There is no easy answer to that question, I am afraid. A lot of it will depend on you. There are sacrifices to be made to achieve it that will include financial input, time considerations, and several other elements.
But you must ask yourself the question, “Why do you want to do it?” If the answer is anything other than “Because I really want to play piano,” then you will probably fail.
Is piano hard to learn? Only if you make it so. Every pianist you see went through the same learning curve. Some improve faster than others, of course. But there has only ever been one Mozart, and there will probably never be another one. Everybody else is a mere mortal music-wise, despite what some might tell you.
How Do I Learn?
First, you have to decide what is the best way of learning. There are three options for learning to play the piano, depending to a certain extent on your age.
The points I am going to make here may not apply to a young beginner under ten years old, as you will realize. So what are your options?
1 – Have Full-time Lessons
I am talking about lessons with a quality teacher. There is a lot to be said for this approach. A good teacher will not only teach, but they will also encourage and motivate. You will get a sense of direction, and the improvements will be noticeable.
They will also iron out any technical problems with how you play, which is very important. They will prevent you from getting bad habits that will be difficult to correct later. And they will provide you with appropriate teaching materials.
The Downside – Costs
2 – Go It Alone
Many people have gone down that road. It can be fraught with difficulties, and the utmost dedication and patience are required. You will also need a bit of luck with ensuring your technique is sound. But, it can be done.
You might not have the technical expertise that those who have been teacher-taught will have. And your understanding of music theory, which is vital, might be a bit sketchy. But there are plenty of teaching aids online to help these days.
The Downside – Lack of help when you need it.
3 – Part Self / Part Teacher
If I was starting all over again, this is probably the route I would personally take. It is not just a case of sitting down and trying to learn. There are correct and incorrect ways of doing things in all instruments. The piano is no different.
A lesson maybe once per month to start with allows you to get proper instruction. The teacher can then monitor your progress and make any corrections that need to be made. They can advise and set you targets. However, the onus will still be on you to practice at home.
You won’t be experienced enough to revise your own mistakes. If unchecked, they will turn into a long-term problem. You can only get so much from an internet site or a book. Nothing can compensate for one-to-one tuition.
If you ever hope to be able to play what some might call “correctly,” then you will have to learn to read music. That is a lot of theory. It can be complex and hard to understand. A teacher will help you through that.
The Downside – One lesson per month could see a slow improvement.
Your Work Ethic
This will revolve around two issues. How personally motivated are you? And secondly, how much do you want to learn the piano? The answers to both of these questions are the answer to our original question, “Is piano hard to learn?”
The best way to learn to play the piano is to organize your time and say, “this is my practice time.” And then, as things come up that might interfere, you just say, “No – this is practice time.” That can often be hard. If you are not convinced you can sacrifice a few things, then you might struggle.
Practice is better as a starter, in short bursts, with a defined aim. But don’t set the targets too high. Twenty-five minutes of concentrated practice in total at first will be enough as long as it is organized and prepared well.
How Much Do You Want It?
We all can get a bit downhearted at times, but if you really want it, you just carry on and do the best you can. What I have noticed about practice is that there are days it is good and days not so good. On the not-so-good days, you just play through it and do the best you can. And remember why you are doing this.
You will be wasting any money spent on tutors if you don’t practice what they teach. And if you do not, also work on your own and go that extra mile.
Do You Need a Musical Background?
It might help but is far from essential. You may well have had some experience that you have probably forgotten about. Did you play the recorder or something else at school? Did you sing in the choir? If so, then you may have grasped a little. But the great thing is to develop a love for it. If playing music is a chore, then you are in the wrong business.
Not everyone has a musical background when they sit down at the piano for the first time. It shouldn’t stop you if you haven’t.
Patience with Yourself
When a baby is born, does it get straight up and start walking? No. Does an Olympic athlete just wake up one day and perform to world standards? No, they practice and work hard. Skills for us humans take time to learn and perfect.
Piano playing is no different. There are skills you need to play the piano. It will take time, so be patient and get it right. No matter how long it takes.
The technique is a large part of being able to play properly and being able to play complex pieces. That skill is not just going to suddenly appear. You have to be willing to put in the time and effort. It will come, but you can’t sidestep it. Without good technique, you will not achieve the levels of which you are capable.
Your Level of Expectation
You must be realistic. You won’t be playing pieces by Franz Liszt any time soon. One step at a time. Keep it simple and basic and progress at your own speed. Don’t raise your expectation levels too high to start with.
Yes, you need to push yourself and stretch yourself to become better. You need to step out of your comfort zone just a little. But don’t go too far.
Trying to play pieces that are just too much will lead to frustration and despondency. If you are seeing a tutor, they will advise you based on how they see your standard at any given time.
The Final Piece of the Jigsaw
What are you playing? There are problems with this everywhere you look. You may not have space where you live for an upright piano and may be limited to a digital keyboard or digital piano.
If you are taking lessons, then it is likely you will do so on an upright piano. That may not translate to playing on a keyboard particularly easily.
Here are some guidelines for learning to play piano.
- Get yourself the best instrument you can.
- Get an upright piano if your budget and space in your accommodation allow it.
- If you have to go for a keyboard, make sure it has 88-keys.
- Make sure the keys are “weighted” to feel like a real piano, or at least “semi-weighted.”
- If you are getting a keyboard, make sure it has a sustain pedal if possible.
Need a Great Piano or Keyboard?
We can help you find what you need. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Digital Pianos For Beginners, the Best Portable Keyboard Pianos, the Best Kawai Digital Piano, the Best Cheap Keyboard Piano, the Best Digital Piano With Weighted Keys, and the Best Digital Pianos for Under $500 you can buy in 2023.
And don’t miss our handy guides on How to Become a Better Piano Player, How to Teach Yourself Piano at Home, 10 First & Easiest Songs You Should Learn on Piano, 15 Piano Pop Songs Everyone Will Love, Easy Piano Songs for Kids, and What’s the Difference Between a Digital Piano and a Keyboard for more useful information.
Is Piano Hard to Learn? – Final Thoughts
Learning music, like any journey, starts with the first step. One small step for you, but a giant leap towards what you will become. With that in mind, here are some options that may help the beginner.
Yamaha is one of the best piano manufacturers at all levels. And a great option is the Yamaha P71 Digital Piano with Weighted Keys and Sustain pedal, Furniture Stand, and Bench.
If you are on a budget, a decent option is the Alesis Recital – 88 Key Digital Electric Piano / Keyboard with Semi-Weighted Keys. Likewise, you can give yourself a start if you are a complete beginner with Alfred’s Teach Yourself to Play Piano.
Until next time, let your music play.