I often get asked by new students about how long it would take to master the piano. To become a master or an expert at any skill requires a lot of time, energy, and hard work. Whether it is playing the piano, painting, dancing or even practising medicine, law or business, most people must set aside time and put in a lot of hard work if they are keen on developing a skill.
The 10,000 Hour Rule
In his bestselling book “Outliers: The Story of Success”, Malcolm Gladwell introduces us to the concept of the 10,000 Hour Rule which states that – to achieve world-class expertise in any skill you must put in around 10,000 hours of deliberate practise. While such rules and numbers can be contested, and various other factors that come to play, it gives us something to work with. How much does 10,000 hours translate to? The below table shows how many years it would take to complete 10,000 hours if you practised a specified number of hours every day.
Practise Hours per Day
Years to Complete 10K Hours*
*Decimals rounded off
Looks depressing? Let us assume you want to become a doctor. How many years do you think it would take before you are appointed as the head/senior doctor of your specialisation in a hospital? Close to 6 years of medical school and another 10+ years of practice before you can consider such a position. It is the same case with any skill you take.
Ask yourself two questions:
Why do you want to play?
In the 10,000 Hour Rule, it is important to highlight the words “world class expertise”. World class expertise is often seen in classical concert pianists who start intensive training in piano from childhood and spend at least 10-15 years trying to perfect their craft. They dedicate their entire life and make a lot of personal sacrifices for the art form. Such people would have easily spent 10,000 hours (probably more) practising their craft. However, not everyone’s goal is to become a world class piano expert or a concert pianist. If you know the reason why to want to learn the piano, you can set realistic goals accordingly. A lot of us just want to play the piano because we love music, it brings us joy, or it calms our minds and that is completely fine. Such people need not think about practising for 10,000 hours and sacrificing their personal life to learn an instrument. You can practise at your own pace and comfort level as long as it is fulfilling and satisfying.
What do you want to play?
The kind of music you want to play also determines the skill level you would need to acquire. If you want to play popular music and straightforward chord progressions, you would be able to do that if you are someone with an intermediate skill level. However, if your goal is to play advanced classical repertoire by the great composers like Liszt, Chopin, Rachmaninov, and others, you should consider looking at how you can achieve those 10,000 hours of deliberate practise or at least something close to it.
The 80-20 Rule
Another rule? Not to worry, this rule will not be depressing like the previous rule! The 80-20 Rule (also known as the Pareto Principle) states that for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. How does this translate to piano skill development? For that, we combine it with the 10,000 hour rule as shown in the graph below. What this tells us is that you can get 80% of expertise by putting in 20% of the efforts (hours) required which is 2000 hours (20% of 10,000 hours).
Again, these numbers are not to be taken in the literal sense but just as a rough indicator to give you an idea about the concept. Putting in roughly 2000 hours of deliberate practise should put you in an intermediate skill level. Let us now have a look at the table that shows how many years it would take to complete 2,000 hours if you practised a specified number of hours every day.
Practise Hours per Day
Years to Complete 2K Hours*
*Decimals rounded off
This looks achievable, right? Someone who has roughly completed approximately 2000-3000 hours of deliberate practise should be at an intermediate level (Grades 6-8) when it comes to the grading system set by popular exam boards like Trinity and ABRSM. However, if you want to go from an intermediate skill level to an advanced/expert skill level where you’re looking at studying for a music diploma or playing advanced classical repertoire, you would need to put in the balance 80% of practise hours which is around 8000 hours or more.
Other influencing factors
Deliberate Practise – Throughout this article, I have been stressing about “deliberate practise” which is nothing but being mindful when you are practising. Our minds can often switch to an “autopilot mode” during practise sessions where our fingers would be playing the piano while the mind would be wandering elsewhere thinking about something unrelated to what we are playing. Such kind of mindless practise sessions are very inefficient and should be avoided. Practise sessions should be mindful, purposeful, deliberate and focused to make the most out of it.
Nature – We would have all seen videos of the 6-year-old concert pianist and the 7-year-old black belt karate expert. Let us face it, some people have a natural flair for doing certain skills compared to others though they may not have had any experience or formal training in that skill before. However, an individual’s innate ability is not the only factor determining his or her mastery over a skill. I have seen many musically gifted individuals who do not progress beyond the beginner or intermediate level due to a lack of discipline or interest. I have also seen many normal individuals who have managed to reach advanced levels due to their sheer will power, discipline and love for music. What matters at the end of the day is the strength of your mind and your heart.
Nurture – The environment also plays a crucial role in the development of a skill. Children born into households that are musically inclined are often exposed to music right from an incredibly young age and this often results in them having an innate affinity towards music. A child’s brain is overly sensitive to information and stimuli in the early years and exposing children to high information music genres like classical and jazz can be greatly beneficial in the child’s musical development. It is no surprise that most concert musicians have started their musical education between the ages of 4 and 6. Having a family that not only supports but takes an active interest in their child’s musical journey and being around people who have an affinity towards music are also important factors.
What it all means
- Like any skill, mastering the piano requires time, dedication, discipline, and love for music as an art form.
- It would be wise to set realistic goals and expectations for your progress so that you remain consistently motivated to move ahead.
- Deliberate and mindful practise plays a crucial role in developing your skill. Remember, one hour of mindful practise yields better results than 2-3 hours of mindless practise.
- While some people are naturally talented, the strength of your mind and heart is what ultimately matters for developing a skill.
- Surrounding yourself with individuals who are musically evolved can have a positive impact on your musical development.
Are you ready to begin your journey in music? Call us to schedule a free demo class!
Practising 'little and often' (15 -30 minutes a day) works much better than an hour or more once a week. If you practise regularly and don't give up, you should be able to learn to touch type fluently in 2-3 months, maybe even less. A total of 10 – 15 hours of practice should get you touch typing slowly.How long does it take to learn musical keyboard? ›
It will take 2 to 3 months to learn basics of Keyboard playing. Regular practice will help in improving your skills.How long does it take to learn piano basics? ›
It takes about one month to reach the beginner level, to learn piano basics and get accustomed to it, multitasking, and learn basic music theory, like the values of notes. It can also take you up to six months if you don't practice that often and if you don't have rhythm and good motor coordination.How good is piano after 1 year? ›
One year. You can expect to reach beginner level after around a year. This would correlate roughly to Grade 1 or 2 level (ABRSM.) Expect to play very basic pieces and have a reasonable grasp of learning from sheet music, playing basic one-octave scales, etc.How long does it take to become good at piano? ›
If you want to be a professional classical performer, you're looking at a minimum of 10 to 15 years of concentrated study with a master teacher, and hours of practice every day. Most people who want to learn piano to play for their own enjoyment can get great results within three to five years of study and practice.Is learning keyboard hard? ›
With so many keys to memorise and intricate handwork needed to play music, learning to play the keyboard is often viewed as a very difficult task, which is why so many avoid trying to learn. Yet contrary to popular belief, learning to play the keyboard is that difficult, especially when coming to grips with the basics.Can you learn piano in a month? ›
In fact, you can learn piano online in just 21 days – less than one month! How? By focusing on learning chords you want to play, not just the same boring notes and old-fashioned exercises. After all, most of us aren't trying to play piano in classical music.How long does it take to get to Grade 1 piano? ›
Children learning piano will often be able to take grade 1 around two years after beginning lessons. Adult beginners can generally expect a quicker rate of progress, and often get to grade 1 within six months or less.Can I learn piano at 30? ›
Learning to play the piano as an adult can be intimidating. Many people limit themselves because they think they are too old or that it's too late to start something new. The good news is, it's never too late to start.Is piano harder than guitar? ›
Overall, the guitar is easier to learn than the piano. If you consider the layout, learning songs, the ability to self-teach and a few other things, it is an easier instrument. However, it's the easiest on average for everyone.
Yes! While we believe the best way to learn piano is from an expert instructor, we're also in full support of students who prefer self-learning. Piano's one of the most versatile instruments, so learning how to teach yourself is a skill that will serve you in other areas of life.How can you tell if someone is playing the piano? ›
How To Tell If Someone Is Actually Good At The Piano - YouTubeIs it hard to learn piano at an older age? ›
People can start piano at 60, at 70, at 80, even later. Your brain can still form new connections at any age. You can always learn new skills. For those who begin piano later in life, learning the piano may take a little more patience.Can I learn typing in 10 days? ›
It takes less than 10 hours to learn to type with 10 fingers at about 15 words per minute and another 5 hours to reach hand writing speed of about 20 WPM. The best way is to learn over a short period of time. A lesson a day over 10 days and a further 5 days of practice-typing is recommended.How long does it take to improve typing speed? ›
By starting with a 30 minutes typing class every day, you will begin to see improvements in your touch typing speed within 2 weeks. The average person spends at least three hours a day using a keyboard while doing work, writing emails, messaging, using social networks, etc.How long does it take to learn to type 100 wpm? ›
And the main answer: it takes 59 hours to reach 100 WPM. By the way, regular typing without practice has almost no effect on speed. What I mean is, that if you will not practice, your typing speed won't change much.Is typing 50 wpm good? ›
The average typing speed is around 40 words per minute. To achieve a high level of productivity, aim for 60 to 70 words per minute instead.