How long does it take to learn the piano?

by Elke Galvin October 27, 2022 • 4 minute read
You have decided to start learning the piano, and now you wonder how long it is going to take you. Here, you'll find out how to have the best start on 88 keys, and speed-learn.
Someone playing the piano
Do you know what to expect when you learn the piano? And what you can do to make sure you'll progress quickly? We'll tell you how, with a positive attitude and a "piano player mindset" you can make your piano journey as joyful as possible.
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Develop the mindset of a piano player

Like in sports, playing the piano is not so much about being "gifted" or having the perfect "equipment". The outcome of your piano journey will depend on the mindset you start out with.

Your results will sound like your practice routine

This is probably one of the most important rules when learning to play the piano: The more conscientious and musically expressively you practice, the better your results will be. If you think it is enough of a challenge to make your fingers reproduce the melody please consider that habits once established (like monotonous playing) are very hard to drop. So concentrate on playing expressively from the get-go.

"All in" from the beginning

When learning to drive you had to learn to coordinate the pedals, the steering wheel, traffic signs, and traffic rules. Then you had to match your reaction to all that was happening around you - overwhelming at first, wasn't it? Learning to play the piano can be a bit like that. Pay attention to instructions like "piano" (play quietly) or "crescendo" (increase loudness) right from the start. Fingerings are like cheat sheets and will help a lot when you practice.

Integrate practice into your everyday life

It is not ideal from a continuity point of view to practice for three hours on Sundays and ignore your instrument for the rest of the week. It is much better to practice daily. This lets you connect more easily to where you have left off the day before. 15 minutes per day after your evening meal (or whenever your daily routine allows) will add up to 1,75 hours of pure piano exercise time per week. If you can do more daily, do more.

Learn what you really want to play

There are basics that you just have to learn (play simple melodies, chords, and a couple of scales). But as soon as you are able to practice songs and shorter pieces, choose the ones you really like. Motivation is important - and the more you play pieces you really enjoy the more likely it is that you will persist with learning the piano.

someone playing a flower-decorated piano

3 Helpful Aspects of a Positive Attitude

It won't take you long to learn the piano if you add a positive attitude to your piano player mindset:

Set realistic goals

If people give up the piano after a short time they have probably had unclear expectations of what "playing the piano" means. Plan realistic milestones you can reach within short periods of time. This will motivate you to keep practicing. So no "I will play Beethoven's Sonata Op. 106 Nr. 29 in Bflat-major" or "I will play Chopin's Etude Op. 10 No. 12" - you might eventually be able to, but a more achievable goal can be to play "Für Elise" by Ludwig van Beethoven within the first two years of learning, and "Wellerman" within the first half year.

Positive self-reflection

Many teenagers and adults are much more self-critical than children. Kids enjoy the skills they have instead of focusing on what they lack. Try to be aware of what you have already mastered: You can play a scale. You can play the chords to your favorite song. Great, keep going!

Practice is self-care

After work, you rush to shop for the groceries, then do the laundry, then practice the piano. Stop it! Playing the piano should not become yet another chore. Try to see it as a self-care opportunity. You are focusing on doing something for yourself, something that makes you happy (more intelligent, more creative, more empathic, it relaxes you...)!

a girl and a woman sitting in front of a piano

Expect This if You Practice for 20 Minutes each Day

After one month

  • Correct back and hand posture
  • Read easy sheet music
  • Play the C-major scale with each hand (and correct fingering)
  • Play with both hands
  • Play intervals

After 2 months

  • Play chords and cadences
  • Play an easy piece with both hands
  • Play expressively - vary dynamics, play more quietly, more loudly,...

After 3 months

  • Simple piano pieces (easy rhythm, calm left hand)
  • Use the pedal
  • Play expressively
hands on a piano

Genres Ranked According to Difficulty

While there are difficult songs and easy songs in every genre, there are general tendencies as to when you can expect to play the average repertoire of each genre.


After a few weeks, you should be able to play melodies of your favorite Pop songs. You might even be able to play a few tones with your left hand.


Classical music for piano can mean a lot. It includes simple minuets as well as difficult pieces by Chopin. After a few months, you will be able to play your first pieces of Classical music (probably by W. A. Mozart or J.S. Bach).


To play Jazz on the piano you should have some repertoire under your belt. Jazz is all about freely embellishing and improvising to the music - much more than about learning the exact notation. The latter would probably only take up about a third of your practice time. To start on Jazz, you should probably have played the piano for about a year.

Elke Galvin
Elke Galvin is a British-Austrian singer, multi-instrumentalist, and writer. She has worked both as a musician and journalist for over 25 years. Not only is she an acclaimed songwriter, she loves to write about music, too! Making music theory easy to understand is her passion, as is writing about music styles, music and the brain, and how to have fun learning and playing music.

Frequently asked questions

  • Why does it take so long to play the piano?
    Playing the piano requires coordination. To learn coordination, we have to repeat sequences and repeat them again. Like when first learning to drive a car, we have to translate signs into simultaneous, coordinated actions of hands, eyes, feet, and ears. Do not frustrate yourself by setting unreachable goals. Take baby steps.
  • How can I start?
    You'll find many piano learning methods online. They'll often differ slightly in their approach. Just try a few (free trials are usually available) and stay with the one that best suits you. If you don't want to bother with much web research you can just start by practicing scales. We also recommend you read sheet music from day 1. You`ll want to be able to do it in the future (trust us!), and starting out doing it until it feels natural will save you a lot of time.
  • How long do I have to practice in order to be able to play the piano?
    As long as you like, is the natural answer. Even though this might seem vague it's true. If you have fun, continue learning. If you really don't enjoy it on a particular day, don't force yourself. It is generally best to make practicing a daily habit - perhaps for a lifetime, who knows?

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