There is no easy answer to this question, but it’s one I get asked a lot.
It depends a lot on your natural ability and musicality, whether you’re working with a teacher who’s “in tune” with you (forgive the pun), and, most importantly, how much time and effort you put into your practice sessions.
Another crucial question that affects the answer is, “What kind of music do you want to play on the piano?”
If your aim is to play a concerto with an orchestra, you can probably assume the answer is “at least 10 years”.
While, if you want to be able to play chords and sing some Beatles songs, the answer might be “About one to two months”.
Choose Your Path
So, the first step is to decide what type of pianist you want to be.
If you’re starting from scratch and you want to be able to play the classics such as Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, etc. then you’re looking at a significant time commitment.
It will involve regular weekly lessons with the best teacher you can find and daily practice sessions of at least an hour. You would need to quickly build up to two to three hours from there.
With all of that in place, and assuming you have some talent, I would say you’d be looking at about six months before you can start to play some of the easier classics well.
Bach’s Prelude Number 1 in C major from the Well-tempered Clavier, for instance, isn’t as hard as it sounds because no two notes are ever played at the same time.
But for it to sound good, your musicality needs to shine through.
A Word About Online Piano Lessons
Taking online piano lessons is a good way to learn. You can find reviews for various piano lessons at Pickmypiano.com. But I recommend considering them only if you are not planning to perform serious music.
Usually, these online courses are pre-recorded video lessons to help you play a song (a specific song chosen by the course teacher).
Often the topics are good enough to start and are built in correct order from the most simple to more complex, but of course they won’t cover everything “in 30 lessons” as some promise.
And, the most important thing – you can rarely get feedback from the teacher, which is critical for your ongoing development. Technique often needs to be corrected, and, without the help of the instructor, this can prove challenging (how can you correct it if you think you’re doing it right?).
What is Musicality?
Musicality means many things. Music is built on the foundational pillars of rhythm, melody and harmony, and while many can learn to play passages rote and robotically, learning to play them with soul and flavor is what makes the music come alive.
Musicality includes “interpreting” the music in an advanced way.
When we play music, we pepper it with emotion – mostly achieved by making some notes louder or softer than the other notes (dynamics) and sometimes manipulating the pulse of the music so that it sounds more expressive.
This is something that often comes naturally from a talented musician, but without the help of a teacher, it can be tough to unlock. This is an important skill to develop continually.
The Easiest Way to Begin Learning Piano
If you want to play chords and sing pop songs, you can achieve this relatively quickly.
You would focus on learning all the basic chords, then more advanced chords (7th, diminished, suspended 4ths and such). Because the chords all follow a similar pattern, this isn’t a monumental undertaking.
If you don’t have much time to practice, this is an efficient way to learn the piano, especially if you are mathematically minded.
It also helps that pop songs are far simpler in their construct and far more repetitive than classical music.
You can also “fake it” a bit with pop songs, which means you don’t have to be a perfectionist to play. When you learn classical music, every note is important and mistakes are far more obvious.
The Wrong Way (Still Works for Some)
When I first saw my friend performing boogie-woogie in a video, I was surprised that he could play so good. I was wondering how someone could play such beautiful chords without any education.
The answer turned out to be easy: he recorded his teacher’s performance on video and played precisely every note and chord the same way his teacher did.
Of course, it took him a long time to remember when and how each chord was played. But after he achieved this, he sounded almost like his teacher (I’m not talking about musicality – that’s another story). The problem was that he couldn’t play anything besides the pieces he learned.
So, if you’re thinking of learning the piano or you’re already on that path, make sure you define what you want to play well before you put time into practicing.
Then make a plan with an approximate date by which you want to be able to play a specific song, and you’ll get to your goal.
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- How Long Does it Take to Become Good at the Piano? - April 14, 2020