple chord inversions. I want to learn them!—but have faith that with repetition and moving forward, those skills will eventually come!
    •Practice may not “make Perfect” but it’s essential!

    I *enjoy* the lessons and the practice—most unlike my experience at ages 9-12! It’s now fun, not work!

    I ramble on… time to start Book 3!

    Delighted to expect regular motivational correspondence from you—as detailed in your “mindset” discussion!
    Gracie Hilton, Arlington TX

    • Scott Houston
      Posted at 12:25h, 05 February

      Thanks for sharing Gracie 🙂 And let me say that taking 4 months to get through Course 1 and 2 is nothing to fret about at all … That’s pretty fantastic progress if you ask me! Realize that the content taught in those two Courses normally takes from 12-18 months when taking weekly private lessons. Doing it in 4 is terrific. Good for you!

  • Bobby
    Posted at 09:41h, 05 February

    Lots of positive enforcement. Great video

  • Steve Dalbec
    Posted at 11:03h, 05 February

    Hi Scott

    Your timing with writing this blog was on the mark.
    I bought your complete course during Black Friday and at the same time bought a digital Piano that had many of features you had suggested in your emails to me.

    There may be one more category -those who just don’t get started. Your on-line lessons have barely been opened, and that Piano still is in its box unopened also.

    I could give the excuse we are selling our house and have begun the task of cleaning up all of our accumulations through the years -but it would just be an excuse.

    I am now retired and unless I’m fishing I ‘ve got plenty of time. Once I rid an area of my basement with remnants from a business I use to have, I’ve got a perfect area to setup my piano, the computer I’ll use and other equipment I gathered through the years to once again write and sing music-now with a Piano vs. a guitar I played for 40+ years.

    So your help in putting a plan together as to how much practice time “is the right amount of time” would be helpful. Is an hour or two 6x a week a workable plan?

    End of this month marks two years since a life changing event occurred for me. I first wrote you several months after that day expressing interest in your program. Took till this past Fall to write you again and get your thoughts on learning how to Play the Piano.

    Heck, just writing this note to you has me re-evaluation my Life’s To Do List and my desire to learn the piano.

    Thanks again, Scott.

    • Ryan Eldridge
      Posted at 11:07h, 05 February


      It is so great to hear that you are jumping back into it. As to your question about practicing, and hour or two 6x a week is more than enough! My main desire is that people move and learn at their own pace, so if that works for you and is comfortable, then go for it!

      Happy playing!
      Scott Houston

  • John
    Posted at 17:17h, 05 February

    I am thinking of buying a digital piano. I have one in mind, but could you give me your thoughts on digital pianos in general and then what I should be looking for before I commit to buying one. Any brands that are reliably good? Anything, or brand, that I should avoid?

  • Michael Ohalloran
    Posted at 22:54h, 05 February

    Hey Scott,
    Great blog. . You’re right as you say. Mind set is a huge deal. Remembering I’m an absolute beginner before course one, ( no actually I stumbled on your free tuition of Imagine and paid a couple of bucks to finish it off ) then I bought course one. Now I’m so full of knowledge , about to finish course 3 I’ll have you know,
    That sometime I say to my wife, “No, it’s just not working for me tonight” like a superstar who didn’t get red star burst jellies in the green room, and I storm off until tomorrow and guess what ………….love it.
    Think I might not have any hair left by the time I get Great Ball Of Fire underhand , but one thing for sure, I know I’ll get it . Thanks
    Michael OH. Port Stephens Australia

  • Jan Schuster
    Posted at 23:26h, 06 February

    Thanks for the shot in the arm! I’ve taken a long break (life happens), but am ready to get to those lessons in Courses 4,5, & 6. Learning to play by ear was the reason I signed up for the course. Sounds like we’re both renewed for 2018!

  • Lorna Murphy
    Posted at 14:16h, 07 February

    Yikes, I am still working with book 1. Thanks for touching base and giving me a kick in the butt.

  • Lois
    Posted at 14:08h, 08 June

    I’ve ordered so many various things over the years to learn this or that. And it has often sat on the shelf–some of them unopened even. I’m happy that you addressed attitude here. I’m hoping I’ll do better on this,especially since I can already read music. I have a head start, right?

    • Ryan Eldridge
      Posted at 15:54h, 10 June

      Hello! It does sound like you have a bit of a head start. I see that you jumped into Courses 1 and 2. That’s great! I hope you enjoy the lessons.


      Piano In A Flash

  • Bill Wynn
    Posted at 17:46h, 02 November

    I do not have a piano but can get access to an electronic keyboard, does it work with that as well?

    • Hannah Derleth
      Posted at 14:30h, 13 November

      Hi Bill!

      Yes, acoustic or electronic pianos will work for this course!

  • Stan Lobo
    Posted at 21:58h, 07 December

    Hi listening to you all I am inspired to want to learn online . Can you please help me ?

    • Hannah Derleth
      Posted at 12:27h, 15 December

      Hi Stan! I just sent your info to our CS team, they should follow up with you soon!

  • Ari
    Posted at 08:14h, 21 December

    Impressed by your analytic presentation. Am willing to give it a good go if it is not too expensive. 🙆


    • Hannah Derleth
      Posted at 13:15h, 21 December

      Hi Ari, I’m sending your info to our CS team. They will reach out with more information!

  • Richard Tidmarsh
    Posted at 05:39h, 12 June

    After a long illness,I’m happy to say that I am about to start the course which I purchased in full about six months ago…I enjoyed your most recent e/mail and hope to stay in touch as my need requires…

  • Ray Garafano
    Posted at 15:32h, 16 July

    Hello Scott,
    Yup It’s all in the attitude, This is a hobby but I know I love it, either ya wanna learn . . . well I can’t speak for others
    but I started out in the traditional way, learning scales, Finger exercise by Hanon and I am GLAD. I have confidence
    I can do this. Iyt will not always be easy but nothing worthwhile is.I am pretty much doing it your way, reading music from The Eagles,B.Dylan, Beatles, and some classical with two clefs. .. my attitude being I want to be a pianist/musician doing pops and YES Classical. I can say you have been a big help Scott, getting to read music with one clef, the upper, my
    playing is better and play the easier works more and more as I enjoy it. some pieces getting slightly getting more difficult
    so I take time to work it outSo a HEARTY Thanks to you Scott!, ppl who supposedly know it all sort of set them self up in
    a negative way. . .if they know it all they should be able to play easier and quicker than everyone, cuz they know it all.

  • Ray Garafano
    Posted at 08:19h, 22 July

    Most of my students are sailing right through but some are kicking and screaming. . .
    Sounds like they see the piano as a torture device, akin to going to the dentist or
    maybe the scaffold and gallows? Playing piano or learning is supposed to be a very
    nice hobby! getting into music.

    I started the hard way, traditional as if for wanting to play classical, which I do,
    but one must be very good at reading music. Scott’s way is much better as it
    allows me to really enjoy piano, and I still practice playing classical, BUT with
    finding out from Scott, that there is a much easier way to play other than
    classical. Scott, THANKS. I am enjoying it, playing Eagles,Beatles, Bob Dylan. . .

    You Rock Man!