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OK, similar questions may have been asked over and over again, but I would like to know how much time it takes to learn the piano. I am almost 34 (male), and have never taken any piano lessons before and I almost forgot everything I learned from music classes in my elementary school through high school.

I am not interested in playing classical or jazz, and I do not want to be a musician. I just want to play some popular songs I like for my own amusement. For example, these are the songs I would like to play.

I did some Google search and the first article told me that to learn to play the piano, I have to practice 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, for the next 15 years. The article said not to worry because if even one starts at one's 40, one would be fluent at 55, and could enjoy 20 or more years of one's life playing the piano.

I do not know what level of fluency that estimation targets. Can I actually be fluent in piano in some years on my age?

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You say you've never taken any piano lessons BEFORE. I would hope this indicates that you ARE going to take lessons. A teacher will short-circuit the amount of time quoted here. Obviously, one can learn anything, given enough time (and application), but a teacher is worth many, many books/web lessons/etc. –  Tim Feb 4 at 15:43
    
Thank you, Tim. There are not many piano academy (forgive me, if this is a wrong term) for adults where I live, most of them are for kids. I am considering possibilities. –  Sin Jeong-hun Feb 5 at 10:01
    
The idea of "fluency" is very arbitrary. You will never be entirely satisfied with your playing, which is part of the attraction of learning. The other part of the attraction is that the more you work at it, the better you get. –  BobRodes Feb 6 at 16:53
    
No, I originally did not ask about fluency. My question was modified by the moderator. I asked how much time it would take to be able to play songs like in the videos. –  Sin Jeong-hun Feb 7 at 0:53

6 Answers 6

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Yeah, the numbers listed above are way off. If you just want to play a handful of popular songs you should be able to do it in a year or so, depending on how much time you dedicate and how well you get along with your piano!

As aforementioned, you might want to conduct a search and see if there are any tutorial videos for any of the songs that you want to learn. If you're not a musician, this is a great way to see what you need to play. If there are no videos then you're going to have to work a lot harder. You will then need to either know how to read music or know music theory if you plan on using your ear to figure the song out.

If you can practice 30 minutes a day, or at least 2-3 hours a week, you should be able to learn the 3 songs in less than a year. The thing is how long it takes to learn to play popular songs on piano as an adult isn't really quantifiable. It really boils down to how much you want to play it, and how fast you learn.

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Thank you Mr Bard. You think people like me (I have described my state in my question) could play that kind of song in 1 year just by practicing 1 hour a day? That seems quite fast to me. –  Sin Jeong-hun Feb 5 at 10:11
    
I absolutely think so. None of the songs above seem particularly difficult. There are obviously a lot of easier first songs to learn, but an important thing about music or learning to just play a piece of music is that you have to like what you're playing. You can get boggled down learning beginner piano music, but if you don't like it, you won't get very far. If these songs are songs that you love and have the desire and means to learn them, then 365 hours is plenty of time, even for a beginner. Again, you just have to figure out how to tackle the learning process, if you have to learn how to –  MrTheBard Feb 5 at 15:25
    
read music or play by ear, then that's going to slow you down. You mentioned you don't want to be a musician and you just want to play these songs, so my suggestion would be to see if you can find some sort of tutorial video for the songs on youtube. If you can, then you'll be on your merry way to learning the songs in a relatively short while. If you have to learn how to read music, then I still think that a year is plenty of time, but that will boil down to how fast of a learner you are, and most importantly your willpower and determination to play these songs. –  MrTheBard Feb 5 at 15:27
    
I second MrTheBard here. I would add this: suppose you put in the time and then let us know how you do? :) –  BobRodes Feb 6 at 16:54

I know a 70+ year old man who is still learning to play the piano. The fact that you express a desire to play indicates you have a real interest, at least ostensibly. This is important, as that would be your impetus to play the piano as an adult learner. It is not necessary to explain why being young is extremely advantageous to acquiring any musical ability through training. However, musicality is subjective and an older person can appreciate many things that a younger person cant. Don't be intimidated and have a dedicated goal in your mind. Then, consider a piano teacher as an aid. Many adult learners find being 'back in school' under the tutelage of a piano teacher truthfully unpleasant. This is because they expect to be taught which of course is not productive for an adult. In reality, one must go to the core of musicianship, which is mastery. The faster you can do this, with or without help, the better you are.

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If your goal is only play a handful of songs on piano it will take nowhere near 20 years to play them. The hardest part for you would be understanding the notation for the songs, but if you can find more videos like the ones above where you can see what notes are being played instead of trying to read the score it shouldn't take that long. Most people who start playing piano rely more on memorization than actually reading the score because especially at first it is the equivalence of a foreign language.

If you can make enough time to learn even 5 just seconds of the song a day by just watching and mimicking what you see it will take you about a month and a half per song.

I would also get the scores for the songs so you can use them as a guideline when you just listen to the songs. Even if you don't know how to read music notion pop songs tend to repeat themselves and you should be able to see the repeated parts without knowing how to read the and start learning the basics of how music is notated. There are also many online resources including this site that can help you if you need help.

I know many people who know how to play a few of their favorite song on the piano, but can't read any piano sheet music. It is not required if you are just want to learn a few songs and as long as you are determined enough you should be able to learn them in a timely manner.

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So basically there are two parts in learning piano; reading the notes and playing. What you mean is I can save some time by reducing the time for learning how to read the notes, if I am only interested in a fixed number of songs, right? –  Sin Jeong-hun Feb 5 at 10:06

You can become an expert in pretty much anything with 10,000 hours practice. To become professional standard pianist, if you practice for 4 hours a day you should get there in well under 10 years, not 15. However, to play those kinds of songs, you do not need to be anywhere near that kind of standard.

As a reasonable lower bound, I am good at music and could already play another instrument to a good standard when I began teaching myself the piano, and I reached the standard where I could play those kind of songs in well under 1 hour a day practice, for 3 years.

As a reasonable upper bound, if you are not innately very musical, but you practice persistently, then I would say you should be able to reach that standard in about 2500 hours, or 1 hour a day for 7 years.

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OK, 1 hour a day for 7 years, if I am not good at music. –  Sin Jeong-hun Feb 5 at 10:09
    
@SinJeong-hun At maximum, likely quite a lot less. You could probably play one or two specific songs in a year with 1 hour a day. –  sweeneyrod Feb 5 at 15:41

I think one could learn a song such as you post in a much shorter time. It would involve someone showing you exactly what to do, in sequence.It will not make you a pianist, but it will allow you to play tunes, parrot-fashion.

I don't necessarily advocate this , but, from memory, there was a comedian who could 'play' many instruments, but - apparently, learnt only one tune on each, to use in his act. If anyone knows his name, please tell me.

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Enthusiasm will be your carrier :-)

Every day of playing will make a marked difference in your skill, and if you're playing for your own amusement then you can be your own judge about how you're doing. Lessons always help to iron out bad habits and start you off with good technique of course, but ultimately it's up to you how long you take to get to whichever point you end up at. For that reason I think putting an amount of time on it is a bit arbitrary - the end goal (fluency) isn't that well defined in that your idea of fluent might be different to someone else's, and your learning rate depends on so many things.

So as I say .. enthusiasm will carey you through.

I hope you enjoy it ! I can't explain the satisfacition I still get from learning new songs - which brings me to my next point ..

Amount of time to practice daily: Can I suggest you practice when you WANT to? If that's 4 hours a day (or more), great- but don't drag it out so it feels like a chore. In my experience this is an effective way of kirbing enthusiasm.

Keep it fresh and enjoy ! :-D

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