Learning to Play Piano Later in Life: Is it Ever Too Late?

We’ve all heard the old anecdote that faultily says “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

I say it’s faulty for several reasons:

  1. The word “can’t” just doesn’t apply to music as I have experienced it.
  2. Your age does not necessarily make you “old.”
  3. The fact that you have seen some years and have some life experience does not mean that you are a “dog.”

But since you’re here, I think it’s safe to assume you’re interested in becoming an adult piano student.  And so, that’s why in this article, I’m going to discuss the idea of learning to play the piano later in life.  There are a lot of people—perhaps even you—that may think too many years have passed and it would be too challenging to learn the piano instrument.

I’m here today to dispel that myth, and put you on a path towards learning to play the piano.

  • If you’re interested in learning how to play piano or keyboard in a fun and interactive fashion, then look no further then Piano for All. This course features 10 in-depth eBooks that contain 200 video lessons and 500 audio lessons. And best of all, the course works on PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, or any Android phone or tablet.  Get your copy of Piano for All today while supplies last!

And if you’re in the market for a brand new digital piano, then check out the table below, where you can compare some of the best digital pianos on the market against one another:

Yamaha P-515
Casio PX-870
Yamaha YDP-165
Roland RP-102
Casio PX 560Casio PX-560

Frequently Asked Questions

First, let’s address some Frequently Asked Question.

  • I. Isn’t It True That Kids Learn Piano Faster Than Adults?

In my experience, it is true that kids and adults both learn different things faster than one another. Children have (often) an excitability about learning piano while adults have self-awareness and test-driven skill-sets than can help them learn certain things faster than can a 5 year-old.

  • II. How do I learn piano at an older age?

Honestly, you learn piano at an older age the same way you would as a younger student:

  1. Find a teacher.
  2. Sign up for lessons.
  3. Discuss your goals.
  4. Set up a lesson plan.
  5. Practice your lessons according to plan to the best of your ability.
  6. Do the work and enjoy the experience to the fullest!

  • III. What if my reflexes aren’t quite so quick or my hands aren’t as fast as they once were?

I know the feeling. The truth is that your reflexes and hands are as quick and limber as they are now in the present moment.

Your teacher should easily be able to help you with proper hand positioning and body language to get the most out of what you have.

Learning piano as an adult and practicing certain exercises can actually help relieve you of some of the adult issues you might have with flexibility, pain, etc.

In fact, as I got older, I noticed that I could not have been happier to get back to warm-up piano exercises, scales and my Hanon exercises.

Why?  Because my fingers and hands felt better than they had in years.

At the end of the day, there are some major benefits to playing the piano.

  • IV. Is it too late to learn the piano if I’m an older person?

Nope. The oldest beginner student I ever had was 85 years old when she signed up for my lessons. I’ll tell you her amazing story a little later.  But the point is, it’s never to late to learn, so go pursue your passion while you still can.

  • V. Will it be too difficult?

No, it won’t be too difficult. That being said, there will be challenges that are specifically applicable to learning the piano as an adult. There are challenges to it at any age and there will be difficulties.

And yes, the ones you face as an adult can be different at times than those you’d face as a younger student.

You’ve got bills on your mind and maybe children of your own, etc. You do manual labor or take martial arts and maybe your hands are not going to change shape anymore.

There is an endless amount of things adults can have to worry about other than piano, but what I’ve learned in is to:

Set reasonable expectations for yourself. At 85 years old you might not be setting out to tour the world playing piano bars and learning “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the request list.

But I know you can be playing Bach, Beethoven, beautiful minuets and intermediate piano pieces that bring total joy to your life.

  • If you’re interested in learning how to play piano or keyboard in a fun and interactive fashion, then look no further then Piano for All. This course features 10 in-depth eBooks that contain 200 video lessons and 500 audio lessons. And best of all, the course works on PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, or any Android phone or tablet.  Get your copy of Piano for All today while supplies last!

At 40 years old, you likely have a lot on your mind that might distract your focus and take away from practice time. That’s ok. It’s life. Be reasonable and you’ll enjoy the whole piano student experience exponentially more than you ever thought you could.

Know your present strengths and limitations. Know that more will come and it will all be constantly changing as you expand as a student.

Understand how it feels when you first play the piano keys and take in what feels difficult with the same, motivated and positive attitude you take in that which feels easy.

This is likely going to change a little bit each and every lesson too, so expect the journey to have some amazing turns!

Discuss what you just read in numbers 1 and 2 of this list with your teacher. Be open and honest with them about what you feel and are experiencing because that is how he/she will be able to help you to the best of their ability.

Don’t overshoot without the realistic expectation of having some setbacks (we all have them).

Then do overshoot knowing that sometimes you’re going to do better than expected and it’s going to be a joyous occasion for you as a developing musician.

Understand this; once you’ve mastered one aspect of the piano and move on the next aspect, the 1st that you mastered often seems to be less-mastered than you originally thought.

This is a normal thing and it happens because you’ve added an additional factor into the equation. You have to spread your concentration out over 2 things now instead of 1 and that “1” thing gets less attention to detail.

What I said directly above in number 6 of this list can happen with each new thing you add to your skill sets. You climb the stairs; you reach a plateau. You climb more stairs; you reach another plateau.

Sometimes you go back down a few steps and sometimes you leap up a flight in one fell swoop. Either way you keep on climbing and never stop the journey.

So again…no, it will not be too difficult. Pace yourself accordingly by setting reasonable expectations discussed with your teacher and enjoy the climb!

  • VI. Is learning the piano something that needs to be done when you’re a young person?

Again…Nope! It is scientifically proven that as children we are prone to absorbing information. But as adults we have the advantages of knowing ourselves and again, understanding the concepts of being reasonable; of being patient and persistent.

If you can start at age 85 and end up playing Bach’s Minuet in G by the time you finish lessons then there is no way you need to start piano lessons as a young person.

Learn Piano at Any Age

The two oldest, beginner students that had started lessons with me were 70 and 85-years old, respectively. The 70-year old male a retired college professor and 85 year-old woman had saved up piano-lesson-money for over 75 years and used the interest that built up to finally do what she always wanted to as a child – take piano lessons.

The professor left lessons having arranged, performed on and recorded a version of his favorite song.

The 85 year old woman was the one who left lessons playing Bach as you read above.

These were remarkable people who lived long, full lives already and then added piano lessons to their list of many accomplishments.

They had some struggles, sure. But they overcame them. You can too and I’m going to give you a few brief and final pointers as we draw this article to a close.

Practicing and Playing the Piano at Home

Ahhhh…this is a big one.

First of all, record your lessons with your teacher each week in any way possible. In this modern world it should be quite easy to turn on a voice or video recorder in your smart phone and record the entire session.

Most teachers should be ok with this but it’s always courteous to ask first. I absolutely encourage it and here’s why:

  1. You get more for your money because anything you forget you can review from the recording.
  2. We always forget something from our lessons.
  3. You have (hopefully) and example of your teacher’s performance of your current lesson/practice pieces on the recording. Therefore you can refer to it and strive to match it as frequently as you like.

Second of all, don’t go easy on yourself. Keep up your work ethic as if your teacher was actually present.

Third, don’t be too hard on yourself, either. It’s the piano. It’s music. It’s beautiful and/or it rocks. Have fun and enjoy the experience!

Finally, if you can’t record your lessons for whatever reason, make sure to ask your teacher to provide lesson notes/plans each week that you fully understand.

Or take the notes yourself. Either way, ask questions and leave each lesson fully understanding where you are and where you’re headed as a piano player/student.

And if you forget something during the week, well…that’s what the recordings and notes are for.


It’s not too late. In fact, it’s the perfect time. So why are you still here and not out searching for teachers?

Thanks for reading and best of luck as a new, adult student!

If you’re still interested in learning how to play piano or keyboard, get your copy of Piano for All today, which features 10 eBooks, 200 video piano lessons and 500 audio piano lessons!

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