Watch out for Destination Fever... how long does it take to learn to play piano, really?
Do you want to learn piano fast? You might have seen some online ads that claim that you’ll learn to play piano quickly or in just a few easy lessons. I wish that were true, I wish that shit was true.
This question “How long does it take to learn to play piano?” implies an expectation that there is a certain amount of time before you can “play”, opposed to learning, and that there is some point of finality, as in “I have reached my destination.” That's destination fever.
Musical mastery is a journey, not a destination. If learning an instrument were like learning to drive you could take a few lessons, take a test and voila, you have a licence and you’re officially a musician.
Most people don’t become better drivers over time. We all know people who have been driving for decades and still can’t parallel park.
With music there is constant improvement and progress. Learning music and mastering an instrument is a journey, not a destination.
When I was 11 years old I began attending church and I was struck by gospel music. I had never heard anything like it and I wanted to be involved.
I started out in the youth choir and promptly realised that I wasn’t much good at it but I was fascinated by the musicians. I was inspired. I made up my mind that I wanted to learn to play the piano quickly and efficiently, so I started taking lessons.
At my first piano lesson the teacher taught me how to find middle C. I wasn’t interested in middle C, I wanted to play the music I heard in church. While my teacher was giving me proper traditional piano lessons I did my own learning on the side because I was determined to “catch up” with the other church musicians.
I had a lot of ground to cover so had to learn piano fast. I used to lie awake at night praying to God that he would bless me with the ability to play piano like a pro by the next morning.
Of course it didn’t happen quite like that.
After two years I had reached a level of proficiency that I was able to play morning service at church and accompany the choir on some songs.
After three years I had developed enough to be invited to play my first international gig. Myself and another church musician were invited to play for a choir and service in Connecticut, U.S.
After 5 years I had my first steady paying gig as a choir accompanist for a church that I wasn’t a member of and I had my first gigs in a function band.
After 6 years I was on a 12 month international tour with Up with People group as a keys player.
At year 7 I began working as a full-time musician and after 8 years of playing I started studying music at Berklee College of Music.
It was in year number 10 that I finally felt secure enough to say to people that I play piano.
After 10 years, or approximately 10,000 hrs, I could finally, truly say with confidence that I play the piano.
But as far as anyone else was concerned, I had ALWAYS been a piano player.
That was over 20 years ago and I’m still learning.
There is always more to learn and room for improvement. The point is that learning piano or any instrument is a journey, not a destination.
I hope this video encourages you to follow through with your dream of learning to play piano because it’s fun and I really hope you enjoy it.