You’ve thought about learning to play the piano but something is stopping you. Maybe it’s time. Or your age. Maybe you don’t feel “musically talented.”
Or maybe you would love to learn piano but have no idea where to even start.
Perhaps you have enrolled your child in lessons only to discover the challenges inherent to maintaining a practice regimen. And you’re now questioning whether their lack of practice makes lessons even worth it at this point.
I get it.
As someone who has played piano for as long as I can remember, I’ve also heard my fair share of myths surrounding the instrument. And there are a shocking number of piano practice myths out there!
Rest assured that at least part of what may be holding you (or your child) back from learning the instrument is likely a myth.
But you don’t have to let a series of lies hold you back from the joy of playing any longer. Let’s dive deeper into the top piano practice myths you need to stop believing!
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Kids and Piano Practice
Parents … this one’s for you! How many times have you signed your kid up for an activity only to be dismayed by the amount of fighting created by said activity?
Maybe it’s having to attend soccer practice instead of a friend’s birthday party. Or maybe your daughter would rather watch “The Babysitter’s Club” than go to her Girl Scouts meeting.
Signing your kids up for activities is all fun and games until the accountability hits. Believe me … with 3 kids, I’ve been there a time or two!
The Downside of Piano Lessons
And signing them up for piano lessons is no different. Many piano teachers out there have strict policies regarding weekly practice. I’ve even heard of teachers kicking students out for not practicing.
Or parents simply removing their kids from lessons over the guilt of not maintaining a practice schedule.
But can we take a step back for a minute and think about why we enrolled our kids in lessons in the first place? Was it so they could be the next great concert pianist? Or was it simply so they could learn about music and have fun?
Kids have way too much on their plates these days. The pressure to perform is everywhere and I hate the thought that kids are removed from what could be a lifetime of joyful music making simply because they didn’t practice per someone else’s guidelines.
If your child is naturally motivated to practice on a regular basis, great! You won the piano parent lottery! But if not, let them discover aspects of the instrument which are fun for them. If they love watching piano YouTube videos, great! Or if they love to improv instead of practice their lesson materials, awesome!
Stop forcing piano practice. Instead, encourage anything even remotely related to the instrument and you will foster a lifelong love for music. And honestly, isn’t that the whole point?
Lastly, make sure you find a piano teacher who supports the main goal as being fun and enjoyment rather than strict practice schedules and the pressure to perform.
If you need help locating a piano teacher, make sure you check out my recent post on how to find the right piano teacher for you!
Learning Piano Means Hours of Daily Practice
And speaking of piano practice myths … let’s dive into the one about daily practice requirements.
When I tell people that I practice piano every single day, the response is often, “Wow! How do you find the time? I’d love to play but have absolutely zero time in my day.”
And the truth is, I make time. I prioritize practice on a daily basis and refuse to let anything interfere with that time.
But I also don’t spend hours upon hours of playing on a daily basis. My practice sessions are often 20 minutes or less. And even those 20 minutes are frequently interrupted by kids screaming, work calls, and just the general chaos of everyday life.
Sometimes those practice sessions don’t even involve putting my fingers to the keys. When life gets too busy, they may consist of watching instructional videos (yes, on YouTube) or performances of pieces I’m currently studying.
Although there are days when I’m able to devote more time to practice, I’ve actually found that my memory retention is better when I practice for shorter time periods.
And so I continue to carve out those small chunks of time in my day to become a better pianist. If you’re curious to hear the end result of all those small practice sessions, check out my performance of one of my favorite pieces of all time … Elegie in E-flat Minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff.
Piano Practice Myths About Your Age
I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me that they would love to learn piano but never learned when they were young. My response to this one?
It’s NEVER too late!
There are actually so many advantages to learning the instrument as an adult. Not least of which is that you get to decide WHY you want to learn to play and have the flexibility to determine HOW you learn.
No one is forcing you to learn a style or genre you hate. And there’s no guilting you into recitals or exams you’re completely disinterested in taking.
You are in control.
Another major benefit of learning piano as an adult is your attention span. Children have such short attention spans and keeping them focused is a perpetual challenge. As an adult, however, your ability to focus on something for longer periods of time is completely developed and when combined with motivation, you are an unstoppable force!
You also get to choose whether your practice instrument is a keyboard, a spinet, or even a baby grand. Your learning is all in your hands.
How incredible is that?
If you’re curious about even more benefits of learning to play piano as an adult, make sure to check out this post.
All Music Must be Memorized
In the world of classical piano, memorization is historically mandatory for performances. Watch any great pianist on YouTube and it’s very likely that they are playing an incredibly difficult piece without a shred of music in front of them.
And they’re pulling it off without so much as a wrong note anywhere.
Talk about intimidating!
This is one of the piano practice myths nearest and dearest to my heart because for years, I struggled with memorization. Although I started piano as a child, I never memorized ANYTHING until I began my college studies and suddenly realized memorization was mandatory.
I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to learn how to memorize at that level of playing! And I can’t say that I mastered the art of memorization until after college when I started memorizing for my own enjoyment.
The key phrase here is “for my own enjoyment.” Music is, at its core, something created for enjoyment. If playing from memory brings you joy, do it. But if the thought of memorizing a piece brings fear and apprehension, what’s the point?
Play for the fun of it and if that means playing from a book, so be it!
You Don’t Need a Teacher to Learn Piano
One of the most rampant piano practice myths out there involves the ability to learn piano all by yourself. There are an incredible number of apps, websites, and YouTube videos devoted to the topic of teaching yourself piano.
And I don’t necessarily disagree.
There are so many aspects of the instrument including music theory, improv, and composition which can be picked up by watching videos and reading blogs.
But there are other aspects, such as technique, which truly require the expertise and insight from a knowledgeable teacher. You simply can’t replace the 1:1 feedback you get from lessons with an experienced teacher.
And thanks to technology, there are an incredible number of teacher who offer online lessons. Teachers with a variety of performance and educational backgrounds.
The online world gives you access to teachers you would never otherwise have the ability to study with. It truly is an incredible time in history study piano!
And if you’re looking for an online teacher, check out my Resource page which lists incredibly talented piano teachers currently accepting new students.
You Must Have a Teacher to Learn Piano
I know what you’re thinking … “Didn’t you just say I needed a teacher to learn piano?”
Depending upon your goals, having a piano teacher is essential. This is especially true if you’re interested in pursuing higher level study of the instrument.
But if your goal is to learn a few pop chords as a party trick, apps and videos may be your best bet.
And if you have already have a solid background in the instrument but are wanting to get back into it again or simply brush up your skills, you may also benefit from an app or website.
My personal favorite online course is run by Dr. Josh Wright, an internationally acclaimed pianist. I absolutely love classical piano and his course is hands down the best for classical players. It delves into all the intricacies of technique and interpretation of some of the most beloved piano repertoire.
I personally have learned so much from the course that I became an affiliate because I felt other pianists needed to hear about it as well! If you’re interested in checking the course out for yourself, click here.
Piano Requires Perfection
“Use the talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”Henry van Dyke
Spend any time at all trolling YouTube and you will come across a litany of flawless performances of some of the most difficult piano repertoire out there. Musical perfection at its finest.
Sometimes I think people get the impression that to play piano, you MUST play everything perfectly, all the time. And that if you’re not at least a little on the perfectionism side, piano isn’t the instrument for you.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
There’s so much that learning how to play the instrument gives you in return, even if you can’t play anything perfectly. I personally feel that as long as you inject emotion into your playing, wrong notes don’t matter.
There’s also something to be said about making each performance of a piece (whether in front of other people or your dog!) unique. Making something unique comes from a range of different factors, including wrong notes.
And as long as playing is meaningful to you, who cares what anyone else thinks?
The world could ALWAYS use a little more beauty, in whatever form it comes so play on!
If you’re struggling with perfectionism, make sure to check out this post on how to overcome perfectionism.
It’s Your Turn to Talk About Piano Practice Myths
I truly hope you have found this post both inspirational and informative in dispelling some of the biggest piano practice myths out there. And hopefully dispelling the myths has provided that little kick of motivation you need to go after your piano playing dreams!
If you’re looking for even more resources, check out the following posts:
And if you’re interested in learning more about Dr. Josh Wright’s ProPractice course, check it out for yourself here.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this post! Did I miss one of the piano practice myths currently holding you back? If so, drop a comment below and I’ll be sure to let you know what I think!
Now get out there and start making some music!