Learning to play the piano is a dream for most aspiring musicians. The subtleties and the beauty of this instrument are appreciated by nearly everyone. However, the learning curve can be a little steep and challenging, especially for beginners.
A piano journey starts with learning basic musical theory, as this will be essential to understand the instrument. Then, the aspiring pianist must learn how to read music and practice frequently to sharpen his/her skills.
In this article, we will answer how long does it take to learn piano, as well as cover some of the ways you can streamline the process and master it in less time.
Related: If you want to learn the piano, make sure you check our How to Play Piano article to learn the practical first steps and start playing today!
Steps to Learn the Piano
First, we are going to cover the basic steps every pianist will pass through on their piano journey. This will help you understand the process better and plan ahead.
- Learning Basic Music Theory
One of the first things any aspiring player will need to learn is musical theory. It’s important to know, for example, what are octaves and how chords and scales work. This will make the first contact with the instrument much better.
Of course, practice helps a lot when dealing with theory. So beginners shouldn’t worry too much if they can’t get a firm grasp on the concepts at first. Things will get clearer once you start to play the piano.
- Understanding How the Piano Keyboard Works
This is a step that is usually overlooked, but any musician should know how his/her instrument works. When most people look at a piano keyboard, all they see are endless black and white keys that don’t seem to have any relation to each other.
But take a better look at it and you will see that they actually follow a pattern. If you find the middle C and count eight white keys above it, you will end up at the same note, one octave above it. This will work with any other note.
So all these eight keys in-between these two make an octave, in this case on the C major scale. Pianists use this pattern to find themselves on the instrument’s keyboard and make the process much easier.
- Learning to Read Sheet Music
Early on, the musician will learn how to read music. This skill is extremely important to learn because most classical and many modern pieces are written that way. Through the different pitches and notations, musicians will be able to play a song without having ever listened to it. Even though the sheets look complex, it gets easier when you understand how it works.
- Take Frequent Piano Lessons
From aspiring to professional players, every pianist should take frequent piano lessons to improve their skills and constantly learn new things. The lesson contents will highly depend on the skill level of the musician, so a piano teacher will be the best person to give you personal guidance.
Don’t worry if you’re a newcomer though: you should be able to play songs and easy arrangements after only a few lessons.
- Practice Constantly
Last but not least, no matter what your level of knowledge is, you should practice constantly. Practicing will improve your abilities and keep your finger strength in check. If you’re a new player, the more you do it, the faster you will see progress.
What Are the Different Piano Playing Levels?
There are different piano playing levels we must consider to answer how long does it take to learn piano. We can divide them into four categories:
- Beginner Level
- Intermediate Level
- Professional Level
- Expert Level
How Long Does it Take to Reach Beginner Level?
This is a level that will highly vary according to each person’s musical background and how frequently they can practice, but aspiring pianists should expect this level of piano playing in 6 to 12 months.
A starting pianist is expected to know the basic theory, how to read notes and musical notations and play simple pieces and popular songs on the instrument.
How Long Does it Take to Reach Intermediate Level?
Most pianists will reach an intermediate level after two years of playing piano. At this level, most musicians start learning classical and more complex pieces, something that can make the process of reaching the next level more lengthy.
How Long Does it Take to Reach Professional Level?
The gap between the intermediate and professional levels is a bit longer. It is expected to take four to five years for the musician to reach this level. He/she then will be expected to be an expert on musical theory and know how to play complex pieces very well.
How Long Does it Take to Reach Expert Level?
The expert level is where most concert pianists and highly talented musicians are. Expert level is usually reached after ten to fifteen years of playing piano. That is why many virtuoso players start at an early age, even though adults can still reach that level and master the instrument.
How Long Does it Take to Learn Piano for Adults?
Many adult beginners may feel insecure when they start studying the instrument. One reason for this is that many talented pianists seem to have started playing the piano from a very early age. Plus, most of us live busy lives which impact practice time.
However, the age-related thing is largely a myth. It is widely accepted that in music age has little impact on a person’s overall capability. How long it will take to learn to play the piano for a beginner adult will largely depend on how much time they have to dedicate to the instrument daily.
As said before, we can expect the time frame to reach the beginner’s level to be 6 to 12 months. The adult beginner should be able to play simple pieces and popular songs, however, after a few weeks of piano lessons.
How Many Hours a Day Should You Practice Piano?
Nowadays, we all live busy lives, and sometimes it is hard to find practice time, especially if you’re playing the piano as a hobby. We can put the average piano practice time between 30 minutes and 5 hours.
We should note, however, that your practice time must be well-planned to achieve great results. Mindless or mechanical practice won’t cut it. Take a few minutes to decide what is the goal of each session, as well as set a long-term goal for yourself.
How Can I Find a Professional Piano Teacher?
You can usually find a professional piano teacher in your area by keeping an eye on classified ads or on social media. Those living in the United States can check the Music Teachers National Association official website. Just click on the find a teacher and you will be asked for your address, city, state, and ZIP code to find a nearby piano teacher.
How Can I Find an Online Piano Course?
The internet comes in handy to learn piano nowadays. You can find online piano courses on websites like Udemy and Skillshare. You can also learn more about specific courses and online tools for students on our How to Play Piano article.
How Much Does it Cost to Learn Piano?
When talking about lessons, the average cost for one-hour piano lessons in the United States is $60. If you opt for shorter, 30-minutes sessions, the average cost can fall between $15 to $40. Pricing will highly depend on your location demand and the teacher’s expertise.
Additional costs may apply, such as:
- What kind of piano you want to buy for your home practicing sessions. We recommend a digital piano for those short on space or on a budget. If going the traditional route, check our How Much Does a Baby Grand Piano Cost to have a price idea.
- Tuning and maintenance costs if you opt for an upright or grand model. Check out our How Much Does it Cost to Tune a Piano to learn all the costs related.
How Many Piano Lessons Should I Take Weekly?
It is recommended that piano students take piano lessons at least once or twice a week. If you don’t have the time, it is possible to do it twice a month, but this may impact your progress considerably.
Regardless of the frequency of the piano lessons, the most important thing is that the pianist commits to practice frequently between guided sessions.
Can I Teach Myself Piano?
With the advancements in technology, we have seen a constant rise in the number of mobile apps, gadgets, and youtube videos that aim to aid students to learn the instrument by themselves.
It is totally possible to teach yourself to play the piano. There is endless content on the internet that will help you learn songs. Try starting with popular music, as these will be more friendly for new players.
If taking this approach, your progress may be a little slower than someone that is getting traditional education. Consider finding a music school or an experienced teacher for a few piano lessons if you want to streamline the process.
Is It Hard to Learn the Piano?
Learning piano can be as hard or as easy as learning any other musical instrument. A few extra perks like having a previous musical background or starting at a young age will help you a little bit. But any person with determination to practice frequently and patience to learn is capable of it. So there is no real answer to this question.
Can I Learn Piano in 6 months?
As stated before, how long it will take to learn how to play piano will vary for each person. But at the 6 months mark, with a lot of practice time and dedication, the student should achieve beginner level. Therefore he/she will be able to play simple pieces and a lot of songs from popular music, so yes, it is possible to learn to play the piano in 6 months.
Tips for Learning Piano Faster
Here are some tips to help you learn to play piano faster and streamline your learning process.
- Find a reputable teacher. If possible, talk to his/her students and see what they have to say about the professional.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of learning theory beforehand.
- Practice frequently at home. If you don’t have the space to buy a full-sized instrument or it is out of your budget, consider buying a digital piano.
- Establish a clear goal for each practicing session. Don’t just mindlessly go through your practice time.
- Aim for a happy practicing time. Having fun in the process is the most important thing!
Today, we answered how long does it take to learn piano. As well as all the costs related to it, how to find a professional teacher in your area, and how you can make your piano learning more effective so you can streamline the process.
We can conclude that it takes an average of 6 to 12 months for a student to play the piano on a basic level. This time frame may vary according to each person’s disponibility to practice and the frequency of their piano lessons.
It is recommended that those who are starting out keep their practice time at around one hour per day and have a clearly defined goal of what they are looking to achieve with each piano playing session.
Last but not least, find a reputable teacher if you’re going the traditional education route. If you’re looking to be a self-learner, plan your sessions very carefully and make sure to use the right tools to help you.Do you have any more input, tips, or questions on how long does it take to learn piano? Make sure to share it with us in the comment section below!