Time – we never have enough of it. No matter what’s going on in the world, your family, or your day-to-day routine, it’s likely that you’ve been putting some things off because you feel you don’t have enough time for them. In fact, that’s the number one issue I hear about from people who are interested in learning piano! They all want to know: how long does it take to learn piano online?
Perceptions of Time in Piano Learning
There is definitely a perception that piano takes a while to learn – there are a lot of people who have sat through a lot of lessons (1), sometimes for years. And if you’re not one of those people, you probably know one of those people!
Nowadays, you probably also know a lot of people using apps and online courses to learn piano. There’s an undeniable appeal to the flexibility and more modern experience of studying a new skill online. But how long does it take to learn piano online? If your time is limited and you’re wondering if learning online can help, keep reading.
How Long Does it Take to Learn Piano Online
Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.
Think about it, do you know anyone who really has enough time for the things they enjoy? It makes sense that people who want to learn piano would have to be time-conscious. If you are going to start a new hobby, you need to know what you’re getting yourself into. There may never be the “perfect” time, but you should at least have an idea of what to expect.
But just how much time should you set aside if you’re new to piano? What kind of time commitment is necessary to learn to play, and is it all the same for everyone? Do different learning options affect how long this process will take? What about online learning? How long does it take to learn piano online – is it faster than traditional piano lessons?
How Long Does It Actually Take to Learn Piano
On the one hand, we hear about prodigies like Mozart mastering their instrument at an early age (2). And we see amazing videos on YouTube of people who have taught themselves piano. Heck, you’re on a website that has “piano” and “21 days” in the title! So clearly, there are people who can learn faster, and also ways to learn faster in general.
On the other hand, you probably know a ton of people who took a lot of piano lessons with very unimpressive results. You’ve heard people say that the learning never stops.
And if you’ve read my About page, you know that I spent over 12 years of my life in piano lessons, but it took a random teenager at a youth camp to really teach me what I needed to know. So clearly, sometimes it takes a lot longer. But studying longer doesn’t even guarantee good results!
What can we conclude? There is not one “right” amount of time to study piano, and the length of time spent studying doesn’t tell automatically tell us whether someone will play well or not.
Knowing Your Level of Experience and Your Needs
Not everyone has the same needs or the same learning style. So it makes sense that there is no one-size-fits-all piano solution. Just like anything else in life, there are some popular options and some lesser-known ones. But we should make our evaluation based on what works for people with similar goals and experience level, because popularity alone doesn’t mean a particular method is “best” for you.
You need to figure out a few things as you start your piano journey:
Your Experience Level
What you already know and can do (aka your level of experience). Are you:
- A complete beginner
- A kinda-sorta beginner who took a few lessons but didn’t stick with it
- An insecure piano student who took lessons for a while but doesn’t feel confident to play on your own
Or, are you:
- A piano student who can read sheet music (3) but still can’t play songs of your choice without a ton of hassle and stress
- An intermediate player lacks knowledge about chords and improvisation
- An intermediate player who is on an educational track to become a professional pianist
Obviously, depending on your experience level you may need a lot more or less time to achieve your goals. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that more experience automatically means less time needed to learn more. If you already play well but you want to reach the level of a concert pianist, that may take more time than all those other people combined! How long does it take to learn piano is a highly individual question.
Your Piano Goals
What you want to play almost matters more than your actual experience level, at least when it comes to planning how long it will take to learn. Even if you’re not a music expert, I’m sure you realize that playing a Sam Smith song is going to be easier to learn than some piano piece from a Mozart concerto.
And that’s okay! You’re allowed to be interested in playing any or all of these kinds of tunes:
- Radio hits
- Classic oldies
- Church songs
- Jazz standards
- Classical music
- Soundtrack scores
- Didgeridoo anthems (in which case, you are definitely on the wrong website) 😉
The skill and effort you will need to play these different categories (and others) will vary. I bet you can guess which one takes the most work and time… that’s right, classical! But soundtracks, or anything else that is written specifically for sheet music, is a close second. So it stands to reason that people who want to play classical music or arrangement-heavy pieces should expect their piano studies to take a lot more time.
Your Learning Needs
Another important thing to consider is if you have any special learning needs or a learning style that makes certain types of lessons more suited to you. I’ve had a lot of people send me messages like:
“I’m a stay-at-home mom and I can’t take time every week to go to lessons outside my home.”
“Jacques, how long does it take to learn piano online for someone like me who is dyslexic?”
“I learn by repetition, so it’s important to have videos that I can play back and not worry that my teacher is annoyed that I’m wasting their time with me.”
“I’m here because my doctor told me piano would be good for my arthritis! I can only practice about 10 minutes at a time without pain, so I feel like ordinary lessons would be a waste of money.”
“How can I learn piano when I’m living abroad and all the teachers here speak a different language?”
And I’m sure you have your own version of this – reasons why learning online or having a non-traditional lesson structure might be piquing your interest. Maybe you don’t have time, or transportation, or a teacher nearby that fits your needs. Maybe you prefer to study at your own pace and don’t want the time pressure of doing lessons with someone who is “on the clock.”
Your learning needs, just like your goals, will affect what kind of lessons are right for you and how to long learn piano online. The amount of time you spend on your learning process will probably be somewhat unique to you.
Forming an Action Plan
Now, I’m not saying that traditional lessons are bad for everyone. But as you evaluate what you need and want out of your piano lessons, it may become clear to you that traditional lessons aren’t a good fit for you personally.
Okay then, what next? There are several other ways to get started, including:
- Teaching yourself with YouTube tutorials
- Playing by ear (and lots of experimentation)
- Studying music theory books and sites on your own
- Getting a friend to teach you the basics
- “Playing” a piano app
- Taking an online course
Your personal action plan may be to try a bit of everything – and that’s okay. But if you’re trying to figure out how long does it take to learn piano online, chances are you’d rather save some time. After all, that’s why you’re reading this post, right?
An Opinion on the Alternatives
I’m a bit biased, but in my opinion online courses can be one of the fastest ways to learn piano. Modern technology is becoming so great at giving us information access, interactivity, and the ability to learn at our own pace. Not to mention the fact that we can now accomplish so much more from the comfort of our own homes! Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of the concept of online courses.
Online Courses Aren’t All the Same
But not all online courses are created equally. Some are set up in a way that doesn’t make much sense if you want to have a streamline learning experience. For example, some courses have literally hundreds of hours of content to go through. Where to start, and more importantly, how to stay motivated? More lessons don’t necessarily mean better learning.
Other online courses rely on traditional techniques that still take a long time to learn. Which is funny, because I think if you’re going to try something new, it should be… well… new! Why take traditional lessons online, following a standard approach but without the teacher who’s supposed to give you feedback on that approach?
Years? No Thanks
Here’s a quote from an email I received from a student was taking advantage of being stuck at home during lockdown to study piano:
“I saw in their community that it will take at least 2 years to learn all stuff in their app. But I know, I don’t want to be a musical professional to play in a concert or somewhere. All I wanted to do it just play it for myself and my family.”
This person had a very valid concern – they were looking into online courses and were seeing people say it would take years to learn piano that way!
They knew they didn’t want to become professional pianists (4). So it just didn’t make sense that they would still have to devote years to learning in order to enjoy playing for their own enjoyment. And let’s be honest: when someone asks how long does it take to learn piano online, what they’re really asking is how quickly can they learn. That’s why they ended up signing up for my 21-day course. 21 days sounds a lot more manageable, doesn’t it?
How Long to Learn Piano Online
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.
How long it takes to learn piano online – or any other way – will vary. Everyone has their own unique situation, schedule, and learning needs. But if you have a clear framework that leads you through the process as simply as possible, that’s going to really cut down on any unnecessary time-wasting.
If you find lessons that good fit for you, it stands to reason that those resources will make your time count. And that’s really what my 21-day piano course is all about. I don’t require my students to finish the course in exactly 21 days, because I know many are busy with careers, school, kids, and other important things. But with some focus and some intentionality, my approach can get you to the point of playing real songs, really quickly!
How Long Does it Take to Learn Piano Online – Wrapping Up
No one can do the work for you. There is always going to be some time and practice involved – even if you’re excited about how long it takes to learn piano online. Deep down, you know this. There is no magic pill for learning piano!
But aside from that, how you choose to learn piano will have some of the biggest impact on how long that process takes you. So if you are looking for something short and sweet that actually works (5), you are in the right place – Piano In 21 Days could be exactly what you need. 😉
- Associated Press, Piano stores closing across US as kids snub lessons for other activities, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jan/02/piano-stores-closing-kids-snub-lessons-compete-technology
- The Guardian, A musical genius? No, Mozart was just a hard-working boy, https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/jan/01/arts.music
- Wikipedia, Sheet Music, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheet_music
- Sara Royster, Careers for music lovers, https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/careers-for-music-lovers.htm
- NATIONAL RESEARCH UNIVERSITY HIGHER SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS, An experimental study demonstrates the effectiveness of online learning, https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-04/nruh-aes040720.php