How Should An Adult Beginner Learn Piano?
The 5 Essential Considerations for Adult Beginners.
How should an adult beginner start learning piano?
As an adult, you’ve developed musical preferences and your personality is formed. Learning piano will be a valuable addition to who you are and your maturity will be to your advantage.
There are many reasons an adult might want to start learning piano. Here are some reasons my adult students have given me:
“I’m getting on in years and I want my mind to be sharp until the end. I’ve heard learning music is excellent for your brain.”
“I’ve always wanted to play the piano, and now I finally have the opportunity.”
“I’ve heard that learning the piano can be therapeutic. I have a high stress day job and I would like to learn piano as a way of unwinding and relaxing.”
“I love listening to piano music and want to learn how to play it myself.”
“I’m a singer and I’d like to learn piano chords so that I can accompany myself.”
“My kids are learning the piano and I’d like to learn with them.”
What is your reason?
The beauty of taking on a new skill as an adult is your no longer subjected to the pressures of a child, learning at the behest of your parents. You’re a free agent, learning for the love of it.
But how does an adult beginner start learning piano?
1. Finding a Teacher.
Firstly, a good player is not always a good teacher. Teaching is a very particular skill set. While a concert pianist can play well, the ability to take that knowledge and convert it into a communicable concept is not that easy. I’ve seen music professors with qualifications lists the length of their arm fail to meet a student where they’re at.
Some piano players are so advanced they might assume more prior knowledge. And if you have zero music experience, this can be frustrating. In your search for a teacher make sure you look for both piano skills and teaching ability. For the adult beginner starting to learn piano, someone who can teach the very basics without being condescending is very important. You might have zero music experience, but you’re not an idiot.
You don’t need a Formula 1 racer to teach you how to drive. You need someone who knows how to teach. And likewise, you need an excellent piano teacher.
As you progress you’ll find a variety of teachers and contributors to your piano playing adventure. Don’t restrict yourself to who you can find living in your town. The best teacher for you might be on the other side of the world. Search the web for fantastic teachers offering online course opportunities.
2. Avoid the Temptation to Teach Yourself.
Google reveals two teaching options:
1. Finding a local teacher and book some lessons.
2. Learning online.
But you might be tempted to consider the missing 3rd option:
3. Teaching yourself.
The first problem with teaching yourself, is something any expert will tell you. Technique.
Technique is all about how you do it. And there’s no way to know correct technique without training. Good piano technique has been refined over centuries, so an experienced teacher is invaluable.
Without it, you won’t be able to become the dynamic piano player you envisage. Bad habits creep in and they’re hard to break. You don’t want bad form to undo all your practise. As an adult beginner starting to learn piano it takes longer to absorb new skills than a child, so you want to get it right the first time.
But with so much available on YouTube and other free resources, who could be blamed for choosing this easy option? Watch a few videos and just copy it right? It hardly makes sense to pay up to $70 an hour for a local teacher with so much at your fingertips.
While YouTube is an excellent source of inspiration, at best you might learn to replicate a few simple tunes. But you’ll miss out on vital skills that will enable you to play whatever you want not just what you can copy.
As an adult beginner, you value your time. Not wanting to bow down to another’s schedule is probably what has brought you to this page. You want to access the lessons when you want, to practise in your own time and at your own pace. But you don’t want just any hack on YouTube teaching you incorrectly.
When you’re researching the best online resource for learning piano, make sure the course includes more than just lessons. Is there any personalised support? Can you upload your practise session and get professional feedback? Are the recorded lessons clear and easy to follow?
Your financial and time investment is more important than ever, so find the highest quality piano course for your budget.
3. Start at the Beginning. Patience!
As adults, it can be a bit of a shock to find ourselves back at the beginning again, learning the ABCs. It’s very tempting to skip ahead. But don’t rush it!
Foundations in music are SO important. If you don’t have a base, what are you going to build on? It might feel slow in the beginning, but one day you’ll reach a tipping point. You’ll find you can start tackling new musical scores and expanding your repertoire. Eventually you’re tearing up dinner parties with a series of popular pieces.
So be patient and take joy in the process. What learning piano will do for you is far beyond just playing songs.
• Playing music decreases stress and improves focus.
• You’ll experience a sense of accomplishment at every stage.
• Your arms will increase in strength and your fingers in dexterity.
• You will become a faster typist and increase your productivity.
• You’ll take more pleasure in listening to music and diversify your tastes.
• You’ll build a community of piano players and music lovers.
The list goes on! Stick with it in the beginning and be realistic with yourself about your progress. The great thing about learning music is that no time is wasted. Every minute you put in makes you a little bit better.
4. Keeping up Momentum.
How do you stay committed long term? When you have zero music experience to start with, it can feel like a big mountain to climb.
The trick is to set small goals along the way. And with learning piano this is actually very easy to do. As a beginner, the foundations of music are quite scientific. It makes it very easy to break it down into small achievable goals.
Perhaps you want to learn 2 chords a week? Not only is that perfectly doable, it’s something you can tick off in just 7 days! How’s that for keeping you motivated?
Just remind yourself of your progress every week and continue to set new goals. Music is one of the greatest things to learn as it’s rewarding right from the start.
Practice is really the key element to developing musical skill.
And practice you must! As often as you can until you can play it in your sleep. Every musician who ever wowed an audience has practiced their skill and you will have to do the same. It’s all in the brain wiring.
When you do something over and over the brain learns the neural pathway and starts to make things more efficient. That B flat chord might have been tough the first ten times, but your brain will learn to recognise it. You won’t always have to think so hard because your brain will shorten the pathway.
Ever wonder how that pianist in the bar can play so fast? His brain knows every bar of music so well he doesn’t even have to think about it. He just plays.
Develop a disciplined attitude towards practice and it’ll reward you. It doesn’t happen overnight, and you’ll always have to practice to stay sharp, but it’s possible to achieve this dream.
…that talent is just passion and practice combined.
If you don’t practice, then raw talent will make no difference. Never be discouraged by believing you’re not moving fast enough or someone else is doing better than you.
Everyone has their own pace. Even the most ‘talented’ player will lose their skills if they stop playing.
But you can’t fail if you just stick with it. Get out there and watch great piano players. Stay connected with your online teacher and community. Seek out professional feedback whenever you can and don’t be afraid to grow.
Good luck on your new musical path!
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