Learning the Piano as an Adult
You can play the piano as an adult beginner! I'm going to give you all the encouragement you need to do what you've always wanted, play a musical instrument. Look at that piano. Isn't it just inviting you to have a go? If you have lots of determination you will succeed.
Have a Go: Beginning to Play the Piano
Enthusiasm is more important than talent. Get to that piano and have a go. In the middle of the keyboard, that's all those black and white keys, find two black keys in a group. No, not three in a group. To the left of the two black keys is a white key. This is middle C. Put the outer side of your right hand thumb on middle C. Next, having firmly pressed down middle C, use your thumb as a hammer, then use your next finger to press down the next note. This is D.
Guess what your next finger presses, E. Next comes F, then G is played with the last two fingers. If you play up and down these notes, you are playing a five-finger exercise. Now put your left-hand thumb on that same middle C and, moving in a mirror of the first exercise, move down to B, A, G and F. You can now use both hands together. Place your two thumbs so they are sharing middle C, then move outwards to your second fingers, then the third, then the fourth, then the fifth, and then back again till you reach the C again.
Now just experiment playing anything and listening to the sounds you make. A book may help you, or you may find you can make progress just "playing by ear." Whichever suits you, the secret is to practise, practise, practise. The most important thing a teacher can say to you is,"Just play that again." Good luck.
Hints for Playing the Piano
It is important to use your hands correctly from the start. You will then have better progress and enjoy playing more
Advice for a Beginning Piano Player Who Has Made Some Progress
You might find a friend who is at the same level and play duets together. This is great fun. You need to start with very simple duets. Often Christmas carols are arranged as duets.
When you have mastered this find someone who plays a melody instrument, like a flute or a violin. They will be thrilled to have someone accompany them. You will need to thoroughly practise your part as keeping in time with someone else takes a bit of getting used to. The secret is for you both to count the beats of the bar. If you can do this out loud while you play your piano part it will be a great help both to you and the other player. This will give you hours of fun and your playing will improve enormously.
Once you have mastered this you may find a small church with a need for a pianist to accompany the hymn singing. You could begin by playing just the tune. Then progress to playing the tune and the bass. You need to practise this thoroughly. You can usually find out what tunes are needed on the Wednesday before the Sunday service. You can make it a stipulation that this is so if you are to play.
You need to be aware of the tunes which are known to the congregation. You need to take on board how many verses are being sung, however if you glance at the congregation when you think it is the last verse you should find that they are all closing their books, so if you are not sure that is a way to tell. Also look out for tunes that have a line repeated. Give the congregation a clear first line at the start to make them aware of the tune being used. Do not panic about mistakes. the congregation are only too pleased to have your help.
Scales for the Adult Piano Learner
Why is it important to learn your scales and learn them well? Scales along with arpeggios are the building blocks of playing. Most music is made up of bits of scales and arpeggios. So if you learn them well sight reading a piece will be easier. Although in Britain your are required to learn your scales off by heart you also need to read them if they are to benefit your sight reading.
Fingering the scales correctly will get you into good habits and when sight reading your fingers will fall naturally on the notes without fumbling for a suitable fingering. It can be great fun to play scales and enjoyable to progress in speed and eveness. You will enhance your playing greatly if you put in the effort to play scales well.
How to Tackle a New Piece; Practising
When you tackle a new piece on the piano, you need to take one hand at a time. It is not a good idea to play both hands and struggle right through the piece. Always break things down into small sections and practise each little bit over and over. Gradually join the bits together. You must remember to practise the left hand too, just as much as the right hand. when you are thoroughly familiar with both hands you can begin to put the hands together. This may all seem rather laborious but it is the quickest way to learn a new piece.
Any passages where you go wrong need more work on them. You should start just before the problem area and carry on through to the next section. If you do this you will soon eliminate the problem areas. Practising is like hacking your way through a jungle, the more you do it the more there is a clear pathway in your brain. If you don't practise, the jungle starts to grow up again. Set aside a regular time for practise. It is actually better to do a regular small amount than it is to do a long session once a week.Best wishes with your playing.
You're Not Too Old to Be an Adult Piano Beginner!
Don't answer that question, but listen to this. I have a pupil who is in his seventies. Ten years ago he began lessons on the piano with me. At that point he could remember how to play the right hand notes from way back when he was eleven, but he couldn't read the left. Now he plays Debussy and Mozart and Tchaikovsky and Chopin.
He really enjoys it. I'm not saying he could go to Carnegie Hall but he gets such pleasure from it. His secret is commitment, a sympathetic teacher and practice, practice, practice. Guess which is the most important. He often practises for 2 hours a day, but if you want to make reasonable progress half an hour will do to start with. That half hour could usefully be split into three, ten minute sessions.
You could get an easy book like the ones I've suggested and work at it yourself, but the encouragement of the right teacher would be a tremendous help. Don't be put off if the first teacher you try is not suitable. However if you explain what you want to do at the beginning you will probably put off the wrong sort. It may be an idea to find a youngster who wants to practice teaching .
If playing the piano is something you have always wanted to do, take the plunge, who knows how far you will get and what enjoyment you will have. Don't put it off, do it today.
Natural Talent Is Not Necessary for an Adult to Learn Piano
Don't worry about talent. The ability to stick with something, to keep going against the odds is far more important than talent. There are plenty of people out there with talent, but what have they done with it? Nothing. If you are prepared to work hard, and practise, practise, practise you will get huge enjoyment from your improvement.
But increase the practise slowly or you will knot your fingers up. Start with ten minutes a day, or three sessions of ten minutes a day and gradually increase to half an hour a day. Remember there is no question of your getting to the Juilliard; this is strictly for pleasure. No one may ever want to listen to you play, except you, but that is what it is all about, your own satisfaction in progress.
You won't become a Concert Pianist
Just as you would not expect to learn to play tennis as an adult and become champion at Wimbledon; so you cannot expect to become a concert pianist having started now. However you can have a lot of fun and your appreciation of the concert pianist will be enhanced, because you know something of the difficulties they have faced and over come. Measure your success by the progress you make not with comparing yourself to others.
How About Playing for Small Children or the Elderly?
A pre-school or kindergarten would be pleased to have you play for them on the piano. You need to play with a strong rhythm for children to dance or move to your music. It would be good to re-introduce some old nursery rhyme tunes as these are part of our heritage but are being lost, no longer sung. The children could also play percussion instruments with your playing as a solid background. If you can sing along as well this would be good.
At the other end of the age range elderly people would enjoy your playing. They would enjoy a singalong with both golden oldies and slightly newer songs. The elderly in residential homes enjoy this because apart from the music it is the chance to see a different face.
If you are feeling confident try accompanying a melody instrument, such as the violin or flute. So long as you are prepared to be patient with each other you should have lots of fun. You have an advantage here because the melody line is shown above your music, but the melody instrument has just their own part. So you can see where they should fit in with you.
Guide to Buying a Piano for the Adult Learner
Let's start at the bottom of the money scale. You can get keyboards fairly cheaply. They vary. I think they are better if they have a piano touch. An old fashioned piano can be cumbersome and it needs tuning every six months and varies with the weather.
I have a Yamaha Clavinova which is electrical, has complete piano touch and sounds wonderful and the big plus is that if you live near other folks it doesn't matter because you can use headphones and they'll never even know you play. Then when you've made some progress you can surprise them.
The only draw back with digital pianos is that they do not keep their value as there are always new and more wonderful models being brought out, but if you are happy with the sound yours makes and don't intend to sell, there is no problem.
Real pianos, acoustic pianos do have a special sound of their own, but digital pianos have their advantages. They do not take up some much space and are easier to move. The narrow stairs leading to my apartment would preclude my having an acoustic piano. A digital piano would be ideal for a student in a shared room. They would be able to practise using head phones without disturbing their roommate.
Success for an Adult Piano Learner in 2010
I have a lovely adult pupil who is about forty. She has just passed grade 5 piano exam with the Associated Board of the Royal schools of Music. This is a big triumph as she was terribly nervous in the exam. She is going to get advice about this to see if it can be managed better. This is a big problem for some people, probably more with adults than children. However this is a big success. Grade 5 is quite a tough exam and is treated as a serious landmark. We now have to study music theory and pass an exam in that before we can go on to Grade 6. This lady started lessons with me from scratch with very little previous experience of music making. Proof positive that adults can make good progress. Well done Rachel.,