Many questions are answered with a definitive answer, however, the question “How long does it take to learn piano?” is not one of them.
This is a question that is frequently asked by people who have just begun learning the piano or are about to start learning the piano. If you are one of them, then you might be asking the same thing.
Playing the piano takes talent, skill, perseverance, and a whole lot of patience. And time. Lots of time.
So the short answer is it really depends on you and how badly you want to learn piano.
But you probably knew that already.
In this post, we have come up with a clever way of determining the length of time it would take you to learn piano depending on WHY you want to learn in the first place.
Why, is it not possible to learn in a few days?
If you want to learn in a matter of days, it’s possible. Especially if you know how to play by ear. But for those who don’t (like me!), then you have to think long-term (it took me YEARS!).
For an absolute beginner, that is, you know absolutely nothing about music (notes, scales, arpeggios, chords, etc.) then you have your work cut out for you. You have to know the basics by heart and this alone will take you months, if not a year or two.
Most schools all over the world have music education though so you should already have some idea about music theory. This should help cut down on your learning time.
So, assuming you listened at school and studied your music properly, then all that’s left to do is to apply your music theory to the keyboard. But this is easier said than done. Theory is different from practice. And with piano there are many techniques that are only learned through frequent practice and repetition. This is not done overnight.
Let me ask you this question then, “Why do you want to play the piano?”
Your answer would probably be any of the following:
1. Do you just want to play for yourself (as a hobby)? And have no intention of playing for anybody else?
2. Do you plan on playing in front of friends and family? Entertain them perhaps?
3. Do you plan on becoming a performer like with a band or an orchestra and perform in front of hundreds or thousands of people?
4. Do you want to become a concert pianist? And yes, still perform in front many people?
Have you chosen an answer yet?
If you have, then read on!
Answer no. 1: You just want to play for yourself
If you answered no. 1, you may want to consider buying a keyboard with a built-in tutorial or learning system. Since no one will be critiquing you, you don’t have to ‘perfect’ your music. You can learn how to play in a matter of days.
In both systems, you can choose from any of their built-in songs and the LCD display will show you which fingers to press on which keys. In addition, for keyboards with light up keys, the keys will also light up to guide you where to press.
This is quite useful especially if you want to learn fast but of course this method does not teach you the basics. You just basically memorize the pattern being taught. So if you want to learn how to play all the built-in songs, then you have to memorize the patterns for each of those songs.
It’s not easy memorizing so if you do memorize all the songs, then congratulations! You now know how to play 10 songs. Or 50 or 100 (depends on the keyboard’s song bank). 🙂
That’s it! If memorizing is good enough for you, then you should check out the following keyboards.
Here are some Yamaha keyboards with the Education Suite built-in already:
Yamaha EZ-220 (light up keys)
And here are some Casio’s with the Step Up Learning System onboard:
Casio LK-280 (light up keys)
Casio LK-175 (light up keys)
Answer no. 2: You want to entertain family and friends
If you answered no. 2, then in addition to buying any of the keyboards above, you can also watch videos on YouTube or read music books.
If you want more structured learning, you might want to check out some online piano courses such as:
#1 - Piano For All (Recommended!)
#2 - Piano Play It
#3 - Learn Piano in 30 Days
We’ve compared the pros and cons of the 3 programs in this review: Top 3 Piano Lessons for Adults and Beginners. In summary, the program Piano For All came out the winner because it offered the best value for money and it was also the most affordable.
The estimated timeline for learning how to play with the help of any of the courses above would be 2-4 weeks. Again, this will depend on your efforts as well. You do have to put in the work too. So consider that.
Answer no. 3: You want to play with a band or orchestra someday
If you answered no. 3, then it will take you a longer time than if you just answered 1 or 2.
In a band, you will probably play pop songs and other modern genres which can normally be played with chords.
It will probably take you maybe a few weeks or months to memorize all the chords and then play some songs using chords. When you’re playing accompaniment (like in a band where there are other instruments being played) then any mistake you make won’t be as obvious than when you’re playing solo and your piano or keyboard is the only instrument playing!
To sum it up, if you would like to play in a band or orchestra someday you will need to put in at least a few months worth of piano study.
Answer no. 4: You want to become a concert pianist someday
If you answered no. 4, then you have to be ready to spend many many years and thousands upon thousands of hours ‘perfecting’ all piano techniques. Most concert pianists, spends HOURS on the piano EVERYDAY. It really takes a lot of dedication and passion to succeed as a concert pianist.
If you are 100% sure you want to become a concert pianist, then it would be best to purchase a piano as soon as your budget allows it. Keyboards are fine for learning notes and chords but most keyboards don’t have weighted keys like real pianos. Getting yourself familiar with piano techniques is important so you don’t injure yourself.
The technique and precision that is needed to master the piano is achieved through rigorous and diligent practice. One has to be very patient when learning. So, basically what I am trying to say is that you have to practice, practice and practice some more.
Sounds really tiring, right?
But the end result is worth it when you can proudly perform and play music like it was intended to be played!
We've listed down 5 steps below which should help you with your practice time:
How long does it take to learn piano if you follow the 5 steps listed below?
The answer still depends on how much work you put into it. The more dedicated you are in learning the piano and the more practice you put in, the lesser time it takes you to master this instrument.
Learning the piano occurs in different stages. These stages are given below and we have tried our best to make it easy to understand along with an average estimation of the time it takes to learn each technique:
Step 1: Learn how to properly position your fingers, arms, and your overall posture.
For beginners it can get mighty uncomfortable to hold the correct position that is required for playing piano so you don’t eventually injure yourself. But once you have mastered the correct technique then it will come to you naturally and will become second nature to you.
Step 2: Learn the basic notes.
The second step would be to locate the various notes (C, D, E, F, G, A, B) on the keyboard, and learning how to play them. Some people might memorise the notes separately but it is recommended to memorise the notes during practice as you will have to repeatedly play the same notes until you get it perfect anyway. This might take a couple of days to a few weeks.
Honestly though, it took me an entire week ( if a week has eight days then yeah, it took me a week) to learn the basic notes.
Step 3: Learn how to read music sheets.
You need to be able to read music to be able to play the music. If you already know how to read music then that's great! But for those who don't know yet you have to study how to read music while you work on Step 2 simultaneously.
Also, a word of advice:
You can listen to some piano classics in your free time so that you become used to the melodies and tunes of piano music which will not only inspire you, but teach and motivate you with your studies.
Step 4: Now that you know how to play the basic notes you can start learning how to play some easy short classic songs.
Don't try to immediately learn a really hard piece as that is a recipe for disaster. If you go for the difficult pieces first then you just might get discouraged from learning.
Start with the basic songs. This will not only help you learn a few songs, but it will also boost your self-esteem. You can do this for several weeks. My recommended time is at least two weeks.
Just to make you feel a bit better, my first song was Ba Ba Black Sheep.
Don't judge. 🙂
Step 5: Now you can start learning some real songs.
You might still come across some hiccups (like I did plenty of times) but don't worry, a little bit of extra practice will solve it.
Don’t think about quitting. Just take it one day at a time and before you know it, you will be playing like the pros!
You did start learning for a reason right?
Keep practicing more songs and regularly play the piano for at least half an hour everyday (this will depend on your schedule of course).
But for someone who wants to pursue music school or become a musician then it is recommended to do each step a little longer and put in more practice time every single day. To make every practice session count and to help you practice more effectively, we would advise hiring a piano teacher to teach you all the basics and all the right techniques. A teacher would also give you prompt feedback and correct your mistakes before it inadvertently develops into a (bad) habit.
Your music education is an investment. Invest in the right tools and the right teacher so you achieve your dream of becoming a musician sooner, rather than later.
We hope this post helped answer your question, “How long does it take to learn piano”.
If you want to read more tips on how to practice piano effectively, check out this post: How To Practice Piano Effectively: Check These 30 Actionable Tips!
For piano tips and tricks, read these posts here:
If you want to maximize your time at the piano, check out these posts:
Feel free to let us know your thoughts and how long it actually took YOU to learn the piano. OR if you are just starting out, how long do YOU think it will take you to learn piano?