September 15, 2021

About the Author: Celine Gaurier-Joubert

Founder of The London Piano Institute, Celine Gaurier-Joubert is a concert pianist and one of the world’s leading experts on piano education for adults.

I’m always perplexed by most adults’ attitudes toward piano playing. Most adults begin and then stop after a few weeks. I don’t understand why they embark on such a wonderful journey and then abandon ship at the first hurdle.

I’ve been teaching piano for over 20 years and I’ve noticed a consistent pattern: 9 out of 10 adults stop taking piano lessons after 6 months. Some of them stop even earlier. It happens not only with my students, but also with people who take classes with my colleagues.

Adults appear to have a misunderstanding about piano playing. When they begin their piano lessons, they appear to have a completely different idea in mind. I could be wrong, but I believe the problem is there: They have no idea what they have agreed to. They believe it will be quick and simple, and that they will be able to add it to their list of hobbies. They are unaware that playing the piano requires practice and consistency to be effective.

woman practising the piano

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I’m not saying that it’ll be a difficult journey and that you should avoid it. I simply want you to begin in the right frame of mind in order to avoid disappointment.

Here’s what the crowd is doing: They begin their piano lessons with great zeal. They are eager to attend their first three lessons and practice diligently in between. Life is beautiful, and they are very motivated. They are confident that they will be able to play their favourite pieces very soon and that the fundamentals will be mastered very quickly. They have no problem purchasing a beginner piano book and diligently performing all of the exercises. Everything is going swimmingly, and they are floating on a cloud of happiness. Their piano teacher is pleased with their progress, and they leave each lesson feeling empowered.

Everything changes with the introduction of a single stumbling block. They become frustrated and impatient. They refuse to acknowledge that it will take time and that piano playing cannot be learned overnight. They begin to lose motivation, practice less, and attend their lessons less frequently. After a few weeks, the email arrives: “It is with deep regret that I must inform you that I must discontinue my piano lessons for personal reasons.”

man playing the piano

It’s truly heartbreaking to see a dream snuffed out so quickly. I believe that adults who decide to learn a new skill do so because they are genuinely interested in it. Nobody, as far as I know, has pushed them into it…

Here’s what a successful adult piano student does: The future successful amateur pianist acts in a completely different manner. He is usually not overly enthusiastic at first. He does not declare in the first lesson that he is extremely motivated and that he will do whatever it takes and stay for several years until all of the grade exams are successfully completed. On the contrary, he is unassuming, attends his piano lessons weekly without fail, and practices daily for weeks on end. He approaches any difficulty quietly and inquires about it with his piano teacher. He stacks the deck in his favour in order to succeed and do so brilliantly. He is content to endure the setbacks and plateaus that will be a part of the journey. He doesn’t pay too much attention to his progress. He just practices and goes to piano lessons. He makes little fuss about himself and begins climbing the success ladder through discipline and consistency.

music sheet on the piano

The difference in their behavior is significant, and the results are predictable. As I previously stated, I have encountered both types of students and can now identify those who will give up at the first sign of difficulty.

Make your dreams come true by not following the crowd. Do not fall into the trap of creating your own disappointment by having unrealistic expectations. Learning a new skill takes time, but you can be successful if you listen to your piano teacher’s advice, attend your piano lessons on a regular basis, and devote time to personal practice every day. There is no other way to become a proficient pianist, but by following these simple rules, you can be certain that your efforts will be rewarded.

I am frequently amused when I consider the responses that these unfaithful people would give if their children told them after three piano lessons, “mum, it is too hard, I don’t want to play the piano anymore.” I’m sure they’ll say they should practice and keep going!

hands playing the piano

I’m sure you got the point. If you want to be successful, you must persevere in the face of adversity. You may encounter difficulties not only in your piano playing but also in your personal or professional life. Things can go wrong and prevent you from practicing as much as you would like. In these trying times, I always advise my students not to put their piano lessons on hold or to stop practicing. I always encourage them to persevere during difficult times because life has its ups and downs and the situation can change quickly again.

It’s fine if you have less time than usual. Share your feelings or situation with your piano teacher, who will be more than happy to help you retain your knowledge and revise until the clouds lift and you can get back on track.

Piano playing is a wonderful activity that will undoubtedly bring you a lot of joy, so keep going and don’t give up. You will undoubtedly reap the benefits of your hard work if you are disciplined and consistent!

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