If you’d like to learn how to play the piano, you may be wondering “What age is best to start piano lessons?” Although there are varying thoughts and opinions on this question, it is always possible to start learning, whether you’re young or old. That said, here are some important aspects to consider.
What Are Your Piano-Playing Objectives?
Why do you want to learn the piano? Perhaps you have a real love for music and are passionate about learning a new instrument. Or perhaps you learnt to play as a child and would like to take it up again.
What do you want to achieve? If you envision yourself as a top concert pianist, then it’s best to start as early as possible. The earlier you begin, the more practice you’ll have, and the further you’ll progress. Lang Lang and Khatia Buniatishvili both started piano lessons when they were only three years old.
With incredible motivation and hard work, success can also be achieved at an older age, despite its challenges. Albert Frantz only started playing the piano at the much later age of 17, even when his piano teacher considered it a waste of time and money.
On the other hand, if you’d like to play the piano purely for enjoyment, with frequent practice you can reach this goal at almost any age.
How Dedicated Are You?
Practice makes perfect! When learning any new skill, the more dedicated you are, the more you’ll be able to exercise and improve your playing. But bear in mind that a weekly piano lesson without completing your practice scales or homework won’t produce good results.
Is There a Right Age to Start Learning?
Some believe that there’s no truly correct age to begin piano lessons. However, the physical build of a person can be important. Someone with large hands or long fingers may find that the piano is a good choice of instrument. Others state there are age-specific instruments that best suit a child. The piano is commonly suggested as a suitable first musical instrument for children under the age of six.
The Beijing Normal University shared the findings of a study in 2013. It found that individuals who started piano lessons before the age of seven profited from advanced intellectual skills as they progressed through life. Interestingly, piano students who stopped practising in their teenage years still benefited from these heightened cognitive abilities, which they’d gained through piano lessons in their earlier years.
Even if you started learning the piano as a child and either gave up or took a break, it’s possible for many people to return to playing and achieve good results, regardless of their age.
Children who start piano lessons between the ages of five and eight are used to adult-directed learning from school exposure. With fresh and absorptive minds, children do learn faster, but also have physical concentration and discipline limitations. In comparison, adults learn slower and have less time due to working, responsibilities and other hobbies. However, adults often display greater maturity, concentration and discipline.
Children might become frustrated when they struggle to master piano playing, whereas adults can have a more persistent, level-headed and realistic approach.
When Are You Ready to Start Piano Lessons?
Readiness differs from person to person, but look at the size of your hands and how independently your fingers can move before you start piano lessons. A child’s hand should cover a minimum of five white keys from their little finger to their thumb.
It’s vital to be able to move your fingers independently on both hands from one finger to the next. While it’s quite difficult to move your little finger independently of your ring finger on the same hand, through practice you can strengthen each finger over time.
Is It Ever Too Late?
It's comforting to know that even though an adult’s brain becomes less flexible as it ages, the brain’s neural plasticity enables it to rewire itself, even in older people. Regardless of age, the brain adapts when learning a new skill.
In concert pianist James Rhodes’ 2015 memoir, Instrumental, he shares that it’s never too late to learn the piano. His 2016 book, How to Play the Piano, offers a plan with just 45 minutes’ practice a day, six days a week for six weeks that he says will enable anymore to play J.S. Bach’s Prelude No. 1 in C Major.
So if you’re motivated enough to learn how to play the piano, investing as much time as you can into your lessons and practice will enable you to progress well. Whatever your reason for wanting to play, the vast array of scientifically supported advantages associated with learning how to play the piano at any age can only be a bonus. In particular, playing a musical instrument can benefit mental health, coordination and brain function.
With determination and hard work, you can learn to play the piano at pretty much any age - so now is as good a time as any to get started!