Is learning to play the piano worth it? And, if so, how long does it take to learn piano?
This is a question that many people wonder.
Countless pianists will tell you that learning this instrument was one of the best decisions of their life.
The learning process can seem daunting, and you may have questions about it.
This article will cover everything you need to know about starting your piano journey, including:
Different Levels of Playing the Piano
If you've thought about learning the piano, there's probably a reason. Whether it's a passion for music, inspiration from other piano players, desire to learn a new skill, or even just because playing the piano sounds cool.
Playing For Personal Enjoyment
This is the first level of playing the piano. Many people want to get to where they can play their favorite songs. That's a perfectly viable reason to start. Lots of studies show that playing instruments like the piano can significantly reduce anxiety and improve your mood. Most pianists agree that sitting down to play after a long day is one of the most soothing things.
At this level, you don't necessarily need to take piano lessons. Technically, nobody needs to take lessons. They're for people who want to improve consistently and reach a high level. For people who just want to play for fun, getting to a very high level may not be needed. It's possible to learn your favorite songs without being an expert. Reaching this level could take as little as a few months.
Reading Sheet Music
The second level of playing the piano is reading sheet music. Though the previous level doesn't always need a teacher, this one might. If music were a language, which it is, sheet music is the books. When you reach this level, you've opened up a whole new world of songs to play. You no longer have to rely on YouTube tutorials to learn songs.
It's possible to learn sheet music on your own, but it can be very challenging. Lots of times, getting a piano teacher is the most effective way to reach this level. They make the process easier by assigning simple sheet music to learn each week.
Music Theory and Playing By Ear
We're getting more advanced now. A desire to reach this level means you want to be an excellent pianist. Making it this far is completely possible and highly rewarding.
Imagine being able to play a song just from listening to it. Well, that's what happens at this level. To get there, you have two options:
When mastering any craft, it's common for people to enjoy it more as they improve. Learning the piano is no exception. If you get to this level, you'll find even more satisfaction playing the instrument. Depending on your consistency, getting to this point takes 2-3 years.
Have you ever seen a piano player in a restaurant? If so, you've seen the professional level. People at this level generally have vast music theory knowledge, performing experience, and an extensive repertoire of songs. If you have no desire to get this good, that's completely fine. But, if you think it's impossible, you might be mistaken.
Though it may take 5-7 years to reach this point, it's attainable with weekly practice.
Techniques To Learn The Piano
Searching online, you can find endless ways to learn the piano. With endless techniques popping out at you, it can be hard to figure out which one is best. Here are some widely known and effective methods:
If you take piano lessons with a good teacher, you can expect to make consistent progress. In a few months, you could be playing very well.
Though piano lessons are a tried-and-true method for learning, not everyone has the money. If that's the case, there's still hope. Plenty of free teaching websites can get you up and running.
Teaching yourself doesn't always mean consulting free websites. You can do it yourself in many ways, but it can be challenging. If you choose this route, it's vital to use online resources to learn proper hand and finger techniques. Practicing a little each day with a game plan, you could improve equally as fast as with piano lessons.
Piano Playing Techniques
A few of the basics are scales, fingering, hand positioning, finger angles, and combing the hands. These are some of the things you should learn first. Many pianists try to skip the basics and go straight to advanced methods. This doesn't work. You have to learn to walk before you can run. You'll have much more potential to reach your goals by learning the basics first.
Sheet Music Methods
Some techniques make reading sheet music much easier. Once you have a basic understanding of the notes and rhythms, here are a few tips for reading sheet music faster:
Sight-reading doesn't need to be 100% spontaneous. In fact, most pianists would recommend carefully looking over the music before playing it. By this, you don't run into as many surprises. Going at a slower tempo can also help your mind process the notes.
As for looking ahead, let's use the example of driving a car. You don't just look right in front of the hood when driving, but instead, you look farther ahead to keep an eye on traffic. The same goes for reading sheet music. It's ideal to look a few beats ahead of where you're at in the music.
Piano Learning Plans
If you just want to be good enough to play easy songs, this might be your plan. Regardless of if you have a teacher, start with major scales, correct scale fingering, and major chords.
Once you have these things down, learning songs will be more manageable. Learn a few of your favorite songs to keep your interest. There's no need to focus 100% on scales and technicalities since it can be easy to burn yourself out when focusing on one aspect too much.
Even if it's just a little progress, it's important to practice the songs of your choice. Find a balance between technical and song practice.
If you want to impress lots of people, you might want to go with the moderate plan. After learning the basics, you continue moving up the ranks.
You should practice reading sheet music at least once or twice a week. Just like fitness progress from going to the gym each week, you'll see big gains in your sight-reading abilities. If you're going to play often, you should make sure your technique is up to par. Playing with a bad technique for a long time can lead to arthritis and wrist pains.
On top of major and minor chords, start learning 7th and 9th chords. It might also be an excellent choice to buy a piano exercise book to build your finger dexterity. One of the most famous books is "Hanon: The Virtuoso Pianist." The end result of this plan is one step up from an average pianist.
If you go with the advanced plan, that means you're very serious about reaching an exceptional level. As always, start with learning the basics. With this plan, having a broad understanding of music theory becomes essential. On top of learning songs, you dive into the theory of the notes and chords you're playing. Mastering all 12 major scales as well as 9th, 11th, and 13th chords is a must.
You should practice sight-reading at least 4 times a week and have a highly-efficient practice routine. You don't actually need to practice hours a day to reach this level. 30 minutes to an hour of practice a day is all you need. However, consistency is everything. With 30-60 minutes of mindful, structured, and focused practice each day, it might take 2-4 years to reach a prolific level.
You might wonder to yourself, "Is this type of plan worth it?" The answer depends on what you want to achieve playing the piano. Anyone who reaches this level will have skills admired by most people, including other pianists. This plan produces a skillset high enough for playing in restaurants or in a band.
What Factors Influence the Piano Learning Time?
Learning the piano is both challenging and rewarding. In most cases, it takes consistency and a strong desire to learn. However, there are a few factors that can significantly hinder your learning process. Here are a few of those factors:
Not Practicing Enough
"How much is enough?" Though this varies from person to person, it's much easier to tell how much isn't enough. If you only practice once a week, you likely won't reach your goals very quickly. By the time you practice the next week, you'll probably remember the progress you made. Making significant improvements calls for 3 or more short practice sessions each week.
Not Playing Your Favorite Music
What's the main reason you want to learn the piano? It's probably not the scales and exercises.
Lots of people get caught up practicing only scales and technicalities instead of songs they want to learn. Even though these things are important, you shouldn't focus solely on them. Doing this makes pianists quickly lose interest and burn out. When practicing the piano, it's essential to keep a balance between scales and songs.
Most people who use smartphones know how easily these devices can become distractions. When practicing, they can be especially damaging. A quick break to check social media can turn into a half-hour of lost practice. On the other hand, you don't need to be completely glued to the piano either. Taking a break every once and a while can make your practice even more productive.
If you end up practicing several hours a day, just make sure the session isn't full of distractions. Many musicians and pianists claim to practice 3-5 hours a day. In reality, most of that time usually isn't focused on practicing. You can achieve as much progress as them with 30 minutes of mindful, efficient practice a day.
Not Using a Metronome
A metronome is one of the most helpful tools musicians can use. You can use it to help you figure out rhythms you're unsure of as well as keep time. Without using a metronome, pianists have a hard time developing a solid internal rhythm. Certain music genres like rock, funk, and blues are heavily based on rhythm. If you would like to learn songs in those genres, having good rhythmic is essential. A pianist who never used a metronome might not understand why they can't play rock or blues correctly.
Not Practicing Sheet Music
If you're taking piano lessons, your teacher might regularly assign sheet music each week. On the other hand, if you're learning from the internet, this is all in your hands. Some people may prefer learning by ear, and that's fine. However, those who don't learn sheet music won't have as much music potential in the long run.
Not Enough Desire
Desire is the most significant factor when learning the piano. If you don't have much motivation, the process can be a lot more grueling. Without passion, you may find practicing more laborious than enjoyable.
On the other hand, if you have a strong desire, learning the piano will become much easier. Everyone who decides to learn the piano has a reason to do so. The most important thing is harnessing that reason to help you accomplish all of your piano goals.