When you sign up for piano lessons in West Chester, PA or even just consider it, you might ask yourself how long it will take to learn the piano. Everyone is different, and every player starts at a different place because of their previous knowledge, age, and goals.
As you read through this blog, remember that you should have a year-to-year list of goals. While you might think a year is a long time, you must give yourself time to improve, check your goals, adjust your practice regimen, and continue.
Parents who are signing their kids up for piano lessons must watch carefully because every child takes to the piano differently. You can have basic goals in your head, but you must be realistic because most children are not Evgeny Kissin.
Check Your Goals
You should have goals in mind. If you are signing your child up for piano lessons, make sure that you give them time to grow. In the first year, children learn all the basics of music reading, theory, Middle C Position, easy scales, posture and hand position, and the like. In essence, they are learning their way around the piano.
Kids will play extremely basic songs, and they can play basic duets with their teachers. People often say it takes about three years to get comfortable doing anything. As an adult, think of your current job. Imagine how long it took you to get acclimated to a career for which you likely have a college degree, training, certifications, and experience.
Now imagine a kid sitting at a piano with no background in music. Even if you are a musician, they don’t have your experience or know-how. The first year moves slowly, the next year is a little better, and the third year is much more comfortable. Even an adult might feel lost at the piano in the beginning.
At this point, you can check your goals. Some kids like knowing how to play but do not want to be music majors. Others like playing, but want to do something simple like accompany the choir at church. Some kids will want to go into music and play at competitions. As you can see, it took a couple years to make that decision.
Very Young Children May See Slower Progress At First
If you start your child at four years old, unless they are particularly gifted, you shouldn’t expect them to be playing intermediate music in the first 2-3 years. They probably don’t have the drive or discipline to practice in large chunks, and the primary goal is to pique their interest, teach the fundamentals, and set the stage for more rapid progress later.
Children who start at year eight or older, on the other hand, may see more rapid progress in the first year. This is because they are more mature and have more discipline, in theory – so a child starting at age four and a child starting at age eight may end up at the same level by the time they are 13 or so.
How Many Piano Lessons Are Required?
Well, there is no set number of piano lessons that ordains you with the expertise you need to be a great pianist. Piano lessons pile up during the year. If a child goes to piano lessons every week, they will have about 45 lessons when they take time off for vacation, holidays, etc.
Start with weekly lessons. Progress from there. Talk to your teacher. A kid must press forward. They cannot possibly see where they will be tomorrow much less a year from now. An adult (who wants to learn) can ask their teacher how they are progressing. At this point, you can decide how often you need lessons and how much you need to practice.
If you must have a number, consider that it may take three years of weekly lessons before you are playing the music that you had in mind when you first signed up. So it could take roughly 135 lessons before you feel like you are really “playing the piano.”
Now, as an adult, it’s entirely within your power to speed up that time frame by practicing consistently, for longer periods of time, and intelligently!
How Much Will You Learn Year by Year?
Year-to-year learning is easier to manage than week-to-week. You can look at what you were learning when the year began and what you are doing now that the year is over.
In the first year, you learn all the basics and take it slow. You can take it slow in year two, and you can even take it slow in year three.
Some people, however, will start to accelerate their learning in year two. You might discover that your child (or you) has an affinity for the piano. You might need more lessons and more practice time. Your teacher might tell you to take your child to a more advanced teacher for more advanced study. It all depends on how much you or your child is progressing.
By year three, you will know where the piano can take you. Each year, you should plan to learn more and more. Watch your child as they progress through school because they might need a little guidance.
A child in elementary school is learning how the world works. A child in middle school is learning more about themselves. A child in high school is within a hare’s breath of being a legal adult, going to college, and deciding what they want to do for the rest of their life. Measure learning based on where you are in life instead of, “Johnny is in year 4 and should be about to at least play a simple Mozart concerto.” It just doesn’t work like that.
But in a nutshell, the first year is for learning basic note reading, technique, scales, intervals, and such. Year two will progress to more complicated key and time signatures, scales in multiple octaves, and repertoire that involves both hands playing simultaneously (more than just blocked chords in the left hand). Year three – well, that’s mostly up to you or your child’s commitment to practice.
How Many Hours a Day Should You Practice?
Anyone who is learning to play the piano can start with 20-30 minutes a day. That is a fair amount to practice. As with anything else, you practice more as you learn more. This does not mean that you jump from 30 minutes to four hours. It is more like, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour, etc. Allow your practice routine to grow naturally.
However, you kind of already know how to play piano if you are thinking of increasing your practice regimen. You know what you are doing—you’re just not an expert yet, and that’s ok.
A recommendation – fend off burnout and hand tension by breaking your practicing up into chunks of 15-20 minutes (multiple times per day).
Do You Play Another Instrument?
If you play another instrument, you might need to give yourself a little more time. Why? Because single-line instruments (basically everything but piano) only require you to play one note at a time. You press a certain number of buttons or press one spot on a string. The piano requires a lot more of you, and it might take a little longer to get the hang of it.
That is NORMAL. Take your time, and make sure you learn each element that your teacher assigns – “cutting corners” only leads to poor playing in the future.
Sign Up for Piano Lessons Today
Get in touch at your earliest convenience if you want to learn or believe your child will benefit from the piano. After the first year, you will start to feel better. After year two, you will be confident, and after year three, you will be comfortable. Beyond that, the piano will take you as far as you are willing to go – it requires ongoing commitment and practice.