The piano is one of the most widely played instruments in the world—and for good reason. The versatile instrument, which is capable of producing music with depth, power, and nuance, allows musicians to play either independently or with others. Despite the many benefits that the piano has to offer, a belief in the following seven myths about learning to play the instrument can hold students back from reaching their potential as pianists.
1. The myth: It’s too late in life for me to learn to play the piano.
The reality: Age should not be a factor in determining whether or not someone can learn to play the piano. While there are many developmental benefits to taking lessons as a child, learning to play the piano as an adult can be just as gratifying, and in some cases, perhaps even more so. Children forced to take piano lessons at an early age may become bored and frustrated, making them unwilling to pursue the instrument into adulthood. Conversely, adults who make the choice to pursue the piano later on in life may find more satisfaction in learning to play.
2. The myth: As an adult, I’ll never learn as quickly as a child could.
The reality: The idea that children can intrinsically learn to play the piano more quickly than adults is incorrect. Many experts agree that the age at which people learn to play the piano does not significantly impact their ability to develop this talent. More than anything, the chief factor in how quickly piano students becomes proficient is not the age at which they first receive instruction, but rather the level of commitment to regular practice that they have.
3. The myth: I only have a keyboard to practice on, so I’ll never become a great piano player.
The reality: For a beginning student, practicing at home on a keyboard is an acceptable alternative to investing in a real piano. The fundamentals of the piano can be learned on a keyboard, although students without one may miss out on the opportunity to experiment with the subtleties of tone that weighted keys afford. Students who own a keyboard can also supplement their practice by seeking out a piano available for public use in places like churches, schools, or rented practice rooms.
4. The myth: I could never find the time to make piano practice a regular part of my routine.
The reality: One thing that piano students of all ages need to become proficient at is dedicated practice. No matter how busy they are, piano students can find time to schedule a reasonable amount of practice into their daily routine if they are truly intent on becoming proficient pianists. Practice sessions do not need to be long if they are well-planned. Practicing a few difficult bars of a song or fingering techniques on an instrument in several 5- to 10-minute sessions over the course of a day can be just as instructive as sitting down to practice for 30 minutes, straight through. Shorter practice sessions may actually be more helpful, as they prevent boredom and allow players to notice small, but noticeable improvements.
5. The myth: My hands are too small to play the piano well.
The reality: People with smaller hands who have never practiced an instrument before may rule out playing the piano because they don’t think that the size of their hands will allow them to play some of the wider chords. However, big hands and long fingers are not necessarily indicative of a person’s potential to play well, as they do not necessarily provide a pianist with agility or technical ability. No matter the size of a pianist’s hands or fingers, they will still need to train their hands to attain a level of flexibility that allows for skillful play. While experienced players with larger hands may have an easier time reaching the keys in some songs, pianists with smaller hands are still capable of performing at a high level.
6. The myth: Practicing the piano means playing a piece all the way through, repeatedly.
The reality: There is a common misconception that the best method of practicing the piano is to play a single piece all the way through from beginning to end until it is perfect. However, approaching practice this way can cause new musicians to become bored and abandon the pursuit of the piano before they ever have the opportunity to play well. Instead, music teachers suggest that the best way to practice is to set small, realistic goals for a practice session, focusing on one section at a time. Experts also state that focusing on a song’s more difficult sections first can allow the piece to come together more efficiently while keeping students more engaged in practice. The brain is more likely to absorb new, shorter snippets of musical information when it isn’t overwhelmed by long, repetitive strings of notes.
7. The myth: I should never look at my hands while I play.
The reality: Some piano teachers insist that their pupils not look at their hands while playing in an attempt to teach them to play and sight read simultaneously. However, many other experts within the music sector disagree and argue that new piano students should be allowed to look at their hands while playing in order to help them visualize the music that they are creating. Looking at their hands can help students establish stronger muscle memory and form a deeper connection to the songs that they perform.