Tips for Adult Piano Students

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Introduction

Sure, starting to learn piano as a child may have its benefits, but not all of us had parents who made us take piano lessons as kids! Or, perhaps some of us started with another instrument but have always secretly wanted to play the piano, and now we’ve finally found time to do it! Whatever your situation was – good on you for finally making the decision to learn piano! Piano is an amazing instrument (I am not biased, I swear!) that can bring immeasurable joy and pleasure to your life and learning it is worth it no matter what age you are.

In this guide, I aim to dispel the common myth surrounding adult piano learners and arm you with advice and resources that, if used, will make your piano learning faster, funner, and more effective! Above all –
I wish you luck and success with your piano studies!

Myth: I am too old to start learning piano

myth about learning piano as an adult
This is the most common (and unproductive) argument that many adults use to justify not starting to learn the piano. If you have found yourself with this thought, ask yourself: why do I want to learn the piano? Is it to become a concert pianist? Well, in that case yes, it might be a bit late for that. Or, as is the case with most people, maybe you want to learn mainly for yourself and perhaps to be able to entertain family members and friends? In that case, age is absolutely not a factor. Just as not everyone who plays soccer becomes a professional soccer player, so not everyone who plays the piano becomes a professional pianist. Do it for yourself!

Advantages to learning piano as an adult

When it comes to learning the piano (or any other instrument), adults in fact have several advantages that children don’t. Here are some of the most important ones:

1. You are learning because you want to, not because you are being made to

desireMost children take lessons because their parents make them, not because they decided to themselves. With adults the situation is reversed. This is an important distinction as it means you are going to be motivated to learn, which increases your chances of success.

2. You are more focused and disciplined (hopefully)

focus graphicYour experience and maturity have given you time to develop these two qualities, which most children do not have yet. Combined with the fact that you are learning of your own free will, this is another powerful advantage that is on your side. 

3. You are capable of understanding complex and abstract concepts

understandThis means you will be much better at understanding musical concepts and directions that your teacher will be throwing at you. Music teachers (myself included) appreciate adults learners because they simply don’t require as much explanation as children do.

My top 5 tips for adult piano students

These tidbits of advice is what I like to share with my own adult students in order to keep them positive, motivated, and focused on their goal. They are all a result of my own experience teaching piano to adults.

1. Get into the habit of regular practice

regular practice clockHere is a shocking fact: the most successful students are those who make practicing a routine. If you are serious about learning the piano, you can find at least 20 minutes a day (or every other day if you are super busy) to practice. Remember: shorter practice sessions 4 or 5 times a week yield much better results than longer practice sessions once or twice a week.

Find more useful practice tips with our article titled “5 Best Practice Tips for Music Students”

2. Don't feel discouraged if you sound "childish" at the piano

You may be/have been an expert at your job, but at the piano you are complete beginner.  Do not let this fact discourage you in any way from learning. Know that it takes time to get to the level where you can play the pieces you have always wanted to play and be ready to stick it out to the end.  

3. Don't feel you have to learn everything as quickly as possible

overwhelmed womanSure, you are an adult and you might feel pressure to learn as fast as you can. But this kind of attitude is often unproductive, as it can lead to feelings of anxiety and also to burnout. If this sounds like you, remember the answer to the good old question about how to eat an elephant:  “one bite at a time”.

4. Don't compare yourself to other piano players

This is an axiom that applies to many aspects of life, but in learning an instrument it’s especially relevant. It is easy to feel discouraged or inferior after watching a YouTube video of a concert pianist or a child prodigy. But don’t let this daunt you in any way. You should only compare yourself today to yourself yesterday and be proud of your musical achievements, no matter how small they may seem.

5. Don't hesitate to tell your teacher what you want to learn

piano lessonAs an adult with a formed personality, interests, and tastes, don’t hesitate to be direct with your teacher about the kind of music that interests you and that you want to learn to play. Playing material that you feel passionate about is a great motivator and will also give you and your teacher a clear goal to work towards.

Recommended books for adult piano students

While there is nothing wrong with starting your piano journey with books designed for children, there are also many good piano books designed specifically for adult learners such as yourself. Here is one that I have used by some of my adult students and have found to be quite good.
alfred piano book series

Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course Series

This series takes the “chord” approach to teaching beginners and has plenty of pieces for students to play, arranged progressively according to level of difficulty. There are a total of three books in this series, each building on the previous one. For best results, it is recommended that students work through these books with an experienced teacher.

Take a look at our own online shop for other piano book options.