“I’d love to be able to play the piano”
“I wish I’d learnt to play when I was younger”
“It must be great just to be able to sit down and play”
“I never got round to learning the piano, but I should have”
Do any of these sound familiar to you?
I come across so many people who wish they could play, and yet so few that actually do anything about it. Have you ever wondered why you really didn’t learn to play the piano? Perhaps you’re using one or more of these regular excuses:
1) “I Don’t Have Time to Practise”
I often feel like I don’t have enough time to do things – including practising the piano (yes, I still practise.) But then I remember that there’s one thing we all have: precisely twenty-four hours each day to do what we do. That might seem obvious, but when you sit down and start to analyse exactly how we use those one thousand four hundred and forty minutes, you begin to realise that it’s a complicated business. The time we spend on activities has less to do with what is actually available, and much more to do with what we want, enjoy, prefer and prioritise. You can make good progress learning the piano in just a ten minute focused daily practice. If you can’t find ten minutes anywhere (and you can!) then just take it off your sleep. You’ll barely notice it.
2) “I can’t learn, I’m not musical”
Fact: we are all musical. Have you ever tapped your foot along to a song on the radio? Have you ever whistled, hummed or sung in the shower? Do you find yourself tapping your hand or pen on a table while you’re thinking? Do you dance at a party? Are you affected emotionally by music, such as the excitement and anticipation of a trumpet fanfare or the sadness of a slow, mournful tune? You are surrounded by music from birth to grave, via radio, television, supermarket, elevator, buskers, concerts, singing games and any number of other sources. This immersion gives you a musical appreciation and understanding that you may be unaware of – but if I play a song with some wrong notes in it, you’ll probably be able to tell me straight away! Everyone has a different starting point, but the physical and mental skills of piano playing are within the grasp of us all.
3) “I’m too old to start learning now”
There is no doubt that young minds have an enormous capacity for absorbing information and learning new skills quickly. But is equally true that we retain much of that ability as we age. As adults we have a more rounded experience and understanding of life, and what we lack in youthful enthusiasm we make up for in our ability to concentrate and form disciplined habits. I have never yet had a pupil who was ‘too old’ to learn to play the piano. I have several pupils over seventy, including one who suffers significantly with arthritis in her hands. Currently my oldest pupil is eighty years young!
4) “I can’t afford lessons”
Then don’t pay for them! That’s right. This blog post isn’t just some advert for my piano teaching business. Most of you reading it will live too far from me to have my lessons anyway. But plenty of people learn to play the piano without paying a teacher. If you’re reading this, then you have an internet connection: there here are lots of free internet resources to help you get started. Although many of them are poor in quality (and some are just awful!) there are some hidden gems if you go looking. YouTube is a good place to start. You can also check my Resources section, where I have started uploading some how-to-play videos. In addition, I’m currently working on a way to deliver professional-quality, progressive piano lessons via the internet at a fraction of the cost of a regular piano teacher – but more of that in a later post!
5) “I don’t have a piano”
Pianos, even secondhand, can be expensive. In fact, if you’re about to buy a very cheap piano, you’re probably looking at more of a liability than an asset (think costly repairs and going out of tune very quickly). But there are alternatives. Do you have a friend with a piano who would let you practise? What about your local church or community centre? If you’re just getting started, a cheap electronic keyboard will suffice, at least while you decide if it’s for you. I suggest you buy a ‘touch-sensitive’ model which is slightly nearer the feel of a real piano (though still some way away!) If you can afford/find a keyboard with weighted-action keys then you’re even closer to the real thing. A touch-sensitive keyboard will normally cost no more than £180 new or less than £90 secondhand on eBay. (At the time of writing, Amazon have a Yamaha PSR-E343 Portable Keyboard for around £165.) Keep looking: I have a pupil who bought a secondhand Yamaha keyboard at a local car-boot sale for £20! Failing that, if you have (or can borrow) an iPad, you can download piano apps for free. Playing on a touch-screen is not ideal, but enough to make a start for a week or two. On the other hand, if money isn’t really a problem, consider a digital piano – they are always perfectly in tune and the better models are cleverly designed to play just like a real piano. I have a Kawai Concert Artist CA15 that meets all my current teaching needs. It cost over £1500 but it never needs tuning or adjusting, despite being played all the time by pupils of varying ability (and me.)
Excuses aside – learning to play the piano is hugely rewarding. It both relaxes and stimulates the mind. It helps you to focus and concentrate. And as you progress, you enjoy a considerable sense of personal achievement. In my opinion and experience, no-one reading this is too busy, too unmusical, too old or too lacking in resources to give it a try. Ready for a new challenge? Go for it. You won’t regret it. And if you think I can help, let me know.
So, what’s your excuse?