How long does it take to learn to play the piano?

This is the question that I am asked the most often and is probably the hardest to answer. It partly depends on your perception of being able to play the piano. Most beginners can play a simple tune with one hand at the end of the first lesson and after about a year will have a reasonable grasp of music notation and be able to play a variety of pieces with both hands. However, learning to play the piano can be a never ending process depending how far you want to go. The one thing that is certain is that regular practice is essential to making satisfactory progress.

What is the best age to start?

Again it is difficult to generalise as we are all different but my experience has been that although exceptionally talented children often start earlier, 7 years old is a good age to begin piano lessons. 

Can an adult beginner learn to play the piano?

Absolutely! I have taught a great number of adults over the years. Although an adult beginner does not have quite the same potential as a child it is usually the case that adult learners are enthusiastic, determined and put a great deal of effort into learning to play the piano which helps them to make good progress. I currently teach a class of students at a retirement village who all show immense enthusiasm and are all making great progress. Years ago, one of the oldest beginners that I have taught, who was well in her seventies, produced a twenty pounds note at the end of her first lesson and said "I'm sorry I haven't got anything less, I've just given all my change to my driving instructor!"

What styles of music will I learn?

I teach many styles of music including, western classical, jazz, blues, pop, rock, show tunes, new age etc. It is vital that learners enjoy the music that they are learning to play and therefore I always try to tailor the choice of music to suit the individual.

Will I have to take graded examinations?

No, this route does not suit everyone, but for those who it does I regularly enter pupils for Associated Board graded examinations, both traditional and jazz and advanced pupils enter music theory examinations.

Which piano is best acoustic or digital?

There are advantages and disadvantages with both. High quality digital pianos are undoubtably now able to produce quite realistic piano sounds and the ones with fully weighted keys have a good feel which gives you a considerable degree of control of dynamics. I use a Roland RD700GX with Supernatural Expansion when playing at venues without a piano and I am very happy with the sound and feel of this digital piano. Digital pianos do not need tuning but sometimes will need servicing if the contacts wear and this can prove expensive. Digital pianos are, of course more portable and can be played with headphones, which can be handy if you like to practise at unsociable times. However, I still prefer the sound and feel of a real piano whenever possible and it is possible to get some real bargain second hand pianos at the moment from sites such as Ebay, although don't forget that if you buy a piano this way then don't forget that you will probably have to pay to transport the piano and that it will need tuning after it has been moved and then about once a year after that.

How long do lessons last for?

Usually half an hour once a week to begin with is quite sufficient, particularly with young beginners. More advanced pupils may benefit from longer lessons but what really is important is that pupils practise regularly in between lessons.

Will I have to practise scales and five finger exercises?

Yes, in order to progress you will need to spend a certain amount of time practising scales and five finger exercises but these can be practised in many different ways and can actually be quite fun to play!