Our advice to adults who want to learn the piano
Piano learning for adults
Most people are not fortunate enough to have been enrolled by their parents in piano lessons at a young age. Neither did you have that chance either, and you always told yourself that one day you would make up for lost time and learn to play that striking stringed instrument that has always fascinated you? But between your family life and your professional activity, you let the years slip by and now you say to yourself that it is too late to take lessons and that you will never make it anyway? It's all about motivation!
There is obviously no age to sit on a stool and put your hands on a superb keyboard alternating white and black keys. However, it is important to be aware that this teaching requires a great deal of involvement on the part of the student and that, as always in music, there is no miracle to learning the piano, regularity of work and hours of practice are essential to progress. Unless you are a musical genius as there are some in history.
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Starting piano as an adult
It is often said that all learning is easier for children because their brains are better able to store new knowledge quickly than their elders'. This is a scientific reality that it would be pointless to deny. But is this a good reason to give up any new course project as soon as one is over twenty years old? Certainly not, and you may even find that there are advantages to starting music lessons as an adult.
Indeed, the motivation will only come from the person concerned, and not from the parents as is sometimes the case for some children. This ensures more consistent motivation over time and better attention during lessons. An adult will also be better able to organize his or her schedule so as to allow regular practice time for scales and other sheet music reading exercises. These are excellent reasons to embark on the adventure, provided that one can devote time to it and is prepared to persevere, because playing the piano is far from easy and discouragement can quickly overwhelm the desire. All that remains is to find the right organization and the right teacher.
Is it imperative to go through music theory?
This is a question that often comes up for people who hesitate to take lessons. And this question is often tinged with anxiety, because as everyone knows, solfège, which allows one to approach music theory, read scores and write music, is a complex discipline and is often perceived as boring for the beginner. There are, however, two schools.
If one asks a classical pianist about this subject, he or she will inevitably answer that it is inseparable from the piano class, which is often presented as a particularly difficult instrument when it comes to deciphering scores. Without this theoretical knowledge, the musician cannot access the secrets of the great works of Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Chopin or Bach, which are so many marvels for the classical music lover.
But some people only want to learn their favorite jazz or rock tunes, and it must be recognized that it is possible to do so without mastering the reading of notes. The musician must then develop a fearsome ear that will allow him to analyze, reproduce and create. Of course, this only concerns a minority of pianists, and most teachers will refuse to go down this path. On the other hand, many of them now opt for a mixed teaching with a lot of keyboard from the beginning to bring a playful and concrete aspect that maintains the student's motivation.
Which method to learn how to play?
As with all instruments, the beginner musician has various options available to him. Several parameters will enter into this reflection, his temperament of course, but also his ambitions and possibilities in terms of organization.
It is very rare to hear pianists explain that they are truly self-taught. There are, however, different methods of learning the piano, which the Internet has helped to develop and spread. You can of course try it, all you risk is to become disgusted with the piano and to put your dream back into oblivion. The gesture being so delicate to apprehend, there is little chance that you will manage to become a good pianist without ever benefiting from the expertise of a teacher who will know how to put you back on the right track and avoid you from developing bad habits.
Even if you are lucky enough to have a conservatory in your city, most of them organize piano lessons for children only for beginners. However, you may be able to find an association or private institution that offers adult education. It is difficult to judge the relevance of this solution as it can vary from one case to another.
If you are fortunate enough to be part of a relatively homogeneous group in which the participants have fairly similar rates of progress and appreciate the teaching method, group emulation can have a very positive impact on your progress. It is also an opportunity to make friends with people who share the same passion.
The piano teacher
Using a piano teacher for private lessons at home remains the surest way to move forward on the road to mastering the keyboard. Especially in the early years, which are particularly important, since they should provide you with a solid foundation in terms of understanding the scores as well as body and hand positions.
Many pianists will also tell you that without the technical support and moral reassurance provided by a piano teacher with whom they formed a team, they would certainly have given up. The human aspect is very important in the relationship between teacher and student, it is even one of the keys to success. It is therefore essential to take the time to choose your future piano teacher and to explain your motivations and desires as clearly as possible.
The main difficulties of the piano
Apart from the solfège that we have already mentioned above and which represents a brake for many practitioners, the piano reserves other challenges for those who dream of taming it. But what pride and pleasure when you have overcome the initial difficulties.
Playing with both hands
When we speak of great pianists, we very often use the term virtuoso, which refers to an individual's ability to overcome particularly technical difficulties. Playing the piano requires incredible dexterity and this is surely what gives it its special place in the world of music.
Whether you are right- or left-handed, you will inevitably have one hand with which you are more skilled than the other. Right-handed people often feel that their left hand lacks liveliness and strength. They will therefore from the very beginning take in hand this discrepancy and work to improve the abilities of their left hand by repeating tirelessly the same exercises in order to automate a gesture.
At the beginning, your piano teacher will ask you to make each hand work independently of the other, until the day when you will start to put both hands at the same time and succeed in dissociating their movements.
Finding the rhythm
Are you starting to feel a little more comfortable and the sight of a score no longer gives you a headache? The time has come to apprehend the notion of rhythm, often with the help of a metronome that will give the cadence to be respected. Time will then become your preferred unit of measurement and will give you precious indications for the sequence of notes.