Learning Piano as an Adult (Is It Possible?)

In Guides for Pianists by Jake LLeave a Comment

Last updated on May 2nd, 2019 at 08:55 pm

Many talented pianists started learning the piano at a young age. They might have spent many years taking piano lessons, practicing different techniques, learning music theory, and overall honing their craft as a pianist during their childhood. The result, they can perform the piano at a high level while having a good understanding and foundation for this instrument. But if you’re like me, your interest in learning to play the piano came a little later in life. Learning piano as an adult is definitely a different experience compared to if you were to start learning as a child.

So is it possible to learn the piano when you’re an adult, or is your potential limited because you didn’t start younger? While it can be very difficult, it is very possible and I’m here to explain to you my experience so far so you can have an idea of why I think so.

Learning Piano as an Adult VS as a Child (Comparisons)

The experience of learning the piano is very different when you are a child compared to learning as an adult.

Learning Piano As A Child:

Many talented pianists started honing their crafts when they were kids. They may have gotten private piano lessons every week with the support from their parents. But even if it seems ideal to start learning the piano as a child, there are pros and cons that we can look at.


  • As children, we have more time to invest in our learning of an instrument.
  • We are also easily influenced, making it easier for us to become interested in learning and trying out new things.
  • You may also have parents or an adult figure constantly making sure that you are getting your practice in.
  • There were fewer things to stress about while we were kids, allowing us to focus more
  • There’s a good chance that you didn’t have to pay for your own piano lessons and other expenses. (Special thanks to all of the parents out there)
  • The piano becomes a part of your life growing up.


  • As children, our interests shifts more frequently, so you might not stick with the piano as you grow older.
  • It’s possible that your parents are the ones who are making you learn the piano instead of you genuinely wanting to.
  • It may be more difficult to grasp music theory and concepts at a younger age, taking more time to learn.
  • Piano lessons structured for kids tend to go at a slower pace, making you progress slower too.
  • Piano lesson books for kids tend to come in packages, meaning you will be spending more money on books.
  • It can be more difficult to stay focused during piano lessons and practice sessions.
  • Learning piano as a child can be stressful, especially if it’s not something you actually want to do.

Learning Piano As An Adult:

Now learning piano as an adult is definitely a different experience. If you have decided that you want to learn how to play the piano as an adult, this means that you genuinely want to learn how to play. It doesn’t seem so easy though with our hectic schedules and other priorities as adults, but it is still possible.

Here are some pros and cons when it comes to learning how to play the piano as an adult.




  • You most likely genuinely want to learn the piano, keeping you more motivated to learn and practice.
  • You can learn how to play the piano faster as an adult
  • You’ll have more musical experiences that you can draw from while you learn to play the piano. (Other instruments, listening to music, live performances, other musicians)
  • It will be easier for you to read, understand, and apply different concepts and music theory as an adult.
  • Adult piano lessons are structured to move along quicker, making you progress more in less time
  • You are more able to apply instructions from your piano teacher
  • It’s easier for you to self-study the piano on your own time when you’re not at your lessons.
  • Let’s not forget that your hands are fully developed so you have the muscles and size to play the piano with proper posture, form, and technique.
  • You already know what you want to learn when it comes to piano and music in general.


  • Adults have more things to do in their schedules, making it challenging to find time to practice the piano.
  • All of the funds needed for piano lessons, books, gear, etc. will come out of your own pocket.
  • Jobs and other priorities may get in the way of your weekly piano lessons and practice sessions.
  • It can be discouraging for some to see younger kids play the piano at a higher level.
  • There may be an urge to rush through your lessons and practice sessions.
  • No one’s there to keep reminding you to practice, meaning you have to stay self-motivated.
  • It can be demotivating if you aren’t seeing as much progress as you expected.

Overall, there many pros and cons to consider when we talk about the differences of learning piano as an adult compared to learning piano as a child. The approach is similar, but at the same time different as children and adults learn new things in different ways.

What might work for kids, may not work for adults, and vice versa.

So as an adult piano student myself, what has my experience been like since I started this journey? That’s what I will be talking about next.

The Experience of Learning Piano as an Adult

My Musical Background

First of all, here’s a little background on my music history. I started learning how to play the guitar and ukulele as an elementary student with private lessons. In middle school, I started to pick up the bass guitar and started experimenting with some singing and drums in high school. I started taking singing more seriously in college, taking private music lessons with a classical focus. The most recent addition to my musical arsenal would be the piano, which brings us to where we are now.

The Piano Journey So Far

I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the piano, but as a kid, I stuck with guitar most of the time.

In my second year of college, one of my roommates was a student of the piano for 10+ years. He introduced me to the instrument while we lived together and began teaching me a few piano concepts and techniques. He taught me a lot, which definitely kickstarted my interest in learning to play the piano.

I didn’t begin taking it seriously until after I graduated from college. I reached out to one of my childhood friends, who is also an amazing pianist. He recommended me to his piano teacher from when he was younger, and thus, my piano journey really begins.

Taking Piano Lessons as an Adult

When I arrived at my first piano lesson, I was nervous but excited.

As I met with the teacher for the first time, I introduced myself and expressed my genuine interest in learning to play the piano.

The teacher brought out some adult piano books for me to get started on. The first lesson was easy due to the amount of practice I got back in college before I started, but I did learn a few important things I didn’t know about prior, such as the basics around the piano, techniques, and fundamentals.

I was also able to start working on my music reading ability again.

At first glance, it looked like the lessons would move along slower than I expected, but it quickly changed once I got to my third lesson.

My piano teacher adjusted to how fast I was learning and began to move along quicker with our lessons. We were able to cover more in my weekly lessons, covering more material in my lesson books in a shorter amount of time.

It eventually got to a point where we were moving along steadily, and I liked it. I was able to see my progression every week and it kept me motivated to learn.

The half-hour lessons sometimes turned into 1-hour lessons. My piano teacher was very kind with this as she kept the price the same for me.

So far, my experience with this piano teacher has been positive, and I really liked how she is able to adjust to my own learning pace and my schedule.

What’s Happening Now

I am still taking piano lessons from the same teacher, and I am progressing at a good pace.

I’m getting much better at my music reading abilities and have started experimenting with some piano improvisation.

There have been some moments where work, responsibilities, and other priorities made it difficult for me to practice, but so far, I’ve been getting by with my piano lessons/practice sessions.

As of right now, I plan to continue taking piano lessons as long as I can, or at least until I get to a point where I feel comfortable learning more on my own.

The Challenges of Learning Piano as an Adult


Don’t try this on your own piano

I’ve encountered many different challenges throughout my experience of learning piano as an adult.

While some are minor obstacles that I found easy to overcome, there are two main challenges that I stumbled upon that made it difficult for me.



Challenge #1: Time Management

The first major challenge was finding enough time in my hectic schedule to practice and attend my piano lessons.

Having a full-time job is a big time commitment every week, especially since my shifts usually go for ten hours or more every work day. Not only did work take so much time out of my day, I found myself coming home exhausted from the long day.

I also have other priorities throughout my weeks such as my weight training program, family, and other projects.

Even though I am able to find some time throughout my day to get my piano practice in, I felt that my efficiency during these practice sessions isn’t always maximized. This could be due to the tiredness I feel after a long day, but it could also be all of the distractions of my other priorities and responsibilities.

I definitely found myself losing focus much easier and sometimes found myself stressed out while I practice and played the piano.

When it comes to my lessons, I sometimes have to let my teacher know that my schedule is too busy a certain week, requesting if I could re-schedule for the next week instead.

Thankfully, my piano teacher has been understanding and has allowed it, however, I can’t help but feel bad whenever I have to cancel one of my weekly piano lessons with her.

Challenge #1: Time Management (The Solution)

Even though this was one of the harder obstacles to overcome, I did find a solution that has been helping me.

I set a schedule to practice the piano at least once a day at the same time for 15-30 minutes. This helps me develop a habit of practicing the piano every day and allows me to progress, even if it’s just a little bit at a time.

The 15-minute minimum is good because it doesn’t seem like an intimidating amount of time that I need to dedicate. Even if it just the minimum, it allows me to be more inclined to practice the piano, and once I’ve gotten started, I find myself going for longer during my practice sessions.

Let’s just say the 15-minute minimum seems more approachable while still allowing for more time if I feel like I am up for it that day.

Like I said earlier, I am thankful for my piano teacher for understanding that it may be hard some weeks for me to schedule a piano lesson. I have also gotten better at not skipping my weekly lessons. Like my piano lessons, I try to make my schedule for each week to include one piano lesson no matter how tight it might be.

Challenge #2: Demotivation

Photo credit: eflon on Visual hunt / CC BY

This was a big challenge that I ran into after a couple of weeks of learning the piano.

There were moments where I felt demotivated to continue learning the piano and it was tough for me. I knew that I had to learn at my own pace, but I found myself comparing my level of playing to younger students.

Seeing piano students who are 10-15 years younger than me playing the piano at a higher level discouraged me at times. I felt embarrassed for other students to hear me play the piano at such a low level compared to them.

I began doubting my ability to learn and even started blaming myself for not trying to learn how to play the piano earlier in my life.

There was one week where I just felt completely burnt out so I took a short break.

This was a tough obstacle to overcome, but I eventually was able to find a solution to this negative mindset that I have developed.

Challenge #2 Demotivation (The Solution)

During my one week break from the piano, I began reassessing the reasons why I wanted to learn the piano.

After much thought, I realized that I didn’t want to be the next piano prodigy with crazy masterful skills. I also found that comparing myself to other students, both younger and older was useless because we all have our own goals when it comes to the piano.

What really helped me with the problem of comparing myself negatively to these other students was looking at these talented piano students as inspirations for me to improve my ability to play this instrument.

I worked on becoming more confident in myself and coming to the realization that I will learn the piano at my own pace. There are ways for me to speed up my progress, but I won’t get anywhere if I just give up playing altogether.

And the one thing that I almost forgot during this negative time in my learning.

It’s all about having fun

I almost forgot that one of the main reasons for me wanting to learn how to play the piano was that it is such a fun instrument to play. Something so simple as having fun made me remember what gave me that initial drive to learn.

It’s been a couple of months since this time of demotivation, and I now find myself even more motivated and inspired to learn how to play the piano.

Even though learning piano as an adult can lead to so much stress and demotivating moments, I find the strength to keep working hard and striving for my own goals as a piano student.

How to be Successful when Learning Piano as an Adult

Throughout my entire experience of learning the piano so far, I’ve come across a few important things that have helped me progress and meet my goals as a student.

Set Realistic Goals

There’s a lot of beginner adult students who want to become an incredible piano player in a short amount of time, but in reality, it’s just an unrealistic goal for most. Once you find yourself not achieving the goals you have set for yourself, you will feel discouraged, frustrated, even burnt out.

This is why you should set realistic goals when it comes to learning the piano. Set smaller goals in between your bigger goals so you will feel a sense of accomplishment once you reach these milestones.

Make your goal realistic, but don’t be afraid of striving for more.

And make sure to set a plan on how you’re going to achieve every goal and milestone that you have set for yourself.

Learn The Things You Want to Learn

Following a structured lesson plan can be great, especially with a good piano teacher. This is normally how younger kids are taught when they are first starting to learn the piano.

As an adult, it’s different because you may already have an idea of what style of music you want to play.

Maybe you really want to learn how to play jazz music or focus more on pop songs. It is also possible that you want to go the traditional route and focus on classical music.

Being an adult piano student can give you more freedom when it comes to learning the piano. If you wanted to learn jazz, pop, or classical, then find a teacher who specializes in teaching these styles of music.

With the beauty of the internet, we have access to online videos, guides, and much more that could help us learn more of what we want to learn when it comes to the piano.

While it is important to learn the fundamentals of piano and music theory, it’s also important to learn the things you want to learn. It will help you be more interested in the piano, and even more motivated to keep working hard.


You probably hear this all of the time, but you need to keep on practicing. You won’t get anywhere with your piano playing if you don’t put in the practice needed to progress.

As an adult student of the piano, my busy schedule makes it hard for me to put in some practice time every day. Or does it?

The truth is, I would make-up excuses to not practice some days. Excuses like not having the time or being too stressed out to practice. This is when I decided to make it a routine, where I would dedicate some part of my day to practicing the piano. It really helped if I was doing it at the same time every day.

I actually found that I had more time to practice than I thought and that I didn’t need to always put in an hour-long practice session every day to progress towards my personal piano goals.

Like I said earlier in this article, 15 minutes of practice every day can go a long way. If you really don’t have that much time to practice, I’m sure you can find 15 minutes somewhere in your day to hone your piano playing skills.


Consistency is key if you ever want to improve on your piano playing ability. You need to consistently practice the piano, analyze what you can do to improve, learn new songs and techniques, overall gaining experience as a pianist.

The biggest difference between a beginner adult student and an adult who was playing the piano since they were kids is the amount of experience each person has with the instrument.

That pianist who’s been playing for many years has many years of experience that came from their consistent efforts to improve their piano playing skills.

As a person who’s been playing guitar and singing for many years, the beginning can be very challenging, and you will get frustrated at times. It’s how you can consistently learn and overcome challenges that will determine your success in learning to play the piano, or any other instrument, especially as an adult.


The last thing I want you to keep in mind is that you need to be confident.

Don’t constantly compare your skills to other pianists in a negative way. Just because that kid is playing the piano much better than you are now, doesn’t mean you won’t ever get the chance to play the piano at a higher level too.

Be confident in your ability to play the piano and in your ability to learn.

Every professional pianist started somewhere, and they probably were just as bad as you when they started. Who knows, maybe they were even worst.

Just always be confident and stay motivated to reach your goals. It’s not the end of the world if you make mistakes during your lessons or practice sessions. If anything this is the best time for you to learn and improve on your skills.

It does take a confident person to overcome the challenges that you may face during your journey of learning the piano. Just always keep your head up, work hard, and you’ll see improvement in your piano playing abilities in no time.

Final Thoughts

Learning piano as an adult isn’t impossible. In fact, I believe that it might actually be better to learn as an adult.

Everyone will face challenges on their journey of learning the piano, but if you can overcome these challenges, you will on the right path to piano playing success.

It definitely is a different experience compared to learning piano as a kid, but with the right mindset and dedication, it can be done.

Never feel discouraged and always work hard! The payoff of learning how to play the piano, a life skill that you will take with you throughout your life will be worth all of the struggles you go through in the beginning.

Now if you’re still hesitant about starting to learn piano as an adult, my last piece of advice is to just go and do it.

Remember, we all start somewhere, but we can’t get anywhere without taking the first step.

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