Have you thought about learning piano as an adult but are not sure whether it would be worth your time?
Maybe you attended lessons when you were younger but never took it seriously and have since forgotten everything.
Or maybe you stuck with lessons for several years and still remember a bit but are now confused about where to pick up again.
I have had countless conversations with adults who tell me they would love to be able to play piano but feel that it’s simply too late to learn.
Each and every time I encounter this situation, my advice is the same.
It’s NEVER too late!
In fact, there are several benefits to learning piano as an adult versus as a child. (I believe there are way more than 5 but for purposes of keeping this post at a manageable length, I had to limit myself!)
In this post, I will be sharing the benefits of learning the piano as an adult, common roadblocks keeping you stuck, and resources for continuing your piano journey.
If you’re already confident that you’re ready to begin learning piano, check out this post.
Benefits of Learning Piano as an Adult
Music has the ability to transport us to a completely different place and time. It has the power to evoke a long forgotten memory or bring out emotions we have tried our hardest to avoid.
Try to imagine watching a movie without music. Pretty tough, isn’t it? Music is the unseen character adding life, passion, and humanity to each and every scene.
Music inspires and motivates on a deeper level than can be achieved in other ways.
And the ability to make music? To breathe life into the melody running through your mind? That is something else entirely!
1. Anxiety and Stress Reduction
I will be the first to raise my hand and admit I have anxiety.
Give me some type of vaguely hypothetical situation and I will concoct a compelling reason why you should be afraid. Very afraid.
Unfortunately for me, anxiety + creativity = excessive worry about completely ridiculous situations.
My tendency to allow anxiety to slowly creep in and eventually take over is one of the reasons I love playing piano the most.
When my brain is busy transferring notes from the page to my fingers, it doesn’t have space left to perseverate.
The integration required between the instrument, my brain, and my body is too complex to allow for any extraneous thoughts to creep in and take over.
And when I’m not fixated on anxiety-provoking thoughts, relief from the sometimes all-consuming anxiety follows.
Interestingly, research has shown that the act of making music is enough to interrupt the normal stress response which is triggered by anxiety.
Even beyond the physiological effects of the stress response is the fact that making music is simply fun!
You may also enjoy reading Elegie in Eb Minor.
2. Playing Piano Boosts Cognitition
Playing the piano is a complex task which requires integration of the motor system and multiple senses.
The pianist’s main goal in balancing all of this is to convey emotion through their artistry.
I don’t say this to intimidate you in any way but rather to encourage thought about the complexity involved in translating writing on a page to an emotional idea.
And where there is complexity, growth follows.
Multiple studies have shown differences in brain structure between people who study music and those who don’t.
This has most dramatically been noted in studies of cognition in the aging population.
In short, cognitive function is better in adults who study piano in comparison to adults who do not. If you’re curious and want to learn more, check out the study results yourself here.
Memory also improves among adults who play the piano.
Although adults typically aren’t taking math and reading tests on a regular basis, studying piano has also been shown to boost scores in these areas.
It may just be the compelling reason you need to inspire your kids to start learning piano as well???
3. Playing Piano Instills Discipline
Getting better at any type of activity requires doing more of that activity. The more we do something, the better we get at it.
Learning to play the piano is no different.
It requires a certain amount of dedication.
Consistent, high-quality practice results in progression of your skills.
The good news is that learning piano as an adult often requires a degree of discipline that you already have.
Chances are good that you have learned how to excel in various areas of your life. In order to excel, you have already figured out how to put in the work to see the pay-off.
And if discipline is an area you struggle with, there’s good news for you too!
Setting a practice schedule (and sticking with it) can set the stage for discipline in other areas of your life.
Once you have figured out consistency in this area, it’s easier to apply to other areas.
If you are looking for more tips on piano practice, check out this post.
4. Improved Ability to Handle Feedback
Getting feedback from someone else can be hard!
If you struggle with emotional vulnerability, the natural response to feedback often comes across as defensiveness.
And nothing shuts down open communication quicker than being defensive!
But sometimes we need the perspectives of others to make positive changes.
We need input from employers, spouses, and friends to become better versions of ourselves.
Unfortunately, daily life often doesn’t provide a safe space to practice receiving feedback.
Unless you’re learning a new skill under the direction of someone who is more advanced.
A new skill like learning to play the piano.
Learning a new skill takes the pressure off getting feedback.
As a beginner, you’re not expected to know anything. At the same time, feedback is exactly what you need to improve.
Piano lessons are a great way to practice getting feedback in a low-pressure situation. You can then apply this skill to other areas of your life and watch your ability to communicate with others improve as well!
5. Playing Piano Increases Confidence
Although it may seem contradictory, learning a new skill can actually increase your overall confidence.
Learning something new encourages a sense of curiousity. When we are curious, we are far less likely to be overly self-critical.
Our energy is instead focused on learning and growing. As we begin to see improvements, we become more and more confident.
The confidence from one specific area of our lives can spill into all other areas.
Especially if this new skill involves an element of performance.
And whether you are by yourself practicing, playing through a piece for your teacher, or giving a recital, music is performance.
Confidence is an essential aspect of musical performance and is incredibly useful in daily life.
Roadblocks Keeping You Stuck
Now that we’ve covered the top benefits of learning piano as an adult, let’s talk barriers.
Despite the benefits, I know there are a few things still holding you back from getting started. Let’s break them down, one-by-one.
Piano Lessons are for Kids
Although it is true that many people begin lessons as kids, learning as an adult actually has several advantages.
The first is that as an adult, you are choosing to learn piano. No one is setting a practice timer for you. You’re not getting grounded for skipping your lesson.
You call the shots.
It’s up to you to find a teacher you mesh well with. You also get to decide the instrument if you don’t already have one. It’s also entirely up to you whether you take in-person or online lessons.
Your success with the instrument rests entirely in your hands.
And speaking of hands … the second advantage to learning as an adult is that your hand-eye coordination and muscles are fully developed.
Learning certain pieces and specific techniques is now possible. Although kids may progress rapidly in their study of the instrument, they can be held back on further progress due to development.
The third advantage involves attention span and critical thinking skills. Both are much more advantageous to effective learning in an adult versus in kids.
Many kids can only sit and concentrate for ten minutes at a time. Their practice is therefore somewhat limited.
Adults on the other hand can focus for much longer stretches of time.
They also have a greater capacity to integrate music theory and analysis to more effectively learn music. This is one aspect of playing where I continue to feel somewhat disadvantaged.
Although I did have elements of music theory in my lessons from a very young age, I didn’t fully appreciate it until I was older. By that time, I feel that I had already developed my own specific way for learning pieces without the theory component.
I continue to accommodate for this deficit today and am making progress but feel that learning piano as an adult is a major asset in this area!
Time (Or Lack Thereof)
I get it. Your day is busy. Maybe even crazy. I’m sure there are days which pass so quickly you are left wondering where the time went when your head hits the pillow at night.
I have those days too.
But do you really want to spend your days wondering where the time went?
Or would you rather use the time you have been given to pursue your biggest goals and dreams?
Learning piano as an adult may seem like it will take an enormous amount of time and energy.
Depending upon your goals, it will.
Guess what though?
You don’t have to expend all that energy in one day. Practice is actually more beneficial if broken into small, very intentional, chunks of time.
You may also enjoy reading this post about how to find more time in your day.
There are days when I only have 10 minutes to devote to practice.
But I make the most of it and look forward to the days when I’m able to practice more.
Every minute adds up to better and better playing.
The time will pass anyway. You might as well make the most out of it!
You may also enjoy reading this post about how to be more intentional with your time.
Finding a Teacher
Thanks to technology, the days of traveling to your piano teacher’s house for lessons are gone.
There are still plenty of teachers who continue to offer lessons this way.
And learning this way continues to be the preferred method for many people.
But what are your options if you don’t have a teacher nearby? Or if you don’t have time to devote to driving to the teacher?
You could choose to attend lessons online or subscribe to a membership website dedicated to helping people learn to play piano.
One such membership website also has a Facebook group for others who are also learning to play.
I am personally part of one of these websites and have found it a great supplement to my existing knowledge.
You may also find this website helpful if you already have a solid foundation in piano basics but are looking to start again.
It’s a great option if geography or time limits your lesson options!
Check out an example of the lessons contained in the membership website here.
Finding an Instrument
Not having an instrument is an obvious barrier to learning piano as an adult.
In order to make progress, you will need consistent practice. Practice will require an instrument.
Luckily, you also have several options in this area.
Many people prefer an acoustic piano. Acoustic pianos come in several different sizes and in quite variable price ranges.
You can find a spinet (a smaller acoustic piano) for free on Craigslist. There are also many perfectly acceptable instruments out there for less than $1,000. Keep in mind that in many instances, you get what you pay for.
In the beginning of your studies, you can make progress with a lower quality instrument.
Investing less up front can also take the pressure off later if you decide that piano isn’t for you.
I definitely recommend working with a piano tuner to find an instrument within your budget. They will be able to give you an accurate estimate of the instrument you are considering. Piano tuners can also tell you whether any major work on the instrument is required.
An electronic keyboard is another option if space is limited. A great advantage of these is the option to plug in headphones. You can then practice any time of the day or night.
Keyboards also offer many different setting and recording options. They also come in a wide range of features and prices.
Let’s Get Started!
And there you have it! Five benefits to learning the piano as an adult and the common roadblocks holding you back. For even more information on getting started, check out this post on how to learn piano as an adult.
I truly hope this post inspires you to get out of your comfort zone and go for it! You never know where this one decision will take you. So get out there and get started!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article and whether it inspired you to take the first step!