Learning to play an instrument as an adult can be an immensely rewarding endeavor.
Unlike learning piano or guitar as a child, though, it comes with a different set of challenges and obstacles to overcome.
How long does it take to learn piano as an adult?
This all depends on the effort you put in, whether or not you work with a tutor, and if you use the right resources. For example, many consider the best book to learn piano to be ‘Piano Book for Adult Beginners’ by Damon Ferrante.
While a child might pursue a grade in piano, for example, you might just be looking for a way to release tension from the stress of the workday.
Or perhaps you are looking to work towards a grade, to prove that you can still develop meaningful skills even after school or university.
Whatever the case, the process of learning piano as an adult is a whole other ball game, so we put together this guide to provide you with an overview of all the pros and cons.
How hard is it to learn piano?
To learn a keyboard or piano you’ll have to put in a lot of effort. If you try to learn piano by yourself it will be much harder than if you were to work with a tutor. For example, learning the right left-hand techniques to improve your weaker hand will be challenging.
We’re going to start by outlining the journey of learning the piano, to give you a clear idea of what to expect from the moment you make the decision.
How do you Learn to Play the Piano?
The piano is a beautiful instrument, and one that is often overlooked in favour of the more glamorous guitar, or the cathartic drum kit.
But it’s an elegant instrument and one which can be relaxing to play and open your eyes to new genres of music.
It’s also the perfect accompaniment to an adult evening of entertainment, so if you enjoy hosting dinner parties with friends or family, then the piano could be the perfect instrument for you.
But how do you learn to play the piano?
Well, we hate to be the bearers of bad news, but playing the piano well is far from easy and requires a lot of hard work and time.
You will also have to get familiar - perhaps more than you’d like to - with musical theory and notation.
Yes, unfortunately, that means you’re going to have to learn to read music!
It’s not all doom and gloom, though, and although the process of learning to read sheet music may seem tedious and time-consuming, it doesn’t have to be.
Once you have a grasp of the basic ideas, such as the basic elements that make up staff, then you’re already halfway there.
And at the end of the day, it all depends on how you approach the learning process. We’re big advocates for intrinsic motivation over extrinsic motivation, and here’s why:
Intrinsic motivation refers to an inner desire to do something.
For example, you may decide to pick up the piano because you enjoy the process of pressing the keys with your fingers and the audial feedback that this action produces. Or perhaps you get a lot out of the journey of self-development so learning a new skill feeds into this and gives you energy.
The reason why this type of motivation is often best is that it comes from within and in theory can’t be taken away from you.
Extrinsic motivation is when you draw inspiration from external sources.
For example, you want to learn to play the piano so that you can impress your friends or one day become a top pianist.
While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it’s fine to want those things, it shouldn’t be the only source of inspiration you draw upon.
Because these reasons are often fleeting, and while you are actually playing the piano, the thought of one day impressing your friends might not help you overcome the frustrations associated with it.
Whereas if you enjoy the process of playing the piano, you should in theory have a much easier time overcoming any obstacles you encounter as you can remind yourself at the moment to focus on the process.
How can you Accelerate the Learning Process?
As an adult, you might feel as if you have less time to dedicate to a new hobby like learning the piano, so you’ll probably want to speed up the learning process in any way you can.
With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to accelerate the learning process as an adult learner:
Swallow your Pride
Yes, that’s right, one of the best ways to catapult yourself to musical mastery is to swallow your pride.
While you might not at first see the use in this, it will soon become clear.
One of the biggest hindrances to further learning for adults is ego getting in the way of development.
What does that mean exactly?
Well, as we get older, our egos tend to wall up and become even more identified with certain positions.
We might well feel that the piano should be easy to learn because we were once able to play the keyboard, or that we’re quick learners so within a few weeks or months we’ll be able to play to a decent level.
Forget all of that.
If you go into a piano lesson with thoughts like this, then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration.
Children are fortunate in that in most cases they aren’t burdened with the same thoughts, so they have nothing to compare the process to.
But for us adults, when we feel like skill is harder to develop than we initially expected, this can prevent us from even wanting to try.
Hire a Tutor
The reality is, you aren’t going to get far without an online piano teacher.
Sure, you can teach yourself to play using online tutorials and resources, but there arrives a point in which this process is just too time-consuming and labour-intensive.
You don’t want to spend all of your free time tracking down the best resources in order to go it alone.
Most piano enthusiasts take lessons with a private piano tutor online, so you should probably do the same.
With Superprof, you can find qualified and experienced piano tutors in your local area, or take classes online from the comfort of your own home. You can enter ‘piano lessons near me’ followed by the word ‘Superprof’, ‘piano teacher near me’, or ‘piano teacher Bristol’ if you’re based there for example.
Play for Fun
One of the most important things to bear in mind when you pick up any new instrument as an adult is to have fun with it.
Regardless of your goals with the piano, if you aren’t having fun along the way then you aren’t very likely to stick with it long term.
As a result, we strongly recommend that you set aside time from practising what you learned with your tutor in order to play just for the sake of playing.
For a lot of people, playing an instrument is not only a fun way to pass the time, but it can also be a great activity for inducing a state of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is all the rage these days, and it’s clear to see why.
If you can tap into the present moment every time you sit down to play the piano, then you’re anchoring the activity to the act of being present.
This can be a real gamechanger if you’re used to running around the house all day or spending most of the time scrolling aimlessly or diving down YouTube rabbit holes.
A few hours or even just minutes spent each day fully present at the piano can do a world of good for your sense of wellbeing, and can help alleviate stress.
Listen to Learn
Our last piece of advice to adult piano learners is to listen and listen well.
What do we mean by that?
Well, one of the most important skills when picking up any new instrument is listening.
If you aren’t able to hear the instrument in the songs that you listen to, then you’ll have a hard time recognising what it is you should be aiming for when you play. You’ll be able to pick out piano chords, notes, scales and much more when you learn to listen.
There’s a lot of things to pay attention to beneath the surface, such as the rhythm of the song, the tempo, and more.
Once you get an ear for the piano track in various easy-to-play piano songs, then you’ll have a much easier time figuring out sheet music too.
At first glance, the musical notation can seem like a jumble of characters and symbols spread out over a series of horizontal lines. But once you start to develop an appreciation of what makes a good piano song, then you’ll be able to understand what you read on a deeper level.
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