This post is one of the most viewed ever on this blog, indicating the urgency and importance of this question for many. It’s a difficult one to answer and it’s one that most prospective students ask.
Here are 5 key points to remember:
1. How much time do you have to dedicate to studying the piano? A child who is just starting to learn may only be able to concentrate for 10 minutes per day, especially if they are only 5 or 6 years old. Therefore progress may take time for youngsters; it can take a couple of years for them to grasp the basics. An adult on the other hand, will understand more swiftly and will be able to focus for at least 30 or 40 minutes a day. That is if they have the time; adults usually have many other commitments.
2. Children are more flexible physically than adults and, if they have an aptitude for playing, they can make progress very quickly. They may find it possible to achieve a competent standard in a couple of years. Adults are, generally, not so flexible and often suffering from physical, as well as mental, tension and this could potentially impede their development and progress.
3. Anyone can make significant progress with their playing if they have an inspiring teacher. This is probably the most important point; it is vital to find a good teacher who will keep you sufficiently motivated to return for lessons week after week. Weekly lessons are the most beneficial, but many students choose to have fortnightly lessons.
4. It’s important to set aside time for regular practice sessions; this will allow you to focus completely on this new and exciting but challenging task. However, with regular practice you will definitely progress more swiftly. Remember learning music is like learning a new language, therefore, be kind to yourself and be patient. Adults can be very impatient!
5. Develop a passion for playing and you will make progress. This is true for any activity; if you love it, you will focus on it and then it may become an obsession. It’s at this point that a student’s playing really starts taking off.
Everyone is capable of playing the piano to some extent. Whilst it’s true that some students posses more aptitude than others, you won’t know how much talent you possess until you apply yourself. In my experience, it normally takes 2 to 3 years to play to a competent level, or similar to grades 2/3 of the ABRSM exam system. Crucially, however long it takes to accomplish basic skills, hopefully you will enjoy the musical journey, which will inspire continuation.
Melanie Spanswick has written and published a wide range of courses, anthologies, examination syllabuses, and text books, including Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). This best-selling graded, progressive piano course contains a large selection of repertoire featuring a huge array of styles and genres, with copious practice tips and suggestions for every piece.
For more information, please visit the publications page, here.