Piano Lessons for Beginners: When To Start, What To Look For, and How Quickly You Can Learn

Piano Lessons for Beginners: When To Start, What To Look For, and How Quickly You Can Learn

piano lessons for beginner

If you or your child is interested in music, taking piano lessons may be a good place to start to develop some musical skills and grow in a love for the subject.

But you’ve got questions about how to get started, like:

  • When should I start piano lessons?
  • How can I find the right teacher?
  • How long does it take a beginner to learn to play the piano?

In this article, you’ll find answers to these questions and more. We’ll also share why Northwest School of Music may have piano programs and instructors to fit your needs and goals.

Table of Contents

At What Age Should You Start Learning Piano?

The answer to this question is dependent on several variables, including:

  • The interest of the student
  • The preference of the teacher; and
  • The goals of the student and/or parent

In general, most piano teachers agree that the ideal age for children to begin piano lessons is between six and nine years old. 

At Northwest School of Music, we believe children can benefit from piano lessons as early as three years old, especially if they are actively showing an interest in music and the piano.

What if your child is older, or an adult wants to begin piano lessons? Is it too late to get started?

It’s never too late to begin piano lessons. 

Though it’s true that children learn faster than adults, learning the piano is definitely a skill that an adult can pursue with success — though you may need more patience, persistence, and discipline.

Is it Hard To Learn Piano at an Older Age?

People can learn the piano at any age — even into their 70s and 80s and beyond. Our brains make new connections all the time, and adults can always learn new skills. 

Learning the piano as an adult may require more patience and tenacity because it may not come as easily or quickly to them as it does to a child. 

As long as you start with realistic expectations and a desire to learn — even if it’s at a slower pace — piano lessons for adults can be both enjoyable and rewarding.

beginner piano lessons

3 Ways To Know if Your Child Is Ready for Beginner Piano Lessons

Every child is different. One child may be ready for piano lessons when they are four years old, while another child may not be ready until they are six or seven.

How can you know when your child is ready?

Interest in music and physical development can be indicators of readiness for piano lessons. The following three factors can be helpful to consider when evaluating whether your child is ready to begin piano lessons.

#1: They Show an Interest in Music

This may be the most important sign to look for when deciding if your child should begin piano lessons. 

As with us all, if we have an interest in something, we are more likely to participate in it and stick with it when it becomes challenging. 

If your child is taking lessons merely because you want them to — and don’t have a desire themselves — you may eventually have a struggle on your hands when your child doesn’t want to practice or go to lessons.

Here are some signs that your child is interested in music and may be ready to start beginner piano lessons:

  • Moving or singing when hearing music
  • Showing attention when music or an instrument is played
  • Tinkering on the piano keys
  • Plucking the strings of a guitar or ukulele
  • Playing with musical toys
  • Listening to music with interest and intensity

#2: Their Hands Are Big Enough

Are your child’s hands big enough to spread them out across the piano keys? 

For some tiny hands, that may be quite a stretch. Even though they may not reach them perfectly at first, your child may be ready for piano lessons if they can comfortably place their five fingers on five adjacent keys.

#3: They Show Finger Independence

Finger independence means moving one finger at a time, and this skill is helpful when beginning piano lessons as a child.

To see if your child displays finger independence, ask them to hold up their hand with their fingers spread apart. Then ask them to wiggle their ring finger or their pinkie. If they do this easily, they are showing readiness to begin lessons.

If your child isn’t quite ready, you can help them work on finger independence by asking your child to copy your finger-wiggling movements. Not only will they be working on development, but they’ll also have fun playing a game with mom or dad.

If you think your child is ready for beginner piano lessons, contact Northwest School of Music today. We’ll discuss lesson options with you and work with you to provide the type of piano lessons geared to your goals and desires.

beginner lessons for piano

4 Tips for Choosing the Right Piano Lessons for Beginners

Choosing the right instructor and type of piano lessons for beginners is key to getting a positive start in piano instruction. When choosing the right teacher, consider:

  • Their specialization with different ages
  • Their teaching style
  • Your goals; and
  • Your learning style

#1: Age-Appropriate Instruction

Learning the piano at age 5, as opposed to age 25, will require different teaching methods. All new students, despite their age, will likely learn many of the same piano basics but at a different pace or in a different way.

For example, a five-year-old with little reading experience may have difficulty reading notes or sight-reading at first. On the other hand, an adult who is already adept at reading and may have some basic music theory knowledge will have a much easier time picking up on sight-reading skills.

Or if the beginning piano student is a senior citizen, the instructor may need patience and have special techniques ready to employ when working with slower fingers due to age or arthritis. 

No matter the age or skill level of the beginner, choose a teacher who specializes in or has experience working with your (or your child’s) age group for the best results.

#2: Know Your Goals

Why are you interested in piano lessons for yourself or your child?

  • Do you want to learn piano as a fun hobby?
  • Do you have hopes of your child playing professionally?
  • Do you want to become proficient at reading music; or 
  • Do you want to learn to play by ear?

Knowing your goals as a beginner and articulating those to potential instructors can help you both know if you’ll be a good fit. Choose a teacher who listens to your needs and goals and who can craft a lesson strategy aimed at helping you accomplish them.

piano lesson for beginner

#3: Know Your Learning Style

You or your child will meet with your piano instructor on at least a weekly basis, so you want to find an instructor that you will connect with — especially in terms of learning style.

Does your child flourish with a teacher who has a nurturing personality, or would they be motivated by a piano instructor who drives them and pushes them in their lessons and required practice?

When you and your piano teacher understand each other and connect, the learning process is not only enjoyable, but it can also result in more rapid and positive progress.

#4: Know Your Instructor’s Teaching Style

Before choosing a music school, research the instructors and their teaching methods to see if their programs and methods will help you meet your goals. 

If you want to learn more about theory, ask the instructors how their methods focus on music theory. If you want lessons that are more practical, ask if the lessons provide plenty of opportunities to play songs and pieces that interest you.

Once you make a connection with the instructor, evaluate how their teaching style matches what you want to learn and the pace at which you’d like to progress.

If you are looking for piano lessons for beginners — either for you or your child — Northwest School of Music offers piano lessons for students from beginning to advanced. The focus of lessons varies from teacher to teacher and includes:

  • Classical
  • Contemporary
  • Jazz
  • And more
beginner lessons for piano

Beginner Lessons for Piano FAQs

Are All Piano Lessons for Beginners the Same?

Yes and no. 

Beginning students will generally start with the same foundational teaching no matter what age they are or what style they want to learn how to play.

However, just as each beginning student is different, lessons for beginners will also be different since they will be tailored to their needs, goals, and learning styles.

Additionally, each piano instructor will use their own philosophies and methods of teaching as they work with beginners. 

Experienced teachers will know how to merge their teaching style with students’ goals to make the learning experience enjoyable and profitable for them both.

For example, a beginning student may be interested in learning jazz but isn’t ready to be introduced to sharps and flats in the key signature or on the keyboard. In addition to introducing songs in the key of C (only the white keys), the instructor could assign songs in the relative minor key (A minor). They will still only be using the white keys, but the songs will have a more jazzy sound and will still be within the student’s capabilities.

What Should a Piano Beginner Learn First?

Beginning piano students should first become familiar with the musical alphabet: A, B, C, D, E, F, G. After learning the basic musical alphabet, learning the scale in the key of C Major is the next logical step because all the notes are on the white keys.

In addition to these primary skills, a beginner should learn:

  • Finger numbering
  • Hand position; and
  • Basic information about the musical staff

How Long Will It Take To Learn Piano?

There is no hard and fast answer to this question because how quickly you learn depends on many variables, including:

  • Age
  • Prior music experience
  • Goals
  • Motivation
  • And more

If you want to learn to play the piano for pleasure, most students can achieve that level of skill within three to five years. But if you’re aiming to play the piano professionally, you are looking at ten to fifteen years of concentrated study and practice with a master instructor.

piano lessons for beginner

How Long Should I Practice as a Beginner?

In general, beginning piano students should try to practice at least 30 minutes a day, several days a week. Adult and teenage beginning piano students should aim to practice six days a week. Younger beginner students may do better with shorter practice sessions spread out across the week. 

As both younger and older piano students progress, practice sessions can be more frequent and lengthened to 45 minutes.

Can I Teach Myself Piano?

Yes, you can teach yourself piano, but it’s not recommended. Teaching yourself comes with the risk of learning bad or wrong techniques and only being able to progress so far. Additionally, it may be challenging to stay motivated when teaching yourself.

However, taking lessons from a qualified piano instructor comes with so many benefits:

  • Learning correct techniques, including:
    • Hand position
    • Correct seating/posture
    • Effective fingering techniques
  • Music theory knowledge
  • Motivation
  • Help with planning and structuring lessons to improve skills

Investing in piano lessons can deliver exceptional results.

NW School of Music: Offering Piano Lessons for Beginners and Beyond

If you’re ready to start beginner lessons for piano, Northwest School of Music offers lessons for students of all levels in a fun and encouraging environment.

Lessons are offered year-round with options for 30, 45, and 60-minute lessons.

In addition to piano lessons, we also offer lessons in a variety of other instruments, including:

  • Guitar
  • Violin
  • Cello
  • Viola
  • Ukulele
  • Drums
  • And more

Founded in 2006, Northwest School of Music provides quality music instruction to both children and adults in our studio in Salem, Oregon. In addition to online lessons, we also offer in-home private lessons.

At Northwest School of Music:

  • You’ll receive instruction from trained and experienced teachers.
  • You’ll have access to both private and group lessons.
  • Parents are always welcome to attend music classes.
  • We offer Kinder Music as well as voice lessons.
  • Classes are offered at convenient times on weekdays, evenings, and Saturdays.
  • Students have the opportunity to perform in low-pressure recitals.

To find out more about Northwest School of Music and to schedule your first lesson, contact us today.

beginner lessons for piano
piano lessons for beginner
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Northwest School Of Music, 387 Mission Street SE, Salem, Oregon 97302, USA​
503-999-4343​ | office@nwschoolofmusic.com​

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Northwest School Of Music, 387 Mission Street SE, Salem, Oregon 97302, USA​
503-999-4343​ | office@nwschoolofmusic.com​

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