Learning Piano as an Adult

Written by: Leslie Carmichael

It’s never too late to learn how to play the piano. I’ve taught students as young as four and as old as 84. And while younger learners may have the benefit of better neuroplasticity to help them learn, older learners have a lot of advantages, too! 

Not only are there advantages to being an adult learner, but there are also advantages for the adult learner that go beyond just being able to play music. In this article, we’ll talk about some of those benefits as well as some different methods you might want to use to learn how to play piano as an adult. But first, let’s look at some of the advantages of starting piano lessons as an adult. 


Advantages of Being an Adult Piano Student

Somewhere along the line, we metamorphose from kids who embrace learning new things to being tentative learners as adults. Maybe we’re afraid of failure, fearful of looking bad, or just nervous about trying something new. 

Many of my adult piano students have come to me, hands trembling on the keys with a mixture of excitement, anxiety, and trepidation. But we don’t have to be afraid! As Helen Hayes said, “The expert at anything was once a beginner.” And we all pretty much start music knowing little to nothing at all. 

If you’re an adult starting piano lessons, you have a lot of advantages that children don’t. 

  1. Choices. Adults can make a lot of choices that children just aren’t ready for, like the type of music they want to learn, the kind of teacher they want to learn from, and where and when to practice. You can choose to take lessons for the rest of your life or to quit after two weeks – it’s all up to you. 
  2. Experience. As an adult, you’ve already done a lot of learning! You have experience trying new things, and this is just another unique experience to enjoy. And you already have a lot of skills that young students are still perfecting, like reading, writing, and math, which help you learn music better.
  3. Time Management. If you’re an adult, you already know how to manage your time. You have the skills to figure out when is the best time to take your lessons and when you practice the best. You get to choose how little or how much time you put into your lessons. 
  4. You know what you like. Ask any 11-year-old what kind of music they like best, and they’ll either say they don’t know or they’ll have to ask their friends first! But you, as an adult, already know what you like and don’t like, and this can help you enjoy your lessons even more. Your teacher can help you find lesson materials based on the music you love. 
  5. You’re invested. As an adult student, you’re probably the one paying for your own lessons. This is an investment that most children don’t get to make. Since your putting your own money into it, you’ll naturally feel more invested in the outcome. 

Reasons to Take Piano Lessons as an Adult

There are all kinds of reasons to take piano lessons as an adult. Piano lessons can: 

  • Promote relaxation 
  • Reduce stress and anxiety 
  • Prevent cognitive loss
  • Improve social connections
  • Improve hand-eye coordination and hand strength
  • Increase creativity and self-discipline 
  • Increase self-esteem 
  • Give you a creative and expressive outlet 
  • Help you make music

Have you ever heard of the term "Piano Hands"? Learn all about it here: What Are Piano Hands? And Pianist Fingers?

Methods for Learning Piano as an Adult 

  1. Traditional piano lessons with a private teacher. One of the best ways to learn piano is in the form of conventional, one on one lessons with a private teacher. These are usually 30 to 60 minutes sessions once per week. Although there is some cost involved, you’ll get personalized attention from a teacher who can help you use your strengths and overcome your weaknesses. 
  2. Group classes. Music studios and colleges often offer group keyboard lessons for adults. You’ll sit in a class with other students, each at their own keyboard with headphones. The teacher can instruct the group as a whole and listen in to each student privately. 
  3. Piano Apps. With the advent of smartphones and iPads, many piano teaching apps have come about. Some of these apps are free with the purchase of a digital piano, while others require a subscription fee. Some of the top apps are Skoove, SimplyPiano, and Yousician. 
  4. YouTube. Did you know you can learn piano on YouTube? Pianote is a piano lesson channel where you can learn from real piano teachers. 

Tips for the Adult Piano Learner 

  1. Choose an instrument that you enjoy playing. Perhaps you prefer a digital piano to a keyboard (digital pianos are grand for learning), or maybe you have always wanted an acoustic piano for your home. Choose whichever one gets you excited to play.
  2. Find a teacher or app that matches your learning style and personality. For example, if you’re very social, you might love going to a group class. But if you’re more reserved or shy, maybe you would rather learn with a private teacher or even an app. Ask around your area to find a teacher that really meets your needs and makes you feel comfortable. 
  3. Set aside time to practice and time to play for fun. Nobody really loves to practice, but you’ll need to learn some good practice habits to learn to play. But don’t neglect the fun stuff! Instead, find a way to balance playing for fun and working on your assignments. 
  4. Embrace being a beginner. It can be hard to start something brand new, but we all start somewhere! Embrace the idea that you don’t have to be good at it – you just have to get started. The more you learn, the better you’ll get, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes. 
  5. Don’t give up! Some days piano lessons might feel extra hard or confusing, but don’t give up. Make a note of what was difficult and ask your teacher to explain it – they will! Slow down, practice more slowly, or take a break and do something else.

Final Thoughts on Learning Piano as an Adult

Remember, we all start at the beginning – no one is born knowing how to play piano (even if it seems that way!). As an adult piano student, you have some particular advantages: 

  • You can make your own choices 
  • You have lots of life experience
  • You already have time management skills 
  • You know what kind of music you like
  • You’re invested and investing in yourself

As an adult learner, you have so many ways that you can learn, either through apps, videos, classes, or one on one with a piano teacher. And there are so many benefits of starting piano lessons, no matter what age you are, including lowering stress levels, increasing strength, preventing cognitive decline, and of course, fostering your own love of music. 

Written By:
If anyone knows a thing or two about pianos, it's Leslie. Having played piano for the past 25 years and teaching for the past 15 years, she has vast experience compared to most. She loves to share her honest opinions about the brands and manufacturers in the industry. In her free time, Leslie loves to play with her dogs and go on hikes.

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