The Best Way To Learn Piano As An Adult

Everyone that takes up piano playing as an adult has their own reasons. Some of us pick up piano playing as a way to challenge our brains. Others learn to play the piano for their love of music. Other still consider piano playing a great hobby with plenty of possibilities. Regardless of the reason you start playing piano, you will learn faster if you find a learning style that works with your goals and your schedule too.

I’m sure you’ve heard that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But I am here to tell you that learning a new skill as an adult is entirely possible! It might be difficult but it is very possible because our brain’s ability to stretch and learn new things. In fact, science recommends that one learns new skills over the course of their lives as it improves our cognitive function, capacity, and capability.

For me, I chose piano playing as the skill of choice to pick up. Not only because I wanted to have something in common with my daughter, but also because I’m I interested in music and piano playing specifically, I also love the idea of learning something new to challenge my brain.

I also liked the idea of improving my hand-eye coordination. Not that it was bad, but, as someone heading into his 50’s, there is always room for improvement. An added perk was the chance to bond with my daughter, who was also interested in playing piano and had started piano lessons.

The Various Ways You Can Learn To Play The Piano

Once I decided to learn piano as an adult, I researched my options. I wasn’t sure that I had time with a busy work schedule to attend a scheduled lesson each week. I found that an adult has a number of options to choose from.

These learning options include:

1. A Personal Piano Teacher

This is a good option if you have the money for it. For me, I found it to be a very helpful method of learning. This is because I could attend piano lessons with my daughter. I like being able to get instant feedback and correction if I’m not playing a song the right way.

Importantly, taking piano lessons removed the guesswork from the whole process. My daughter and I did not have to wing it. Everything we needed to know we were taught. And the fact that we could share a teacher with daughter enabled us to bond in a very special way.

But, the drawback is you have to be somewhere each week at a scheduled time. This is difficult for some adults who have a varied work schedule. Check with teachers in your area to see if they offer any flexible scheduling options.

2. Online Piano Lessons

Online lessons are a great alternative to in-person piano lessons. They offer flexible schedules and are generally available 24/7. There are online sites that make use of pianists and piano playing software. Some online sites cater specially to adult piano students. In a nutshell, you can find a website that will meet your needs.

The con to online piano lessons is that you will have to keep yourself motivated to practice at home. Many of these sites are automated and you won’t have the same accountability as you would if you meet a teacher in person each week. But, you’ll pay less than you will with a personal teacher.

man learning to play piano with his laptop computer
Learning piano through online lessons is a good option for busy adults.

3. Self-Learning Using Resources

For this particular method, you take control of learning everything about piano playing. This method of learning is best for people who have strong self-taught skills and are self-motivated. 

This method costs less and can be nearly free. You can learn using materials from the internet like YouTube videos and/or from self-teaching piano books. You can buy these new at places like Amazon and music shops or even used at flea markets and yard sales. Some libraries even have these available for loan.

The major problem with this method is what to do if you get stuck. Unless you know an experienced piano player, you may have trouble finding someone to answer your question. Another drawback is that you could develop bad playing habits and not realize it until it’s too late and hard to correct.

4. Attending Piano School

Group learning in a piano school is another way to learn piano. While these may be cheaper and more readily available for many people, they do not come with a personal touch. As such, this particular method of learning piano as an adult is best combined with a lot of practice at your own free time. Check with your local adult learning center or community college about this option.

My Best Way To Learn Piano As An Adult

Obviously, for me, personal piano lessons helped me a lot. The lessons made the process and the journey a lot easier. If you cannot get a personal piano teacher for one-on-one lessons, you can opt for online lessons. They are more affordable and flexible while still being readily available. However, I reckon that the best way to learn piano playing as an adult is to combine a variety of learning methods. While the personal piano teacher will help, you should take initiative to learn some more on your own. As such, have a personal teacher and use self-help resources such as books and apps. Thereafter, practice a lot.

woman sitting at piano for a lesson with her piano teacher
One-on-one piano lessons are the best option for adults who need accountability.

Top Tips To Learning Piano

No matter the route and the means you choose to learn piano, I found these tips very helpful in my quest to learn piano:

1. Practice A Lot

I quickly learned that even if I did not intend to participate in recitals or competitions, I still had to practice a lot to become good at it. There are no two ways about; you must practice a lot. To this end, I schedule some time every day to practice the piano.

When scheduling your practice time, keep in mind that practicing more frequently for shorter periods of time is far better than practicing for infrequently but for longer. So, you are better off practicing for 30 minutes every day than practicing for 4 hours on a weekend.

I also try to keep my practices fun to prevent boredom. I have a few songs that I love to play and I’ll play them in between my harder pieces to break up the monotony. (What songs are those? Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen and Believe by Josh Groban!)

2. Vary Your Technique When Practicing

While repetition is necessary to perfect your skills, I quickly learned the benefits of varying technique and song when practicing piano. Not only does this make the experience that more challenging, but it also makes it more varied and much more exciting.

3. Play Music You Love

Some people enjoy playing classical music while others do not find any beauty or take any interest in this genre of music. As such, it is important to find music that you love and enjoy to practice piano with.

If you love pop songs, try playing those songs. I’ve found playing music that I love helps my progress. Additionally, I found listening to a lot of the music I love to be very helpful. Listening to a lot of music will help you get familiar with harmonies and rhythms.

I often find myself listening to a song on the radio and realize it would be a good song to learn on the piano. So, I’ll get the sheet music and give it a try!

4. Do Not Be Afraid To Fail

Do not be afraid to fail. Failure is part of learning and an important element of progressing. If you do not fail, it shows you are not pushing your boundaries and you are stagnating.

5. Celebrate Accomplishments

Accomplishments can come in many ways. It may be small improvements or mastery of a difficult skill or song. No matter the accomplishment, celebrate it as it will push you going forward.

6. Have Fun And Enjoy Yourself

Make a point of enjoying the experience and the journey of learning piano. Enjoying what you are doing is probably the most important quality for your long-term persistence. Given that learning any new skill as an adult is a difficult task, enjoying yourself will make it easier for you to push on and learn new skills.

7. Start Now

My final tip for you is to start now. If you are truly intrigued about the ins and outs of playing the piano and you want to learn how to play piano, do not procrastinate. Start today.

woman learning piano while looking at a book
Self motivated individuals may learn better by using a self-study book.

The Challenges You Have To Overcome When Learning Piano As An Adult

Drawing from my experience, some of the challenges you will face while learning the piano as an adult include:

  • It tests your patience,
  • If you are busy, you will find some difficulties in scheduling practice times,
  • It can become an expensive endeavor.

Nonetheless, these are challenges that you can overcome or work around with ease. They should not deter from taking up piano playing.

What methods are you considering to learn piano as an adult? Do you have any other pros and cons I haven’t mentioned? Share in the comments below!

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