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BE a Marathon Piano Learner, NOT a Sprint Piano Learner

Mizue Murakami

Young woman practicing piano

This blog title may not sound very appealing to the majority of piano learners, especially for young adults. But I need to be honest about this. You need to take small steps one by one, set your expectations low (sounds terrible but real), be patient with your slow progress, be like a marathon runner instead of a sprint runner, and enjoy the process of learning rather than always focusing on the result (your fantasy).

I teach piano and music in the Seattle metropolitan area in the USA. There are a lot of tech companies in the area. And there are a lot of young engineers who work for these tech companies wanting to learn the piano as one of their hobbies. Most of my adult students are engineers as well. And over and over, I see these students having very unrealistic expectations. I guess it's normal for most people to have unrealistic expectations from themselves when they don't know much about what they are getting into. I do the same all the time also. So, I'm not pointing the finger at these students, or piano learners out there in the world. I just want to let everyone know that the piano is like anything else. It takes time to learn, craft the skills, and polish them. It takes many years.

Think about it. If you are a young engineer working for a tech company, you know that you went through a lot to get to the point where you are now. You had to study hard to be good at math and science in schools. You had to go to a good college and study hard there too. Some of you probably even went to graduate schools for farther education. The same applies to piano playing and piano skills as well.

I'm not saying that you are too old to start playing the piano at all. You can start learning the piano completely from zero as an adult. Many of my adult students who were patient with themselves crafted their skills over the years from scratch, one step at a time.

What set apart for those who crafted their skills from those who didn't is only one thing; patience, willingness to progress slowly, and enjoyment of the learning process on the way.

It's like this. You can't sleep many hours one time (for example 24 hours) so that you don't have to sleep for three days after that. You can't eat tons of food one time to the point where you throw up so that you don't have to eat for several days. You just can't do these kinds of behaviors.

You also may have a lot of other hobbies besides piano. You may have a family to spend time with. If you are single, you may have a lot of social activities. There is not enough time left for piano practice either. So, what should you do? Once you become willing to learn slowly and lower your expectations, practice a small amount each time during the week. Work on a fewer number of materials, for example, practice 1 or 2 songs only, instead of 6 songs a week. But focus on those 1 or 2 songs deeply instead. This will give you a sense of accomplishment also. Leave the piano open, and music book open always. Whenever you have a few minutes which you don't know what to spend on, it's a great time to sit at the piano just for several minutes. This way, you get in touch with your piano practice or piano enjoyment more frequently. Practicing more frequently is much better than practicing a lot of minutes or hours only once in a while.

I also highly recommend young adult piano learners to take private lessons. Just 30-minute weekly lesson is plenty. Tell your teacher that you don't have a lot of time to practice, but you are willing to practice consistently on fewer materials every week and to take a step-by-step approach. This way, you can create accountability with your teacher. Find an excellent teacher who is willing to go step by step with you. How to find a good teacher is another deep topic. So, I'll be discussing in the later blog.



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