Most articles on Google have told you an answer you're probably irritated of hearing: "It depends."
But we're here to give you a more concrete answer.
And that is...
It should take about one year to learn how to play the piano and achieve solid technique.
After a year of consistent practice, you should be able to play basic piano pieces like Linkin Park "In The End", "The Wild Horses," "Linus & Lucy," "Lean on Me," etc., and reach ABRSM Levels 1 and 2.
The Truth Behind How Long Does It Take to Learn Piano
BUT HERE'S THE CATCH!
- What is your goal with piano playing?
- Who is the instructor you're studying with?
- How many hours a week are you practicing?
- Are you at a beginner or advanced level?
Why are these factors important? Well...
Let's Take a Look At 3 Scenarios
Goal: Jake wants to learn how to play the piano and learn how to play his favorite pop music songs
Instructor level: 1 year of experience
Practice Frequency: Every weekend for 2 hours
Skill Level: Beginner
How long will it take for Jake to learn the piano?
Jake can play his favorite music or songs within 3 to 6 months of consistent practice.
BUT to play the piano with solid technique (good finger strength, dexterity, and adept at reading music) will take more than a year. Or at the very least, 2 years.
With a poor instructor and only 2 days of practice weekly, you can easily LOSE motivation along the way.
You might able to play that favorite Katy Perry piano piece you've always wanted to play, but that's about it.
Struggling to read music notes and poor finger strength only make you feel stuck along the way.
In the end, you'll get bored and lose inspiration to progress further.
Goal: Angela is an adult beginner with the goal of becoming one of the best concert pianists.
Instructor level: 3 years of experience and minimal expertise teaching adults
Practice Frequency: Every other day for 1 hour
Skill Level: Beginner
How long will it take for Angela to learn the piano?
It will take roughly 15 to 20 years before Angela can grab hold of the stars.
The reason why?
For one, Angela's instructor is not experienced in teaching adults how to play the piano.
Even though Angela is diligent and consistent with music school tasks be it practicing every day or the amount of effort she puts in, piano teachers play a significant role.
The RIGHT piano teacher will help you
- Develop good habits
- Teach you the right way and proper technique; and
- Guide you when sessions or piano practice becomes hard
No matter how diligent you are, without the right instructor or hand to guide you, this prevents you from succeeding greatly.
Goal: Carlos wants to become a concert pianist
Instructor level: Fantastic teacher with years of experience who knows how to guide piano students thoroughly
Practice Frequency: 1 hour daily or sometimes more
Skill Level: Beginner
How long will it take for Carlos to learn the piano?
Scenario 3 is the greatest recipe for success because not only does Carlos have a fantastic teacher to guide him through piano lessons, but combined with diligent practice, this sets you on a much better path to achieving greatness.
Here's Why: The Time It Takes to Learn Piano Depends on What Your Goal Is
Piano lessons aren't enough if your goals are to play epic music pieces like Chopin's Scherzo or Rachmaninoff's Concerto #3 fluently.
The same goes for music pieces like Mozart and Einaudi.
Just look at the legendary Ignaz Friedman - a brilliant pianist nearly a century ago.
When asked how he was able to comfortably play a short Chopin piece brilliantly, he said he played the piece 5,000 TIMES before he had the courage to play it on stage.
If your only objective is to learn to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars or Itsy Bitsy Spider, I guarantee you'll be able to do so within a day's worth of practice.
Some people might say they want to learn to play piano for pleasure. And that's fine. With daily practice or training, learning how to play piano can take you between a year or two.
But what exactly do you want to play for pleasure? And how great do you want to play a certain song or piece?
Depending on what your answer is to your questions will give you a specific timeline on learning how to play piano.
What if your ultimate GOAL is to play classical music greats fluently?
Then... practicing each lesson and song repetitively for 20+ years and daily for 5 to 12 hours is a must to reach brilliance.
If these are your goals, dedication and serious commitment are key qualities students should have.
Playing classical greats takes patience...the same way speaking a foreign language fluently takes immense dedication, progress, and immersing yourself in that country.
If you want to understand the reasons behind this slow yet rewarding fulfillment of playing the piano instrument, I'll dive deeper below into key factors or things that affect the overall process.
Key Factors That Affect the Time It Takes to Learn Piano
Who You Hire as a Teacher/Instructor
Time shouldn't be your only concern.
Something to consider GREATLY is who you hire as your teacher.
You can't simply WING this decision the same way you wing other areas in life like choosing between oreo or strawberry cheesecake.
Your teacher is an inevitable hand to guide you from music theory and the instrument itself down to the proper order of how to learn each note.
If you learn bad habits and poor techniques along the way, playing complex pieces later on will leave you in a serious pickle.
Every successful pianist knows that their skill level is as valuable as the guidance they receive.
A great mentor can go a long way in your lessons, your skill level, how to read sheet music, and life in general.
Rushing to Play Complex Pieces
This is a question students tend to ask or should I say, extraordinary requests that DO NOT get you anywhere other than failure and despair.
One simple reason: Impatience is the secret ingredient to failure.
You demand to learn how to play Chopin's Scherzo and in the first week, you struggle to read the notes.
In the second week, you can't hit all sixteen notes and get frustrated with your progress.
In the third week, your hand-eye coordination is a mess and you've blown everything into proportion.
And in the end, you give up.
Remember: no one ever became great at what they do by being impatient.
Slow growth is what you should be after. Slow and steady teaches you how to hit all the fundamentals right and it's much more rewarding.
Thinking Learning How to Play Piano Is a Destination to Reach
There is no magic trick to achieving the ULTIMATE skill level.
It's a question many people ask impatiently: "How long will it take for me to get there?"
What most people don't understand is the destination can sometimes be an illusion to a rabbit hole of never feeling contented.
Most of the time, you'll keep thinking about the destination and forget the beauty is in the journey of learning the course itself.
Live for the journey, not the end.
Not Accepting Setbacks and Constantly Comparing Yourself to Others
A lot of people hurt themselves by comparing themselves to others.
It's human, but that doesn't mean it's healthy.
Comparing yourself to others only shows you one side of someone else's life be it another student or even your teacher.
You don't fully see their struggles, their failures, their regrets, or the pain throughout time.
Learning any skill has its fair share of lessons and setbacks.
Failures don't define the person. They define the action.
With time, actions can be corrected and improved. No matter how great one person can be, this is not to say mistakes, challenges, or setbacks disappear.
Forgetting that Music is a Balance of Hardwork and Fun
After enough lessons and winning your first piano competition, you might burst into trying to win every competition and drown yourself in hard work.
Although it's admirable to be driven and committed, there is also a time for rest and playing pieces or songs solely to soothe your ears and mind.
Don't let greed or power consume your goals.
A lot of people fall into this trap of flying too high too quickly... Just like Icarus.
Although the sun may be your ultimate dream, don't forget it's okay to pause from time to time and enjoy the blueness and breeze of the clouds.
Is It Harder to Learn Piano When You're Older?
It's much harder to learn a new skill as an adult than children do.
Children absorb information like a sponge or as science calls it - plasticity. However, this doesn't mean adults are incapable of such things.
Something like learning a new language or a new skill takes more time when you're older, but it's also not impossible.
How Long Does It Take to Learn a Piano Piece?
The answer to this question is it depends.
Technical, complex songs require longer hours of practice to perfect.
For example, Brahms' Op. 119, Bach English Suite No. 3, or Elliott Carter's Sonata takes several years to learn, perfect, and play fluently.
For relatively easier classical songs like Fur Elise or Clair de Lune, this can take 2 to 3 months with consistent daily practice.
How Many Hours Should I Practice Everyday?
For a child, 15 to 20 minutes a day should be sufficient.
For adults, beginners should start with at least 45 minutes to 1 hour every day. As you progress into an advanced pianist, this can stretch between 2 to 5 hours every day.
Finale Question: Does Learning Piano Get Any Easier?
With the right instructor, diligent practice, and a passion for the art, learning piano can be an easy, fun experience.
Even with all the right elements, playing the piano is a skill that takes years to master.
My final advice: Set realistic goals, take each lesson step-by-step, and focus on the journey forward. You can do it!