October 10, 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.

Many adults contemplate the idea of starting to play the piano, but they do not always know where to begin. “Is there a book I can buy?”, “Shall I look on YouTube?”, “Shall I rather contact a piano teacher or a music school?”, “Is it even possible for me as an adult to learn how to play the piano?”. So many questions go through their minds that they often exhaust themselves looking for the answer and lose the courage to take any action. They feel lost and do not know who to turn to.

I completely understand that adults are often afraid to learn a new skill. They think that it might anyway be too late and that their efforts will be in vain. Is it not easier not to have any “crazy” ideas and stay in our comfort zone? It feels so cosy. Why trying something which we might not be good at? Why exposing ourselves to potential shame and failure?

man practising piano at home

If we have a specific dream in mind, the first step is to take the first leap of faith and make the firm decision to take action. Hesitating and procrastinating makes us waste time, and delaying could result in us not starting and finally regretting.

If you want to learn how to play the piano, you should go for it in the right way: Contact either a piano school or a private piano teacher. I appreciate that you would prefer to do research first and see if you could learn independently. It seems so much easier. No need to commit to anything or possibly making a fool of yourself in front of a professional. It seems to be the best solution. Excellent! You can now try secretly and give up anytime if you are not good at it!

man performing on the piano

It sounds like a terrific solution, don’t you think?

As a pianist and manager of The London Piano Institute, a piano academy for adults located in the heart of the City, I would strongly advise not to take this apparent easy road which is a dead end. It looks like a great road to success but trying to learn how to play the piano by yourself is unfortunately not going to work.

Throughout my career as a piano teacher for adults in London, I have met many adults who purchased a few piano books and watched some YouTube tutorials before coming to see me. They thought this learning method would work well, but they soon realised that they needed a piano teacher to guide them through their piano journey.

man playing on the grand piano

Would you learn swimming in a book and jump into the pool to check whether you can apply the few techniques you have just read about? I would strongly recommend you to learn piano playing with a professional. I do not doubt that. All the world greatest pianists had a piano teacher, so why would it be different for you?

Depending on your preference, you can either study with a private piano teacher or a reputable piano school for adults. A private teacher could offer more flexibility, but taking that route will make you face a significant issue: Who should you study with? Thousands of pianists list their services on various advertising online platforms, and choosing the right instructor for you could turn into a nightmare. You could probably make a selection of the ten best and book an introductory lesson with each of them to see if you like their personality teaching style.

But how do you know if they teach well since you are new to piano playing? You could ask them for their CV, but you must remember that a pianist who has won several international piano competitions is not necessary a good teacher. He is undoubtedly a brilliant pianist, but does he have enough patience and teaching experience to take you on as a pupil? Will he be available for your weekly piano lessons, or will he cancel two classes out of five because he must travel to New York, Paris or Hong Kong to perform Rachmaninov 2nd concerto?

hands playing the grand piano

You might think I am biased, but I would strongly recommend you to join a reputable piano school for adults as you can be assured that everything that could go wrong when selecting a private piano teacher will go well.

Managers of piano schools are usually professional musicians who know how to select the right piano teachers. They will choose them for their fantastic aptitude to play the piano and their excellent teaching skills as well as for their friendly personalities. In addition, a school always appoints an administrator who is in charge of scheduling your piano lessons. Therefore, your course is usually exceptionally well organised, and there is no surprise around the corner! You can be assured to be in good hands and well-catered for. I believe that feeling at peace when starting your piano lessons is essential to enjoy your education thoroughly.

And think of that: If amazing people have spent countless hours putting adult music schools together to offer you the privilege to study in a relaxed and non-judgmental atmosphere perfectly suited to your needs, why would you take the risk to walk in the dark in a world that you are totally unfamiliar with?

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