Play the piano - a brilliant decision at any age!

by Elke Galvin October 05, 2022 • 11 minute read
Whether you start to play in your younger years or as an adult - it’s worth it! The piano is the perfect instrument to take up at any age!
teacher playing piano with little girl
In this article, we cover the most pressing questions every beginner wants to know the answer to. You will learn what to look for when buying a piano (and what to avoid), whether you do or do not need a teacher, and how to find one, whether you need to learn sight-reading music, how much time to dedicate to your instrument, and how you can use online tools to accelerate your progress. Also, you will learn about the advantages of learning the piano at various ages throughout life - because it's never too late (or too early).
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The Piano YOU Need - Do's and Don'ts

If you read a couple of piano blogs or magazines, you'll be confronted, and very likely rather confused, by the sheer amount of piano models out there. But not everything that sports black and white keys is a piano, and not every piano will meet your specific needs. Here are some points to consider as a first-time piano buyer:


  • If you play the keys of a digital piano, they need to feel "heavy". Try an acoustic piano to learn how it's supposed to feel, then try out a few digital pianos with "weighted keys" (the technical term) to find one that feels nice to play. If the keys bounce back immediately after you have pressed them down, you're playing a keyboard, not a piano (even if the sign says "piano". You want a piano. With weighted keys.
  • If you want to buy an acoustic piano, consider additional costs for professional transportation and tuning about once a year. Also, you can't move it around a lot - find a place where it can be for the foreseeable future.
  • If you need to transport your piano, move a lot, or have little space, opt for a stage piano - a digital piano without a stand that you can easily pack up and take with you.
  • Invest in a solid 4-legged foldable stand if you do buy a stage piano. If you buy a (cheaper) X-stand, your piano will hop around on it if you play more vigorously.


  • Forget you will need a piano chair, too. If you buy a digital stage piano, you will need a stand.
  • Forget you will need a proper sustain pedal for your digital stage piano. If they come with a strange black thing that does not look like a pedal, buy a proper one separately.
  • Think more expensive is better. By all means indulge yourself if you've got the means, but if not, a good second-hand acoustic or digital piano will suffice very well if you don't wish to become a virtuoso touring the world.
  • Think any cheap thing with black and white keys will do since you're a beginner. Make sure the piano holds its tuning and all the keys work.
  • Think you only need 60 keys since you're a beginner. You need all 88, and they need to be weighted.
  • Buy the digital one with the 1649 different sound options. You need a piano sounding like a piano. The rest is optional. But make sure you actually buy a piano, not a synthesizer.
A woman performing at a piano

How to Start Playing at Your Age

Strangely enough, many would-be beginners ask:

"What is the best age to start playing?"

The answer obviously is: "If you haven't already started, it's the age you are right now!" If you start right now, you can become the best piano-playing version of yourself. If you don't start, you won't. Of course, if you start playing at, say, the age of 76, you probably won't expect to become a professional concert pianist. But there's no reason you won't be able to play well enough in a few years. So the "best age" to start playing is mostly defined by your goals and ambitions. And most ages have their own challenges, and advantages, to starting your piano playing.

Starting as a child

Children can start having piano lessons very early. The logical order of the keys from low to high and the simple way of producing the tone motivate and encourage learning. There is a ton of beginner material focusing on children. Studies have shown that children who play the piano surpass their peers when it comes to the ability to concentrate and motor skills.

But don’t worry: You are very capable of learning to play the piano even if you haven’t started at age 3 to 4. - OKTAV

Starting as a teenager/young adult

Many people take up playing the piano at that age, and often study a mix of classical and contemporary literature. They experience the positive effects first-hand - especially on self-confidence, which is often a big issue at that age. Being able to express yourself through music also helps master the ups and downs of growing up. At this age, young pianists are often very self-motivated. Playing the piano also helps shape and broaden their taste in music.

Starting at ages 30 to 50

Music is a fabulous de-stressor! This is why you should make time to play the piano even if you're struggling to juggle your job and family. The piano is the perfect instrument for you - only a quarter of an hour of practice per day is enough for beginners, and a digital piano allows you to practice with headphones (e.g. when the kids are sleeping). Starting at this point in your life has its advantages: You know what you want. You want to follow your taste in music, and you want time-saving digital piano learning options.

Starting at age 50+

Less pressure from your job and family leaves time for a new hobby - the perfect moment to start learning the piano! You might wonder whether it makes any sense to start “at your age”. Be assured it does! The brain never loses the ability to learn. You’ll learn more slowly, but steadily. And you are not alone - the last years have seen a steady increase in the number of people starting to learn the piano in their later years. In response to that, there are more classes available for adult learners, especially private and online classes.

Young boy playing the piano

How to tackle challenges you may experience

Now that we have discussed that you can absolutely start to play the piano at any age and make progress & have fun, let's talk about the challenges you may come across. As you read through them, you will notice that perhaps all of them can be solved by either a change of attitude or a change of approach. Or sometimes, both.

Challenges as a Child: SO much to explore!

Sticking with it. Life is full of new discoveries and exciting things and activities to explore! So sitting down every day or every other day and practicing your piano can seem a bit daunting. If a child genuinely does not want to continue playing the piano, parents should not force it. But if it's just a matter of finding time to fit in a busy schedule of piano, violin, soccer, sleepovers, horse-riding, and what-have-you, parents may want to consider downsizing, say, music to one activity instead of two, and sports to one activity instead of two. Most children are happy to have more unstructured time, and then are more motivated to dedicate time to an instrument. Also, make sure the child is not overwhelmed by practice time and material. Ten minutes per day might be plenty for a young pianist starting out. And let the child have a say in the choice of repertoire!

Challenges as a Teenager/Young Adult: All or nothing!

When we are younger, we tend to have extreme feelings: We hover between exclaiming “I will be a piano star!” and “there’s no point continuing, I’m such a loser!” Sometimes you don’t feel like being told what to play by a teacher. But whoever stops playing at this age tends to regret it later.

Understand that there are strenuous times when you will just have to grind your way through, and there are fantastic times when playing the piano is fun and easy.

It might be time to look for another teacher or discover a new genre of music.

Challenges at age 30 to 50: Not enough time!

No time juggling family and job - and the first thing thrown out the window is piano practice. You feel too exhausted to practice, or like having to accomplish stuff in your free time puts even more pressure on you.

Reserve non-negotiable time for you, come what may. Your family needs to accept this! Even if it is only a quarter of an hour per day. Take the foot off the gas pedal - understand that for you, at this point in your life, enjoying and relaxing while playing comes first. If you need to, change to a teacher who understands this.

And treat yourself to playing exactly the music you need to be happy and relaxed.

Challenges at age 50+: Not enough self-confidence

No other age group wonders as intensely whether there’s any point at all in starting to study the piano. After all, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, or can you?

Brain research shows this is wrong. You can play the piano quite wonderfully at any age, and it even keeps the brain young and fit.

Whoever starts playing at age 60 might have 20, 30, or even 40 years of piano playing ahead of them. Well, that’s what we call plenty of time to become a pianist!

woman playing the piano

How to use the Internet to Speed Up Your Progress

Thirty years ago, there was your piano, your teacher, and your sheets of music. For inspiration, your teacher would play the piece for you and say

"This is what it is supposed to sound like!" - Your teacher, 30 years ago

And you would nod and try to remember what it was supposed to sound like when you practiced at home. With luck, you would get hold of a CD with a recording of the piece. Your teacher would tell you which sheet music to go buy, and you would go buy it. Or you would buy a whole book to just play one piece you're interested in. Well, that was 30 years ago. Things have changed.

As a Child - Piano Games

It is such fun to look at the video of how the piece should sound! There are fantastic ear training apps out there that turn learning intervals into a game.

Teenagers/Young Adults - Music at Your Fingertip

Teenagers and twens+ use digital sheet music as a matter of course. You discover new music on your mobile and are used to having all your arrangements at your fingertip - on your tablet. Lessons in your preferred genre might not be available in your town, but certainly online. Perhaps you are following a piano player who lives far away on Youtube.

Age 30 to 50 - Online Lessons and Sheet Music

Students between 30 and 50 love that they can save time when selecting new songs to play if they choose to subscribe to a digital sheet music platform. Also, they can use commuting time to listen to new music that they want to try. Lessons from a piano teacher in a communal music school might be restricted to children and young adults. Students aged 30+ turn to online lessons instead, which helps them save time and enables them to customize their learning experience.

treat yourself to one of their live-classes. Or you prefer coachings whenever you need them to weekly lessons.

Age 50+ - Masterclasses and Eye-Friendly Digital Solutions

Pianists of a more advanced age know exactly which music they want to play. They choose their preferred sheet music from their favorite genres and enjoy having conveniences like the Autoscroll and Score Roll feature which makes reading sheet music less strenuous. If you don't take regular lessons you may prefer online coaching whenever you feel you need it. As a special treat, you book a live masterclass with your favorite Youtuber.

There's one issue that many people your age are concerned with, but hardly anyone talks about: Reading difficulty. If that sheet music is getting harder and harder to read, it might be a good idea to switch to a digital solution that allows you to customize the size of the sheet music, e.g. a service offering the "Score-Roll" feature. Save your energy and concentration for your playing, not for deciphering tiny notes!

Youtube, platforms, and blogs are an abundant source of learning materials and inspiration for any age. From free tutorials to digital method books - former generations can only dream of the variety and sheer quantity of instructional content available nowadays. If you discover “your” favorite piano prodigies to follow, they’ll keep you going whatever your age. And you have thousands of pieces of sheet music right at your fingertips wherever you go!

Woman playing piano while looking at piano sheet music on a mobile device

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

  • How do I save costs when starting to play the piano?
    You can save costs from day 1 if you buy a good used piano. Lessons cost, too. Think about how often you want to take lessons. If you start out, investing in weekly lessons to make sure you train with a good posture from the beginning may pay off. After that, older and more independent learners can do quite well with self-study and occasional coaching. You can also save money shopping for digital sheet music - costs for single purchases can run up quite quickly. A subscription service with a flat rate could come cheaper.
  • How do I find a good teacher?
    A good piano teacher puts your taste in music and your aims above his own. They know what you need and will not dish out constant praise, but correct you when and where necessary. And you’ll have to get along with each other, person-to-person as well as musically. A more motherly kind of teacher might be ideal for little pianists. Teenagers/young adults might want to look up to a “cool teacher” (whatever that means). Older, adult learners need a considerate and flexible teacher that encourages them and caters to their specific requirements and tempo.
  • What learning style is ideal for me?
    Think about how much time you are ready to invest. Do you want the usual once-a-week piano lessons in a music school? Or would you prefer some kind of online lessons? If the latter, would you prefer a prerecorded video course or individual distance learning? As an adult piano student, choose an offer that takes your taste in music into account. We also recommend reading piano blogs that evaluate available online classes.
  • Do I have to read sheet music?
    Of course, you can play the piano without reading music, by ears and chord symbols. This can be a very relaxing way of easing into playing the piano, especially for adults who already know loads of songs. Maybe you just like to sing and accompany yourself with a few gentle chords. But the moment for reading music will come one day. One day, you’ll want to play something a bit more complex! In the beginning, it will take some effort on your part, but - it’s a bit like reading books - you will soon discover how convenient it is to read music and be able to play whatever delights you.

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