We've all been there: you hear Adele's Someone Like You or Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, and before you know it, your fingertips are tapping away at your imaginary piano, simultaneously in time with those catchy introductions. All it takes is the first few familiar beats and, in your head, you're a professional musician, wondering how long it would take for you to learn your favourite hits on a real-life piano. So, how hard is it really to turn your dreams into reality? The truth is, it definitely comes with its challenges, especially if you have no prior experience of playing an instrument or reading music. However, in an attempt to dispel any common myths, I want to confirm that it's not impossible, and it really is never too late to learn, whatever age you are.
As an experienced piano teacher, I would encourage everyone and anyone to give it a go. After all, what have you got to lose? Before you start, though, here's the truth to learning to play the piano and what challenges you might face along the way.
One of the best things about playing the piano is that even the most inexperienced musician can make the sound of a note by simply pressing down a key. It won't long for anyone to string a few notes together to create some sort of melody by listening to the keys they are pressing. Playing an easy piano song with one hand, even if you want to use the same finger, is certainly achievable. The introduction of chords and using both hands is when it becomes more difficult.
Despite your best intentions, you sadly won't be able to jump straight into a Beethoven classic. Instead, you'll find you need to practice the basic songs to allow yourself to get used to the notes.
This can be a real turn off for learners, but honestly, it's part of the process and is key to you becoming the best piano player possible. Repeatedly playing songs like 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' might seem frustrating, but with a bit of practice, you'll be playing them in your sleep and will soon be able to move onto more complex – and fun – songs.
The first real challenge a beginner will face is using both hands to play the piano, especially when it comes to training your non-dominant hand (the one you don't write with) to do work. It's important to train both hands so one doesn't fall behind and get neglected. It will feel strange at first, and yes, it will probably be difficult and will take practice, but with the right guidance, you'll soon start to get the hang of it.
There's no denying that reading music can be hard and can be a real turn-off for adults. If you learn to read music as a youngster, it soon becomes a second language to them, but for adults, it's a different story. As a teacher, though, I encourage you to look beyond this barrier. I promise you will pick it up eventually.
While reading notes is the first step, learning to play the notes you're reading comes after, a skill that is arguably more difficult to grasp. Things become even harder when you have to read music for both hands at the same time.
Hard work, along with patience, will help, though. My advice is to start slow and simple, increasing the complexity over time.
Ultimately, the main factor that will contribute to how difficult it is to learn the piano is whether you have a good teacher or not. With an experienced teacher by your side, you'll be able to learn the correct posture and hand position, both of which can be instrumental in helping you during those early stages. You'll have guidance when it comes to learning to read music and listen to the sound of notes, providing you with the necessary support needed when it comes to being able to play your all-time favourite songs. If you're a budding musician exploring the idea of learning to play the piano, then get in touch with me. I offer bespoke piano lessons to both adults and children in Chelsea, London.