Is Learning The Piano Harder For Adults Than Children?

Learning to play the piano and signing up for piano lessons in West Chester is a great idea for kids and adults. However, adults might feel like learning to play the piano is too difficult, it is too late, or they just do not have the neuroplasticity required to learn an instrument or to read music. This could not be further from the truth.

Is it harder for adults to learn to play piano? Yes and no – and there are a few things you must consider. You might want to learn during your retirement, learn as a pastime, or learn because you are a musician who never had time to try piano in the past. Read through each step and remember that anyone can learn to play if they are determined and disciplined.

Musculature Issues

Musculature and tendon issues can be a problem for adults. Kids have not spent a life working, raising kids, driving, being active, or suffered the injuries that most adults have suffered. Therefore, your body is not nearly as flexible or ready to engage in the proper technique you need to play piano.

Sure, a piano teacher can tell you to keep your wrists neutral and your hands relaxed to achieve the best technique—that is not always possible if you have arthritis, nagging seasonal pain, or other lingering muscle and tendon damage. You may even have a hard time sitting up straight because you threw out your back a few years ago. Just keep this in mind when you start playing. You may need to cut back on your practice time to avoid pain or discomfort. In extreme cases, speak to your doctor about caring for your body and learning an instrument.

In short, you may have to “unlearn” some bad habits related to posture, hand position, and tension. Children have the advantage here because they haven’t internalized these bad habits, but don’t worry – a qualified teacher will help you play comfortably and healthfully if you’re willing to work on it.

Adults are Motivated

Adults, on the other hand, are motivated and can make time to practice. Adults want to learn because they have specific dreams and goals. They know what they want out of the piano, and they are willing to do what needs to be done to get those results.  Maybe you want to play tunes from the Great American Songbook, play Chopin, learn to sight read, or share Christmas music with your family. These are all concrete goals that you will be motivated to pursue. Furthermore, it can be hard to predict how long it will take you to learn the piano, since your own motivation is the main variable.

While kids need a little prodding to set up a practice routine, adults can get in there and start working. This makes it much easier to learn quickly even if you have deficiencies that kids do not suffer from. All told, motivation and discipline are FAR more valuable than talent or potential.

Adults Can Guide Their Own Learning

Adults know how to guide their own learning. When you drop a piano method in front of an adult, they can follow it carefully because they are an adult reading a text written by an adult. Kids, even if they are brilliant, are still using a text written by an adult. It is more difficult for them to guide their own learning because they do not have a background in music or life experience to make this part of the process easier. In short, an adult will be able to select his or her own classical piano music, learn the notes, practice the fingerings, and play it, all without guidance.

Conceptual Learning is Easier

Conceptual learning is easier for adults because they can see the “big picture” of the concepts they need to know. For example, an adult can see how they would move from Middle C position to D position and so forth as they learn to traverse the piano and play arpeggios and such. They are simply picking up what they learned and moving a whole step. Kids often see changes like this as a complete upheaval of what they have learned. 

Concepts in a piano method make sense to adults because they have helped their kids learn concepts, they are already musicians, or they teach concepts to adults all day long.

Neuroplasticity Might be Lower

Neuroplasticity for an adult might be lower. Why? Adults are set in their ways and have a difficult time changing. This is normal. You worked really hard to get to where you are in life, and doing this weird thing where both hands do something different and you press one of three pedals while also reading music is strange. 

If you are not a musician, you are also learning to read music. You start to listen to music differently, and it changes your whole way of thinking about the world. A kid does not think this way. They simply learn and move on.

Discipline is Higher, but Life is Complicated

In spite of these difficulties, you are disciplined. You can set aside time to practice every day, and you have power over your schedule. Life happens every now and then, and you might miss some practice sessions. However, as mentioned above, you are an adult who can get back on track easily. Kids who are taken out of their daily routine lose momentum much faster.

Sign Up for Adult Piano Lessons Today

Learning the piano is a wonderful and rewarding addition to anyone’s life, and despite what you may think, it’s not too late by any means. For every disadvantage that an adult student may have, there is an equal advantage – so don’t watch YouTube videos of child prodigies and get discouraged. If you have any questions about what your goals should be or whether or not you can really learn the piano, please feel free to reach out – I’d be happy to speak with you.