I do believe anyone asking ‘Am I too old to learn the piano’ knows the answer already. You know that you can never be too old. What you are actually asking is if it’s a worthwhile investment of your time, energy and money to start this piano journey. This is a very common concern and I would like to provide some insights and thought exercises to clarify the pros and cons of learning the piano. In the end, the decision is yours and I hope you can make a well-informed one.
Learning to play the piano is a long journey and it’s not easy. It’s actually a huge commitment, especially for an adult. There will be moments that you just want to quit. And when that moment comes, you as an adult can find a million excuses. Thus, before you spend your money on a piano and lessons, go through this article and find out if you should even start.
Being an adult, you should have learned that for many things in life, the ‘WHY‘ is the most important question to figure out. Learning piano is no different. Why do you want to learn to play the piano? What do you want to achieve and how long are you willing to work for it?
You need to dig deep into your thoughts and do some self-reflection. I can not do that for you but I can give you some ideas.
I started learning piano at age 34. At the time, I couldn’t play any musical instrument at all and I felt like I was missing out on life. To live life to its fullest, how could I not play at least one musical instrument. I wasn’t aiming for the best pianist in human history nor to perform at a concert. I didn’t care to impress my friends or family. Learning piano is about expanding my life experience and I do this for myself and for myself only.
Having a clear understanding of your purpose is a very power tool to keep you inspired and motivated during the long and sometimes hard journey of learning the piano.
You can do a lot with a piano. You can play classic, jazz, pop, or sing along with it. Before you start learning piano, you need to find one genre that interests you the most and focus on that. Each of these genres requires very different skills and playing styles. You will be overwhelmed and confused if you try to learn them all in the beginning.
While choosing the genre you want to focus on in the beginning, it’s important to know how accomplished you would feel when you can play some pieces in that genre. One way you can do is to listen to some pieces that you like in that genre and imagine you are the one who’s playing. I often move my figures just to reinforce that illusion. In the end of the music, pay attention to what you feel. This is important because when you do take the time and effort to learn a piece, you want to feel happy, content and accomplished. Otherwise, you won’t be motivated enough to keep learning and practicing.
Being an adult means responsibilities. You probably have a job, family and friends that takes a lot of your time each day. You are probably thinking that you can only practice piano during the weekends. Well, that just won’t work.
Learning piano requires daily practice. So before you start, design a way to incorporate piano practice into your daily routine. Just as an example, I practice every day after diner. Like developing a new habit, it gets easier and easier.
One more thing about daily practice, it doesn’t have to be a fixed amount of time. You can set your own rules here. Practice for as long as you feel like with a minimum requirement, for example 10 minutes. This makes it easy to practice daily because even if you are having a bad day, you can always sit down for 10 minutes. It won’t feel like a big task you have to perform every day.
Peace of mind
Let’s be honest here. Learning how to play the piano is complicated and frustrating. Sometimes you just want to smash the keys and quit. It would get much harder if your life is already chaotic and you always have a million things to do or if you are constantly under huge pressure.
So before you start, take a hard look at your life and ask yourself if you are ready to learn the piano. Analyze your daily routine and your mental state. When in doubt, start with reading a book. Test if you can spend 10 minutes a day in peace to read a book.
It’s no surprising that learn piano is hard, especially for adult beginners. Many would quit along the way. To succeed, you need to be well-prepared before you even start. Otherwise that expensive piano you buy will only be a pretty decoration for your living room. I share some of my thoughts and experience with you in this article and I hope that’s helpful.
If you are looking for a digital piano to start your journey, check out these best digital pianos of the year!
Leave a comment and share with me you thoughts and experiences of your journey with this amazing instrument!
I very much agree that one should not force himself into playing piano, the more important is to cultivate a habit to play it everyday but with less hours. I learnt 1 year piano when I was 5 (because my Asian parents forced me to LOL) and man! I hated it! …. however when I was in high-school I heard my neighbour played a song with her piano and that’s when I truly fell in love with it decided to continue with it… I believe interest is the best teacher, and anyone can start at any age, just ENJOY!
Hi Fei, thank you for sharing your story with us! Interest and motivation is indeed very crucial for any hobby. Especially difficult ones like playing the piano.
Hi Wei, Thanks for the good advice. Having a clear understanding of the reasons why we want to learn will help motivate us on our learning journey. And yes, the same things apply to anything we want to achieve in our lives. Thanks for the reminder.
Thanks for dropping by and left a comment. Keep motivated is crucial not only to learn the piano but to life in general.
I always seem to have had trouble once things went from beginner to intermediate. For piano it was when two hands were needed. The song I realized this on was Color My World. A beautiful song and just as whimsical with only the piano playing. Unless it was me doing it. Couldn’t figure out finger placement or how to move around the piano. That is where an instructor comes in handy!!! Didn’t have the time or the commitment though. One day I’ll commit though. I’d like to add that I don’t believe in being too old to learn. I find I’m learning things faster than I ever did when I was a kid. You just need the desire to learn it.
Hi Bruce, excellent point you make. It’s never too old to learn.
Putting two hands together was a pain for me as well, my fingers just don’t follow their orders. It’s like there’s some sort of connection issue between my fingers and my brain. But, it does get easier and it gets easier fast if you persist.
You made a good point here, Wei. Everything we learn expands our life experience – and sometimes even more. The saddest thing for me is that a lot of people stop learning the day the graduate or complete their vocational training. If you watch children they permanently learn new things, because they are interested and love to do for themselves, what appears appealing to them.
Hi Felix, I guess for adults, learning new things are risky.
Babies don’t care if they fail, there’s no one around to judge them. More importantly, they don’t judge themselves.
We adults can’t help but think about all the time and effort might be wasted if we fail and the impact on our ego.
Hi Wei, I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the piano in some fashion. I just don’t know where to start. I know it takes time and discipline but it’s something that is a dream of mine and at 66 I’m ready.
Is it that hard to learn? I know it takes quite a while to learn. Thanks!
Hi Rob, if you are ready and you are motivated enough, it’s not that hard. As an adult learner, what you often find is that your fingers are the one that struggle the most.
How to learn also plays a significant part. I’ll write about that in latter articles. Basically you don’t want to overwhelm and bore yourself with all those technical exercises. Mix it up and keep yourself motivated is the key.
Do come back and check future articles about learning the piano. I hope they’ll be helpful to you. Thank you for being here!
This is a really interesting post. I’d absolutely love to be able to play a musical instrument but have always been a bit afraid of piano as it looks so complicated! Do you think it’s worth trying to learn on a keyboard first before investing in a piano? Are the skills transferable?
Hi Amy, thanks for leaving a comment here. I know exactly what you mean. I had the same fear and doubts before I started.
One thing I want to point out is that piano is actually easier than many other instruments. A key is a key, there’s no guess work. Imagine on a voilin, it takes experience to know where to hold the strings for a certain note.
As for keyboard, absolutely you can start on a digital piano. Do make sure you get one with 88 keys and they’re weighted and graded. I myself started on a Yamaha P45, which is very cheap for a digital piano. You can check my review of it here.
Also, I plan to write a buyer guide for digital piano as well as an article to explain all the marketing terms and technical aspects of the digital piano industry. Come back and check them out if you are interested.
Thank you for a very good and thought provoking post.
I play guitar, and I can recognise a lot of what you are writing about here. I started earlier, so I didn’t have any structure to it, when I started out! But as I have become an adult, and now have a family, it is exactly as you write, it has become increasingly important to have some structure to my practice.
I have reacquainted a love for drawing as an adult, and I have a lot of the same challenges with this endeavour as well… 😉
Thank you again for a great article!
Hi Michael, thank you so much for being here. I’m really happy to hear that you resonate with this article. I wrote this solely based on my experience and what I struggled with. Glad to know I’m not alone. I wish you all the best and tone of fun with your drawing journey!