Can an Adult Learn to Play the Piano?

“Is it possible for me to learn how to play the piano? Now? Now that I’m an adult? Can I as an adult take piano lessons and actually attain the level of playing I want before it’s too late?” Yes, you can! It may seem daunting to take on “music” as a whole subject. There’s a lot to take in, for sure, but all it takes to begin learning is you, the right instructor, a piano or digital keyboard, and your dedication. Here are some tips to getting started:

Age Is an Advantage

Compare yourself now to you as a child. Chances are that back then you lacked the amount of knowledge and experience you have now. Learning a new skill comes quickly when you have something to relate it to or associate with it. You’ve had decades of experiences emotionally, physically, and psychologically that will contribute to your piano playing skills. Because music is an art and a language, you’re not just learning how to decode the notes on the staff, but you’re also learning how to physically create sounds that communicate emotions.

Prioritize Practicing

I can’t stress enough that it’s better to practice less time each day every day than it is to practice a whole week’s worth in one day. You’ll see progress both ways, but using your skills every day is a faster, surer way to becoming a competent pianist. Along those lines, don’t feel like you have to practice everything all in one setting. Feel free to break up your sessions, just be sure that you’re reviewing everything you covered in your last lesson each day until your next lesson.

Find a Local Instructor

Online resources are getting more and more competitive, so you can definitely learn a lot from them, but there’s so much advantage to live lessons with a local instructor. Your instructor can instantly identify issues so that you don’t have to worry about manifesting bad habits in ignorance that could inhibit future playing. Another advantage to working with a local instructor is that you can ask them questions in real time. If you’re looking for piano lessons in Philadelphia, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Have an Instrument

Because daily, regular practice is vital for success, you need to have access to an instrument, whether acoustic or digital, whether you own it or borrow it. Yes, that’s right, you don’t have to buy a piano in order to start lessons. If purchasing an instrument is still a few paychecks away, ask your friends or neighbors if you can play their piano. It never hurts to ask, but also they’d probably like it! Who doesn’t enjoy free, live music? If you’re already set on owning a piano or digital keyboard, do a quick internet search before you head to the music store. Chances are that you’ll find a used instrument in good condition for just a fraction of the cost.

Be Ready for a Long-Term Commitment

Taking piano lessons means more than just learning a party trick. If you’v found the right instructor, they have an immense well of knowledge that they want to share with you, and you’re paying for it, so take advantage! No matter what your goal is, enjoy the process. It’s all about the time and effort you can put into it. So don’t suffocate your potential with a hard fast end-date to “becoming a pianist.” Instead, create a playlist of all the songs and pieces you want to play for yourself.

It’s a Journey

It really is. You’ll experience highs and lows, victories and defeats, but it’s all worth it in the end, because, let’s be real, the piano doesn’t do anything wrong against you. It’s there for you all the time. Everything you put into it, it gives right back. That said, you’ll experience failure, but you’ll overcome it. And when you’ve overcome it, don’t be surprised if you experience a sort of high that makes you want to experience the process all over again.


Attaining a new skill takes time and lots of repetition. You’re teaching your muscles to move in ways they don’t have to in regular day-to-day activities. So when you hit a wall or something particularly challenging, channel any sort of frustration into determination to conquering said obstacle. Practicing at half performance tempo is grueling, I know, but it builds a solid foundation so that you can gradually add speed without taking away the good technique you’ve attained. Lastly, remember that taking a break can be as valuable as repetitions as long as it’s intentional and you pick up practicing the same section again.

Master the Fundamentals

Without a solid foundation, the house won’t stand for long. That’s not a quote as far as I know, but the illustration remains. If you want to be an independent musician and competent pianist, don’t ignore the fundamentals of playing technique, music literacy, and music theory. If the basics are solidly understood, you can build more at a quicker rate than if there are holes or weak spots.

Erika Gingery