learning piano as an adult

8 Practical Tips for Learning Piano as an Adult

learning piano as an adult

You’re never too old to learn how to play the piano. Below, piano teacher Ryan C. shares eight practical tips for successfully learning piano as an adult…

Learning a new instrument is no easy feat, especially as an adult. I’m always amazed by how many people think that learning to play the piano is out of their reach simply because they aren’t kids anymore.

Well, frankly, I believe they are wrong in their beliefs! It’s my belief that everyone can learn to play the piano, regardless of their age.

Furthermore, I didn’t start playing until I was an adult, so I know first-hand that anyone of any-age can learn to play the piano!

You may be wondering, “Where do I even begin?” Well, let’s address that right now. Below are some practical tips for learning piano as an adult.

8 Practical Tips for Learning Piano as an Adult

1. Find a Piano Genre You Enjoy

Are you an avid jazz listener, classical enthusiast, or pop pianist?

Narrowing down what piano style you like best is a critical first step, as it will help you find a teacher who specializes in that style.

Not only that, but it will also keep you interested. If you’re learning music that you don’t even like, it’s hard to stay motivated.

If you’re not sure what piano style you like, check out this article “Ultimate Guide to the 5 Most Popular Piano Styles.

2. Find the Right Teacher

A great teacher will not only inspire you to become better than you ever thought you could be, but he or she will also expose you to new ways of learning, practicing, and refining your skills.

When choosing a piano teacher, don’t just pick the cheapest individual or one closest to you. Take time to evaluate the teacher’s credentials and ask questions.

For example, has he or she taught adults before? What teaching methods do they typically use? These types of questions will ensure that you’re choosing the right teacher.

3. Choose Between a Piano and Keyboard

Determine whether you want to invest in an acoustic piano or a keyboard, as both have their benefits and drawbacks.

For example, an acoustic piano is typically much more expensive than a keyboard, but can be financed with no interest under rent-to-own programs offered at most piano dealers.

In addition, acoustic pianos are very loud, so they aren’t appreciated very much in apartments. Digital keyboards, while less expensive, lack the ‘feel’ of a real piano.

In other words, the keys don’t feel as heavy or as responsive as a real piano, though many keyboard manufacturers claim that they do.

Keyboards, however, do have several benefits such as the ability to use headphones, play with multiple backtracks, change your instrumentation, and so on.

I think that either option works. Though based on the nature of my work, I personal prefer an acoustic piano to a keyboard.

4. Become Familiar with the Musical Alphabet

Learning to read music is very important when learning piano as an adult. If you don’t already know how to read music, there’s no better time than now.

There’s a great app I use with all of my students, called Tenuto, that lets you customize your note reading to make it as easy or hard as you like.

Begin with a few notes on each clef and gradually work your way to reading (and memorizing) more and more notes.

5. Join Ensembles of Any Kind

Ensemble playing is fantastically beneficial in developing your musical ear as a pianist (or any other type of musician for that matter). However, pianists can sometimes struggle to find suitable ensembles.

I recommend checking your local community college to see if they have a non-audition orchestra that you could sit in on or play keyboard-percussion.

I also suggest looking at local studios to see if they have piano bands or groups of keyboardists playing together simultaneously in a band-type setting. Chamber music is also wildly fun for you classical music enthusiasts!

6. Be Patient and Confident

It can be hard to not criticize yourself when you’re learning something new. I find this to be very true when it comes to learning piano as an adult.

Additionally, you may feel that you aren’t necessarily able to do something as quickly as you might have thought.

Speaking from experience, learning to play any instrument, especially the piano, is very time consuming. If you’re aware of this, you’ll likely be less self-loathing throughout the learning process.

Make sure that you mentally acknowledge your accomplishments–however small you may think they are–so you don’t become frustrated throughout the process of learning.

Remember, learning piano as an adult is a process.

7. Establish a Practice Routine and Stick to It

Learning to play an instrument is like being on a diet. You have to carefully watch your progress, keep track of what you’re practicing (and when), and maintain your practice discipline daily.

I highly recommend keeping a practice log where you write down what you’ve worked on, for how long, and on what day. Many people are under the false impression that you can cram piano practice.

When in reality, all you need to succeed at learning to play at a non-professional level is 30 minutes to an hour of focused, effective practicing a day.

Practicing in this manner yields results much faster than trying to do 3 hours a day for only one day a week. Check out the sample practice log below.

Date 5/3/2016
Scales C & D Major – 2 hands, two octaves. Practiced for 10 minutes.
Sight-Reading Examples #1-2 in Book 1.

Practiced 10 Minutes

Piece #1 Measures 34-52

Hands Separate for 5 minute blocks, hands together for 15 min.

Practiced 30 Minutes.

Piece #2 Measures 12-40

Hands Together – Making rhythms less choppy.

Practiced for 30 Minutes

8. Learn Melodies by Ear

Playing by ear may not necessarily be super important in a classical setting, but it is absolutely necessary in the jazz world.

If you can “hear” what you want to do in your head before you play it, you’re well on your way to being an impressive soloist.

Practice some of your favorite songs by ear and try to figure out the melody to the best of your ability. If that’s easy for you, try figuring out the accompaniment too!

Learning piano as an adult can be intimidating. Don’t let your fear, however, deter you from learning a fun new hobby. Follow the tips above and you’ll be on your way to success!

Post Author: Ryan C.
Ryan C. teaches piano, ear training, and music theory. He is a graduate of San Diego State University with a B.M. in piano performance. Learn more about Ryan here!

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