How long will it take to learn the piano? 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 very difficult question to answer and it’s the one question that most prospective students always 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. So 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 distractions.
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 not so flexible (generally), 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 (many students choose to go fortnightly).
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 quickly. Remember learning music is like learning a new language. So be kind to yourself and be patient! Adults especially can be very impatient.
5. You will progress quickly if you develop a passion for playing. 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. It’s true that some students are much quicker mentally than others, but 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 (approximately 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.
For much more information about practising repertoire, take a look at my two-book piano course, Play it again: PIANO (Schott). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, 49 progressive pieces from approximately Grade 1 – 8 are featured, with at least two pages of practice tips for every piece.
If you’re thinking about learning to play the piano, my guide-book, So You Want To Play The Piano? (Alfred) is full of useful help and support.
The Faber Music Piano Anthology (Faber) is also a valuable resource for those who desire a collection of standard repertoire from Grades 2 – 8, featuring 78 pieces in total.
I have written a selection of educational piano music (both solo and duet) and you can hear it and find out much more here: EVC Music Publications.