I've been playing the piano for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I was always surrounded by music and musicians, so it was only natural that I would gravitate towards playing an instrument. However, when I reached adulthood, I put down the piano for a long time—twelve years to be exact! During that time away from music making, I often wondered if it would ever be possible for me to return to the instrument once again or if my window of opportunity had closed forever. Now that I'm back at the keyboard after all these years (and have been practicing nonstop!), here are my tips for any adult who wants to learn how to play:
Whether you want to learn piano for fun or as a profession, it is possible for adults to do so. With enough time and dedication, anyone can become a proficient pianist. Though there are certain challenges that come with age and learning an instrument, they can be overcome with the right approach.
A common misconception about adult learners is that they have “bad” ears and are incapable of hearing music at the same level as children or young adults (who have been listening since birth). When comparing the brains of younger vs older people, it does appear that their brains are not quite as plastic in later life as in earlier life—meaning that neural changes may be harder to achieve—but this does not mean that adults cannot learn how to play an instrument well at all! In fact, many successful musicians have learned their craft later in life.
If you don't like the music, how are you going to practice? If it's too difficult and technical, it will be hard to get into the habit of playing regularly. Look for something that is challenging but still enjoyable. You may want to listen to a lot of different styles so that you can figure out which ones resonate with your ears most strongly. Some people love classical music, some love pop; some people prefer easy-listening jazz or blues; others prefer rock 'n roll or classical piano rags like Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag (which has always been one of my favorites).
If you’re an adult, there are some advantages to your age. You have more maturity and focus than a child. You can dedicate more time and attention to learning piano without distraction, because your schedule is not as busy with school work or extracurricular activities. Adults have more motivation than children; they know they need to learn a new skill in order to achieve their goals. They also understand how their brains work, which means they know that repetition helps them learn faster and retain information better. If you’re an adult with similar interests as a child (i.e., sports), then chances are good that you can make learning the piano into something fun! And if all else fails, adults usually have enough brain power left over after working all day long at their jobs just so they can do something for themselves - even if it's just reading about music theory for half an hour before going home at night after spending eight hours at work doing something else entirely different from what playing piano means for someone who loves music as much as anyone else does but just doesn't know where exactly where "home" would be yet...
Setting specific and achievable goals is important because it helps you to focus on the most important things. Don't worry about what other people's goals are, just make sure they're realistic for you. Be ambitious, but stay realistic.
For example, if your goal is to learn how to play a song that has 8 notes per bar (such as Fur Elise), then you'll probably have an easier time than if your goal was "to play Fur Elise."
There are a lot of resources available to adult learners, but it's important that you start with the basics.
You may be thinking, "So I'm supposed to stop comparing myself to other people? But how will I know that my progress is good enough?"
It's a fair question, and one that can easily trip you up if you're not careful. It's easy to get discouraged when comparing yourself to the skills of others; even if you are making excellent progress, someone who has been playing for decades will always look better than you do. The key is in self-compassion: don't compare yourself against others (or children). Instead, compare your current skill level with what it was when you started out—you'll see that there's been progress!
So you’ve done your research and found the perfect piano teacher. Now what?
If you're an adult who wants to learn how to play the piano, it's not impossible. It will take some work, but if you have the drive and determination then anything is possible! We hope these tips have helped you feel more confident about your journey towards mastering this instrument.