As an adult you’re much more knowledgeable about your own moods, so it becomes considerably more possible to use music as a way to express yourself. If you have a little piece you can play, you can listen to yourself get better, and therefore you can express yourself better. This is entirely a function of being older, and this should be a joy. Unfortunately, many adults regret not continuing to learn piano as a child. We often hear comments like “I regret not sticking with it” or “I just don’t think I will be able to learn how to play now”. We can assure you, however, anytime is a good time to learn piano – no matter the age!
People always think of Mozart as this child prodigy. Yes, he was an amazing pianist by the time he was 7, but he practiced 8 hours a day from the time he was 3! Most people practice an hour a day (arguably not even that). So it seems Mozart practiced 8 times the average amount. Meaning after a year of practicing, he had the equivalent of 8 years of practice! So by the time he was 7, he’d already had the equivalent of 32 years of practice! Of course he was going to be amazing!
Now, if you aspire to a career as a superstar pianist, you need to start early. If you want to play the piano because you want to play songs you’ve always loved, you can of course start anytime. There’s no rush, competition to win, or expectations to meet. It’s solely you and your piano. This is the category most people fall into. Allow us to help you pick up where you last left off all those years ago. Remember, you now live in the era where it’s possible to learn from an online piano app. 😉
Is there any advantage to learning the piano as an adult?
As we said earlier, at the end of the day, most kids learn faster because they simply spend more time practicing, it has nothing to do with dendrites, nerve endings, or brain structure. As we have previously noted, learning piano increases a person’s IQ by seven points, along with improving dexterity, creativity, attention span, organizational skills, problem solving skills, reduces anxiety and makes you more sociable, along with many other benefits! If adults make enough time in their life to practice consistently, they would learn just as fast as the kids. In fact, adults may learn piano even learn faster. Here are some things to keep in mind according to Zach Evans from Best Piano Tips:
Listen to this enlightening video about learning piano as an adult by pianist Zach Evans.
- The average adult learner isn’t that excited about learning. A lot of times it’s more of a “well, I think it would be nice to learn how to play an instrument” instead of “I can’t wait to learn piano!” It’s almost an afterthought, or a hobby, rather than something they wake up thinking about. But if an adult is really passionate about learning piano, they’ll be able to learn pieces faster. They’ll put the time and effort in, and they’ll do it for themselves. But only if they’re truly passionate.
- Every adult at some point in their life has had to memorize a long list of things in school. If you had 50 flashcards to memorize, you probably started out going through all 50 flashcards over and over. It took you forever to learn all the flashcards. Eventually though, you learned that if you took 5 at a time and memorized those 5 before you went on to the next 5, you could speed up the learning process and memorize the entire stack in half the time! This concept translates to piano. It’s much faster to learn a piece by breaking it up into small chunks than by playing through the entire piece over and over. Adults will instinctively know that. Kids, on the other hand, are still developing that skill.
- Adults have learning tools they have developed over their 12 plus years of school, mentors, and personal experience. Adults have the mental capacity to break down exactly what needs to be learned so they can focus on the most important things. And there are a ton of other skills like goal setting, using your resources, and time management that can help adults learn faster.
- Adults have the advantage of disposable income which can be put towards maximizing their learning. For example, reducing the amount of industrial food and eating green vegetables improves memory. We all know there aren’t too many kids who like the latter. 😛
Take a deeper look into the differences between adults and children piano students from this video series by Learn Piano Live.
“As an adult you’re much more knowledgeable about your own moods, so it becomes much more possible to use music as a way to express yourself,” says British actor and director Samuel West, who bought himself a “proper” piano and started practising daily for the first time in 30 years. “If I have a little piece I can play, I can listen to myself better, I can express myself better. That’s entirely a function of being older, and that’s a joy. The fascinating thing is how much my hands remembered,” he says. “When you’re small you learn faster, your hands are more adept, it’s just much, much easier; as an adult, the fear that getting back to any kind of match fitness will take forever is a bit depressing. But it’s worth it: I got myself a piece I’d wanted to learn and I taught it to myself and that was really satisfying. Even if my fingering was rubbish.” See there’s nothing to fear at all.
So, what should an adult returning to learn piano, be aware of in order to do things right this time around? If you want to know how to learn piano as an adult, here are some helpful pointers from Jessica Peresta of The Domestic Musician to get you started:
1. Just do it ✔
We all know Nike‘s famous slogan “Just Do It”. Part of the reason you don’t know how to learn piano as an adult is because you are afraid. You are afraid of messing up or not being able to. There may be frustration along the way and it may not come easy to you, but just do it. Take the first step and be confident in your ability to learn.
2. Decide how you want to learn
When you take lessons as a child, you will begin with method books. These books contain music theory, songs, and technique. As an adult, you can choose what exactly you want to learn. You decide if you are wanting to learn piano chords, how to read music, how to play a certain genre of music, if you want to play by ear, or if you want to learn your favorite songs. Then, when you start lessons or take an online piano course, you will know exactly what you want to learn.
3. Find a teacher or online piano lessons
There are many great piano teachers who not only teach young students, but also teach adults. Keep in mind piano teachers today are also more open to teach popular songs than in the past. The great thing about learning piano as an adult is you can move at a faster pace. Concepts and skills are covered in a faster time frame and with practice on your part, you are able to move pretty quickly through the lessons. Ask fellow adults who are taking music lessons to find a great piano teacher. Or you can always learn on your own time and at your own pace by taking online lessons.
Allysia from PianoTV offers her advice on the most common problems and solutions for Adult piano students.
4. Get a piano or a keyboard
This is a pretty obvious pointer, but deciding if you want a piano or keyboard is definitely an important step. Can’t decide? Perhaps this little piece might help. Better yet, get yourself a head start and start playing our virtual piano, right away.
5. Learn what you LOVE!
It is a widely accepted axiom that, “The older you get, the faster time seems to go.” Likewise there is the parallel aphorism that, “Time flies when you are having fun.” The reason? Our brain encodes new experiences, but not familiar ones, into memory, and our retrospective judgment of time is based on how many new memories we create over a certain period. In other words, the more new memories we build on a weekend getaway, the longer that trip will seem in hindsight. Therefore, learning something you love when you’re older can only enhance your use of time and enjoyment.
6. Be patient
Learning anything new is frustrating. Most of us want would like to learn something new and to do it well. When learning piano, you are having to think of many things at the same time. It will take time to learn the notes, how to read music, rhythms, technique, and everything else. Cut yourself some slack and be patient. Take your time and don’t give up, because if you are motivated to learn, it will surely come. Besides, there are many students who start learning the piano young and hate it. Maybe you were one of these kids. Maybe you were forced to take lessons, and just had no desire to learn. So, now that you have the desire to learn as an adult, this will help you be successful.
7. Practice makes perfect
You’ve heard the phrase “practice makes perfect.” But, practice makes sort of perfect. What we mean is, to grasp a new skill, you need to practice. You will not be perfect at the piano, or anything else you learn, because you always have room to grow and learn more. Set aside time each day, whether it’s in the morning before everyone else in your house wakes up, on your lunch break or after the kids are in bed for some good quality practice time. If you don’t know how to practice, start with saying the note names out loud. Then, practice your scales and other warm ups. Afterwards, start learning a song your teacher assigned you or one you chose, remembering to take it really slowly. Each time you sit down, you will notice learning the piano comes a little bit easier to you and it isn’t as frustrating. You will get the hang of how to have a good practice session and will feel more confident in your ability.
Allysia from PianoTV offers even more useful advice for Adult piano students. Some great tips here!
Conclusion: Just play it!
The piano is primarily a great communal object – a “great bringer together of people” if you will – even if you can only play the simplest thing. It’s a great pity that more people don’t get back to it as adults for the simple fear of not being good enough. They’d never think that about sport for example: people pick up a tennis racket or kick a football around even though they know they’re no Roger Federer or Cristiano Ronaldo. Perhaps it’s time to start a campaign instead of “Just Do It”, how about “Just Play It”.
Do you want to learn piano as an adult or have you already begun learning piano? Is it coming along easily, or are you having a hard time learning how to play? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
- Best Piano Tips – Do Kids REALLY Learn Piano Faster Than Adults?
- BBC – Adult piano lessons: Never too late to learn
- The Domestic Musician – How to Learn Piano as an Adult
- Biography – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- YouTube – Become a Piano Superhuman: The 3 Keys to Learning Piano as an Adult
- YouTube – LearnPianoLive: Adults’ Piano Lesson: The Brain of An Adult Piano Student
- Health.com – 9 Foods That May Help Save Your Memory
- Wikipedia – Samuel West
- YouTube – pianoTV: Adult Beginners at the Piano: 12 Problems and Solutions, Part 1
- Scientific American – Why Does Time Seem to Speed Up with Age?
- YouTube – pianoTV: Adult Beginners At the Piano: 12 Problems and Solutions, Part 2
- Roger Federer
- Cristiano Ronaldo