The following article was provided by a guest contributor, Lucas Welter. Being in love with music his whole life, Lucas started the Piano Dreamers blog as the “go-to” place for the most accurate and detailed information about the world of music, and especially pianos! Having worked in a music store for over 7 years, Lucas has found passion in helping others choose the most suitable instrument for them.
We all wish we had learned additional skills when we were children. I always think it would have been wonderful to learn Spanish or to have learned how to cook. After just a few lessons, my mother, who was a wonderful cook, said to me when I was in my teens, “I just can’t do this anymore!” So, while some things never came to us as children, we might be able to learn them now as adults.
If our families couldn’t afford music lessons, maybe we can afford to take them now. The question is, “How badly do you really want to learn to play the piano?”
You really need to buy some type of keyboard or piano to start. When I was growing up, people rented pianos just like they may rent band instruments for school today. When I was in Scotland not long ago, the piano store I passed was advertising rental pianos, because people there couldn’t easily afford to purchase pianos.
In the U.S., a more realistic choice would be to buy a keyboard. Ideally, the keyboard should have at least 76 keys (pianos have 88!). For example, the ever so popular Casio PX-160 digital piano with 88 fully weighted is a great option to get started without breaking the bank. This is truly a small investment compared to an acoustic piano which will cost in the thousands.
Another highly regarded digital piano that has one of the most realistic feel in its price category is the Roland FP-30, which you can get for less than $1000 with the matching stand and a 3-pedal unit.
Why not buy one of those used pianos you see on Craigslist or on your neighborhood bulletin board? Unless your next-door neighbor has a piano and is selling it cheaply, and it is in good condition (recently tuned, no broken keys, etc.), don’t go there.
Tuning a piano in good condition can easily run close to $200 each time, twice a year. An older piano may need work in addition to tuning – and may need to be tuned numerous times. Also, the cost of moving alone could pay for one new keyboard.
Try to figure out your level. Go to your local music store (when it becomes possible) or browse online. Most online sites allow you to open up the book and see the first few pages of a book. You can start by looking at a series such as Piano Adventures. Once you have some idea of your level, it will help you to figure out what to do next. Want to try out some free piano lessons?
Pianonanny.com is free and can get you started back on your piano. Another site that offers 50 free lessons on different levels is Zebra Keys. Need an instructor? There are endless choices including group piano lessons at your local music school that are relatively inexpensive, semi-private lessons with a friend to bring down the cost, or standard private lessons from recommendations, Thumbtack, and your neighborhood electronic bulletin board.
It is not enough to take lessons; you have to do the work. Although piano is rewarding in many ways and is easier to learn than the violin or the clarinet, it does not mean that it is easy. You will be able to play music nearly right away – that is the most wonderful thing about learning piano. But, if you want to make true progress, you will have to practice.
Ideally, it would be great to practice 30 minutes a day. It can be in chunks of time to fit your schedule, and it’s okay to skip up to two days, but if you only have time to practice on one or two days (even if it is for an hour a day), don’t start now!
Piano takes a lot of concentration. It is not just a matter of knowing the notes on the page. You will be learning rhythm, dynamics (how loud or soft a note should be), pedaling, touch, and other techniques. There will be sharps and flats which will not all be marked on your music sheet. If you can just focus completely on your lesson and on your practice, you will improve rapidly.
There are so many good reasons: you want to play some special songs for friends and families; you want to exercise your brain and improve your coordination; your kids have learned how to play, and you’re excited after seeing their progress. So many good reasons. Maybe the only questionable choice is that you want to become a famous concert pianist. If you start as an adult, in most cases, this isn’t a realistic goal. But, if you want to play beautiful music by Beethoven or Mozart or you want to play the latest pop songs, you can do it!
I have taught adults from ages 20 to 93. No matter what age, a student who wants to learn and who practices will learn to play piano. Some students are more musical than others, and sometimes, what I hear from them just sounds like notes – even if they aren't the right notes. But, when they play their pieces, they hear music. And that is all that really matters.
If you enjoyed Lucas' article, please visit his website so that you can learn more. Feel free to follow him on social media or send him an email here.