How Long Does it Take to Learn Piano?
Written by Amazing Mobile Music Instruction

How Long Does it Take to Learn Piano?

Welcome back to Amazing Mobile Music Instruction. You’ve finally decided to take piano lessons. The real question is how long is it going to take to learn? Music instructors always have a hard time giving a good answer. It’s isn’t a terrible question, it’s just a little difficult to answer. To answer the question, we need to know what “learning piano” really means to you.

How Long Does it Take to Master the Piano?

Piano can totally take over your life. Malcolm Gladwell has notably stated it takes 10,000 hours or more to master a skill. 10,000 hours is around an hour and a half a day for 15+ years. Do you only plan on practicing a half hour each day? If you never skipped a day, it would take around 60 years to amass the desired 10,000 hours.

Today’s scientists consider the 10,000 hours to be a myth. Classical music competition winners are closer to 25,000 hours of practice. That comes to 3 hours a day for 20 years. There are a lot of factors. The age you begin, is clearly paramount. The techniques and how effectively you practice also has to be strongly observed. Not taking these factors into account, instructors don’t think anyone would dispute thousands of hours of practice are needed to be a skilled pianist.

Your Goals for Learning Piano

Now that there is an understanding how long it will probably take to reach a professional level. A lot of people that ask this question aren’t wondering “when will I win that classical piano competition?” Some people just want to know how long it takes them to feel fairly proficient when put in front of a piano. This is where you actually need to determine what “fairly proficient” means to you.

Learning One Piece of Music

Do you want to learn one piece of music and that’s all? You can learn one piece of music (that isn’t too hard) moderately quickly with practice. There are a lot of YouTube instruction that can teach you piece of musics by routine. This means is they play a piece of music, and have you copy their finger movements just like they showed you. If you are wanting to learn only one piece of music of music, this is probably the most beneficial way to learn. Some people with some experience or little to none, can learn moderately quickly.

The problem with this technique is you’re just learning one piece of music of music. Learning by routine won’t help you read directly (unless you’re learning by routine and reading simultaneously). There won’t be a way to play any other piece of music unless you learn by routine again.

You only want to learn one piece of music? Learn through routine. You will most likely learn a lot of the piece of music in just a couple of hours. If you’re wanting to learn to play, take piano lessons and learn to read music. Routine playing might be a part of the lessons, but ultimately you will need to learn to read music.

Reading Music

If the goal is for you to be able to read music, then you also need to know how far you want to take it. Memorizing notes on the page and notes on the keyboard shouldn’t take more than a couple of weeks. Despite the fact that some students will spend a lot longer learning the notes, because they are not practicing enough, or practicing properly. There actually is not that much to memorize. You only need to memorize where about 48 notes on the page in association to your keyboard to play a lot of music. 48 may sound like a lot, but for example you only had to memorize 48 words to learn Mandarin. A lot of people could speak it. It doesn’t take a lot of time. Just concentrated effort and repetition.

Understanding where the notes sit on the page is one thing, but in reality, hitting them with your fingers in time is different. Assume you were practicing on a regular basis and properly, a lot of instructors would imagine you would feel somewhat relaxed reading music the first time you see it in around 6 months. A lot of people won’t practice that well and regularly though, so about 3 years is usually a better estimate.

In order to feel proficient reading intermediate music on the first time you see it, you can add on another 7. Reading music is a pretty difficult skill to establish.

Playing Advanced Music

Perhaps reading music itself isn’t your objective. You only want to play some more advanced music. On average, a child that began at a young age that was practicing well, often and consistently, would most likely have the ability to start this kind of music by the time they reach high school. Think around 10 years. Pianists that start as adults most likely will take longer.  A part of the reason might be just because it’s more difficult to practice consistently. The other reason is that children have the ability to learn faster. Not practicing at an early age does make a difference.

The 10 years mentioned may be a lot shorter, that’s why there 6-year-old prodigies. Prodigies are not as magical as people might think. If you begin when you are 2 and your parents teach you on a daily basis, you can reach those levels, usually in half the time.

Pop Music

Have no interest in playing classical? Not learning classical can cut the time it takes you to learn by quite a lot. Pop music, from a difficulty perspective, isn’t even in the same ballpark. When you feel relaxed reading music and having knowledge of chords and their structure you could be a pretty proficient pop pianist. After 3-5 years of practicing, and a lot of people that hear you play will be captivated.

Learning to Read Music and Play Timeline Estimates

The reason this question is asked a lot is because the one asking the question hopes that in a couple of months, they can learn to play the piano competent. The truth of the matter is that usually never happens. If you don’t plan on making piano a part of your life for at least a couple of years, you might end up in the group that “took piano lessons” but simply can’t play. In case you scanned through the entire article, here is a typical timeline for how long it will take you to learn to play piano:

  • Learning One Piece of Music by Routine: A couple of weeks
  • Reading Basic Piano Music: 6 months to 3 years
  • Reading Intermediate Piano Music: 3 to 10 years
  • Playing Advanced Classical Music: 10 to 15 years
  • Playing Pop Music: 3 to 5 years

Bear in mind these are estimated numbers since instructors get asked this so often. The student may learn faster or slower, for a number of reasons. Using these figures, despite that, will show that piano is not something you can learn in a couple of lessons. It takes thousands of hours to feel proficient. Things that give us the greatest enjoyment in life, don’t come easy. They are the things that take hard work that will bring you the most joy.

In Conclusion

Join us next time. As always if you ever have a question or would like to know more please contact us at Also, don’t forget to like/follow us on Facebook and Instagram @amazingmobilemusic.

Amazing Mobile Music offers Music Lessons Throughout the Phoenix metro area.

Amazing Mobile Music Instruction offers music lessons for piano, bass guitar, drums, guitar, mandolin, and ukulele. Learn how to play your favorite instrument with Amazing Mobile Music Instruction. Looking for kids piano lessons or beginner piano lessons? We can help with that too.



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