Learning Piano As An Adult

Lisa Witt  /  Articles / Oct 27

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Have you always dreamt of learning to play piano as an adult? Maybe it was something you were excited for as a kid and never got the chance to pursue? Perhaps a beautiful piece of music has awoken something creative inside you…

Know that it’s never too late. For adults looking to learn the piano, or just get started with something new: this lesson is for you!

I’ve got some helpful pieces of advice to get you started 🤜💥🤛

Lisa’s Advice

💡 Know What You Want To Learn

One of the most exciting parts of learning music as an independent adult is the realization that you are in charge of what, and how, you learn.

You’re playing piano because you want to, not because your parents or your education is forcing you to. Because of that, you can learn at your own pace and play what you want to play!

💡 Your Brain Works Faster Than Your Hands

The #1 complaint/struggle/stress/frustration when getting started playing as an adult is “I know what to do, but my hands aren’t listening to me!

This is normal!

Even when our brains know how it’s supposed to work, it can be down-right frustrating to transfer that knowledge into our hands and manifest it onto the keyboard. It takes time and a lot of patience to develop these connections. Just know that you’ve got what it takes! 🙌

Be patient and kind with yourself… It will take some time, but you can do it– and it is okay to work at your own pace.

💡 Allow Your Schedule To Be Flexible

As adults learning piano, it’s easy to think that we can’t make the time for ourselves– things can be so busy, and life can find a way of interfering with even the best laid plans.

All you need are 3 things, and 15 minutes a day.

  1. Scales
  2. Chords
  3. Songs

Spend a little time (even 5 minutes a day) on each of those, and I promise you will see progress in your practices.

Exercises for Adult Learners

I’ve got some beginner exercises to get you going:

📝 Exercise 1: The 5 Finger Scale

Assuming this is your first lesson on the piano, we’re going to start with some basics 🙏

Find a grouping of two black keys, and just below that (to the left) we have ‘C’.

Starting with the thumb of your right hand on the ‘C’, run up each of the white keys with the corresponding finger from left to right, ending with your pinky on the ‘G’ key, and then run back down again finishing on the bottom ‘C’.

Even this might seem difficult for a total beginner, but take your time, and know that the first few times playing this you may not feel as grounded and confident as you will once you have some more experience at the piano.

🔥🎹 HOT TIP! Notice how my wrists are up, and my fingers are curved- technique is one of the biggest factors to your comfort and capability while playing the piano, and also one of the most ignored!

Be sure to practice this with both your right, and your left hand.

📝 Exercise 2: Chord Shapes

Next up, I want you to find that same ‘C’ key from Exercise 1, and play the ‘G’ key (the top of your 5 finger scale!) at the same time. Play these together in time with the video. Be sure to watch along in the video if you’re having trouble with this.

🔥🎹 HOT TIP! Push the sustain pedal down to hold your notes and make everything sound pretty🌷

Play a low ‘C’ with your left hand to add some extra depth on the ‘1’ of each count.

1, 2, 3, 4 (repeat)

Once you’re comfortable with that we will start to move through a progression with our left hand.

Starting on the ‘C’ with your 1st finger (thumb), play a measure, and transition to ‘G’ (4th finger), then to ‘A’ (3rd finger) and finally to ‘F’ (5th finger!), counting out each measure from 1 to 4 with your right hand on the upper ‘C’ and ‘G’.

Doesn’t that sound beautiful? ❤️

📝 Exercise 3: Rocking The Notes

We’re going to do the same thing as before, but instead of playing our right hand in a chord, we’ll break those notes up and rock back and forth between them with our wrist.

As you’re doing that, play through the same sequence we learned in Exercise 2 with your left hand. This will go a long way to improve your hand independence and familiarity with the keys on the piano.

Closing Thoughts

Having structure to your practice, or the support to feel encouraged and grow as a musician are some of the most important aspects to your progression as a new player, but you also need to find balance between work and play.

Practicing can be something to look forward to and even revel in when you find something that ‘clicks’, and you don’t want to be reduced to a specific style of learning that doesn’t work for you.

With programs like Pianote, you can learn what you want, whenever you decide.

The beauty of online learning is your choice. Practice at your leisure, whenever wherever, and get the support you need, when you need it.

However you choose to learn, I am so excited for you to get started on the piano, and I would love to be a part of your piano learning journey. If you’re looking for the next step, I hope you check out the engaging and helpful community, as well as the diverse selection of content Pianote has to offer.

Happy practicing.

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 19 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.

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