beginner learning classical piano

Learning Piano As an Adult- Everything You Need to Know

Whether you’re 20, 50, or 80, you’re never to old to start learning to play the piano. Here’s all the info you need to know if you’re interested in learning piano as an adult.

As a piano teacher with decades of teaching experience, I can honestly say that the most common question I get is from adults wondering if it’s still possible to learn piano as an adult.

In this post, I’d like to address this topic. How old is too old to learn the piano? Can you still learn to play at 30, at 50, at 80? How fast will you progress, and what are some realistic expectations as a student?

 

No, you’re not too old to learn piano!

Over the course of my teaching career, I’ve worked with beginning piano students ranging from age 4 to 80. I have yet to meet a student that was incapable of making great progress. Of course, some students learn faster than others, but age is by no means the most important factor. 

Success as an Adult Piano Beginner Depends on Commitment and Passion

In my experience, it’s not a person’s age that determines success at the piano. It’s the willingness to set aside a regular practice time, free of distractions, and to stick with it over a substantial period of time even when things seem challenging. If you can do this, you’re virtually guaranteed to make substantial progress in learning the piano. So what compels a piano student to practice regularly? That’s where the passion comes in. If you have a love of music, you’ll be willing to put in the time necessary to improve. In fact, that time will be incredibly enjoyable, and you’ll find yourself making great strides and loving every step of the process, no matter your age.

Learn piano on your own schedule with my complete online course.

Do Adults Learn Piano As Fast As Children?

Yes and no. This is a complicated question, because there are certain piano skills that are much easier for children to learn, and others that are much easier for adults to learn.

The purely mechanical aspects of piano playing, like the coordination of playing with both hands at the same time, tend to be easier for children, for the same reason that children tend to be faster as video games and so forth. But there are many exceptions to this rule.

On the other hand, there are things that adult piano beginners learn much quicker. For example, I can explain to any adult in five minutes how to build major and minor chords, or the difference between the harmonic and melodic minor scales. Explaining the same thing to a five-year-old? No chance.

Can an Adult Beginner Become a Professional Pianist?

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but I know of no one who started piano as an adult and became a professional performer. Not one single person. The perfection required to play piano as a professional can only be achieved when one starts young, just like ballerinas or gymnasts. 

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t eventually learn advanced pieces, maybe even eventually Rachmaninoff, Chopin and Liszt! Adults can still become very advanced players, and have lots of fun learning in the process! 

How long does it take an adult beginner to learn piano?

The answer to this question depends on the what one defines as “learning piano.” Most adults can learn to play a simple song with melody and chords (like “Happy Birthday” or “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” in the first lesson or two. 

 

I’ve had adult beginners in their fifties playing piece’s like Bach’s “Minuet in G”, Beethoven’s “Für Elise” or “Moonlight Sonata”, or Yann Tiersen’s “Comptine d’une autre été” after less than a year of study. I would say that a student who sets aside 45 minutes per day to practice could expect to achieve this level. 

On the other hand, difficult masterworks like the Chopin Etudes or Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Sonata will take ten years or more to master. But there’s no law in piano playing that says you have to learn the most difficult pieces!

 Regardless of your level, there are countless great pop and classical pieces to tackle. My online course, for example, has hundreds of pieces arranged into 15 different difficulty levels, so you’ll have an idea of which pieces to play. 

Results vary, of course, based on level of talent, amount of dedication, and yes, to some extent, age. But again, I’ve had students upwards of 60 years old make great progress!

 

Do I need a teacher?

While it is certainly possible to learn a great deal about the piano on your own, it certainly helps if you can find a good teacher. The teacher will quickly be able to spot wrong notes, technical problems, or bad posture and help you to correct those things before they become bad habits.

A good online piano course can also help you learn a great deal on your own, and can be a great supplement to private piano lessons. Due to the structured curriculum, you’ll find that you progress much faster at the piano than if you just try to learn from random Youtube tutorials.

Conclusion

There is absolutely no reason not to learn piano as an adult! Not only do you have every chance of success, but you’ll be beginning an activity which can provide you a lifetime of enjoyment. And research shows that playing the piano keeps you mentally fit and lights up more neurons than just about any other activity. So what are you waiting for? Begin your piano journey today! 

If you’re a beginner and are looking for some great pieces to play, I recommend reading my Five Easy Classical Pieces For Beginners or Five Easy Pieces For Piano Beginners, which includes some pop music recommendations.

I wish you much success with your piano journey, and happy practicing!

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