5 Benefits of Learning Piano as an Adult

5 Benefits of Learning Piano as an Adult

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.

Maybe.

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!

Piano Practice Tips to Improve Your Playing

Piano Practice Tips to Improve Your Playing

As I write this, we are about to turn the calendar over to a brand new year. This time of year always inspires me to think back on the great times and the lessons learned. It’s also time to look ahead to the new year and identify simple, specific goals to make even greater strides. One area which is always prominent in my goal setting is that of improving my pianistic skills. It is in this spirit that I give you my best piano practice tips to improve your own playing!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

Break Up Your Piano Practice

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks then starting on the first one.”

Mark Twain

Mark Twain’s timeless wisdom captures the very common block which often prevents us from moving forward in our pursuits. I am definitely guilty of building tasks up to an impossibly complex level in my head. After awhile, the task begins to seem completely unattainable and not even worth the effort.

But if you break the task up into smaller pieces, it suddenly becomes much more attainable.

This is true whether you are attempting to learn a new piece, improve your technique, or memorize a Beethoven Sonata. Unless you break these goals up, you will remain stuck.

Luckily, music is quite amenable to being broken into smaller, more manageable sections. This first piano practice tip may seem somewhat simplistic but it has propelled my playing further than any other. Taking one measure (or even one note) at a time allows you to block out everything else. It enables you to forget about the fast run in measure 43. Or the trills in 106. You can instead simply focus on tackling measure one.

Taking a piece mindfully measure by measure cements fingerings, dynamics, and rhythms into your brain. It does so much more permanently than 500 mindless repetitions ever will. Give yourself permission to really learn the music by honing in one measure at a time.

Play What You Love

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to remain silent.”

Victor Hugo

I love listening to the film score channel on Pandora when I write. There’s nothing that inspires me to add a touch of dramatic flare to my writing more than the Indiana Jones theme song or the ever heroic Pirates of the Carribbean soundtrack.

A couple of years ago while writing and listening, I became mesmorized by a hauntingly beautiful piece for solo piano that I had never heard before. I was immediately surprised to learn it was a solo arrangement of a piece from the movie “Anastasia.” Although I have always preferred to learn pieces within the standard piano repertoire, this particular piece spoke to me. Despite its exclusion from the criteria I typically place on the pieces I work so hard to learn, I absolutely had to get this piece under my fingers!

Which brings me to my next piano practice tip. What’s the point of exerting hours of effort into learning a piece if you don’t absolutely love it?

Look for pieces which are fun, speak to you on a deeper level, or inspire you to practice. Selecting pieces based solely on technical difficulty or because you think it’s “what you should be playing” is a road to burnout. Instead, find those pieces you can’t wait to get back and work on. At its very core, music is the expression of emotion. If you keep this idea central, you will undoubtedly succeed.

Improve Through Listening

“When you play, never mind who listens to you.”

Robert Schumann

Have you ever had one of those moments when something you say to another person is completely misunderstood? Perhaps you meant to express a different thought. Or maybe you conveyed exactly what you meant however the other person took it the wrong way. Either way, there was a disconnect.

Similar to a conversational disconnect is that which can occur when you play without truly listening to the music you’re creating. And yet, simultaneous playing and objective listening is nearly impossible. Artful expression of emotion through the piano demands your complete attention and not the type of mental chatter which occurs with objective analysis. And yet, there can be no improvement if you are unable to objectively assess your playing.

My next piano practice tip to advance your playing is to record yourself.

Incorporate Recording Into Your Piano Practice

Consistently recording yourself has so many benefits beyond simply obtaining the ability to objectively listen to yourself. One of the biggest is that you can track your progress over time. I find it incredibly inspiring to be able to listen to something recorded a year ago and hear improvement in my playing.

Recording yourself also gives solid evidence of your playing. I have often found that I tend to get in my own head about my playing and am too critical. When I play back the recording, I can immediately find positive and redeeming qualities in the music. For example, the note I missed in measure 17 is insignificant in comparison to the emotion expressed in the passage. Recording is useful if for no other reason than to provide objective feedback. It combats the criticisms our minds are sometimes too quick to throw back at us!

I have experimented with a few different recording modalities but this one is by far my favorite! This microphone plugs right into your computer and requires no complicated set-up. Simply plug it in and start playing! The sound quality is absolutely amazing and the price is very reasonable. Maximize recording quality by plugging headphones into the microphone itself. After figuring out this tip I couldn’t be happier with the quality!

You can listen to one of my recordings using this microphone here.

Piano Practice Resources

“You may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

Maya Angelou

For a long time, I felt stuck in my playing. I was not practicing on a regular basis. I also did not feel I was making progress on the pieces I was practicing. My attitude toward piano took a negative turn. I began to believe I wasn’t making progress because I simply wasn’t talented enough. And to top it off, anxiety overwhelmed me each and every time I played in public. All in all, the joy that I had previously found in playing piano was gone.

And then one day I realized that staying stuck was my choice. I could choose to remain in this headspace of negativity. Or I could find resources to help me move past where I felt stuck.

I chose the latter.

And do you know what? There are some amazing resources out there! Resources to help with anything from motivation in the advancement of your playing to improvement of piano technique. There are resources to help you practice more effectively and resources to help with creating your own music-based business. The number of resources waiting for you is absolutely astounding!

From podcasts to blogs to membership sites, there are so many resources out there! Here are the two which I have found most helpful:

The Inner Game of Music gives a different approach to tackling performance anxiety. Adapted from a book originally written for athletes, its timeless wisdom is simple yet highly effective. This book has given me an entirely different perspective on how to approach any performance situation. If you’re struggling with anxiety in your piano playing, I highly recommend this incredibly helpful resource!

Break Through Anxiety

And speaking of anxiety … this next piano practice resource is not music-related per se but nonetheless highly relevant. Headspace is an app which guides you through the practice of meditation. After realizing that anxiety was somewhat prevalent in my life and unfortunately not strictly limited to my piano playing, I began searching for solutions. Meditation was a modality which kept popping up throughout my research.

Although meditation has been practiced around the world for centuries to improve the mind-body connection, it is only recently that research has started to support its efficacy. Multiple studies have supported its ability to ease anxiety, depression, and even symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Meditation is also generally considered safe for most people and unlike medications, doesn’t come with pages and pages of side effects.

I have been using the Headspace app for a couple of months now and saw an immediate decrease in anxiety levels. For the first time in ages, I felt like I was able to push anxious thoughts aside and find a place of calm in my mind. It has helped me have a more positive outlook and enabled me to think beyond the anxiety of the moment. I wholeheartedly recommend this app whether you are looking to tame stage fright nerves or the stubbornly anxious thoughts of everyday life.

As much as I love and have seen a difference from this app, please do not hesitate to see your primary care provider if you are struggling with anxiety and depression. There is help out there!

Motivation and Piano Practice

“Your talent determines what you can do. It is your motivation that determines how much you are willing to do. Your attitude determines how well you do it.

Lou Holtz

For the longest time, I felt that a lack of motivation was holding me back in the practice room. I never felt like practicing and therefore equated this with a lack of motivation.

I once believed that motivation was required to start or make progress toward a particular goal. In my mind, motivation was a strong feeling which translated into action. Similar to the key which starts a car engine, I believed that motivation was required to pursue a goal.

In actuality, motivation is more an action than a feeling. Motivation comes from doing and if you wait until you feel like doing something, it will almost never happen. It’s very much a snowball effect in that the more you do, the more you feel like doing. But you need to take a step forward first.

My Secret for Improved Consistency

The modacity app has been pivotal in motivating me to take steps toward consistent piano practice. Designed by a musician, the app has incredible features which promote excellent practice habits. The app allows you to create practice playlists and input all the pieces you’re currently working on. When it’s time to practice, simply select the piece. A timer then automatically starts for you, adding up your total practice time. You can also put the amount of time you want to work on a particular piece in and it will alert you when your time is up. This is a great feature if you tend to lose track of time while practicing.

Modacity also has a built-in tuner and metronome. The metronome has the capability to capture subdivisions of the beat as well, a great feature when working on tricky rhythms. My all-time favorite feature however is that it keeps track of how many days in a row you’ve practiced. It also tells you how many hours of practice you’ve put in. I absolutely love seeing the hours and days add up! I also find huge motivation in being able to check off another piano practice session!

It’s Your Turn

The higher pursuit of any art requires incredible attention to detail and piano is no exception. Mastering the piano requires creativity and problem-solving. The daily challenge of figuring out something entirely new in the journey toward becoming a better pianist is what truly appeals to me.

Although there is always something to improve upon, it’s also important to stop and celebrate your successes along the way! Sometimes we get so focused on improving that we forget to look for the small wins. Wins such as mastering a tricky passage or learning to play with a greater sense of relaxation. Logging another day of practice is a win in and of itself as it means you’re saying “yes” to your goals.

Now get out there and try out a few of these piano practice tips for yourself! Don’t forget to leave a comment below about what you’re working on and which tip has been most helpful!