I'd like to start learning to play the piano from scratch, and I would like to know how many hours of practice will it take me to:

  • master the basics like scales, technique, fingering, theory, and sight reading.
  • be able to play a piece and not sound bad
  • be able to sight read a piece which is not complex, but also not too easy
  • be able to approach a complex piece (you name it, as long as you explain what will it demand, and why do you see it as complex)
  • be able to sight read a complex piece.

Are there any pieces or exercise that I can treat as "goals", that I know I reached a certain level when I am able to play them? Also, if you have any good advice, a good place to start from and good excercise, and a place (maybe books or sites or YouTube channels) which have everything.

I need to start about theory, techniques, scales, fingerings, note reading, etc. I would love to hear it from you! i am going to have a few free months with absolutely nothing to do very soon, so I plan to put my willpower to the test and try practicing 6 days a week for 5-10 hours (one day a week for being lazy, and maybe practicing a bit more), and when I get busy again, practice about 1 hour at least. I used to have a teacher for six years and I quit playing the piano, it's been about 4 years since and I've recently fallen in love with classical music, so this time i would like to try and go solo, without a teacher.

And last question, just out of interest, because I don't really think it is going to happen, I'm 18 years old, can I still become a professional player or is it too late? At what age do the pros begin? And how do they practice?

update: thank you very much for all your amswers, i have decided to go with a r Teacher for those six months to gain independence and restore the abillities i used to have (i played the piano six years from age 7 to 13 practicing 3 hours a week + one weekly hour with a teacher), afterwards, if my timetable will allow it i will continue taking lessons and if not, i will continue practicing ajd making progress on my own in the free time i have

  • 3
    10,000. It's the industry standard.
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 21:41
  • @Tim is there any reference where the "10,000" comes from? I have seen this number being quoted here a couple of times and asking just because of further interest...
    – nath
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 13:51
  • 2
    @nath Popularised by en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outliers_(book), goes back to a study by Ericsson, K. Anders on expertise in general.
    – StefanH
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 20:41

6 Answers 6


Starting with the last question, if you can you still become a professional, it's risky and presumptuous to give a definitive answer, but not to let you end on a complete blank I'll give you my opinion. It's highly improbable that you may acquire the technical proficiency required, for example, to become a classical concert pianist, but other than that everything is possible.

As a committed adult learner your learning curve can be much speedier than a child's normal development, but a good teacher makes all the difference, and finding one is the best thing you can if you're so motivated to learn quickly.

Beware of too much and/or ill guided practice, as it may be harmful, reinforcing mistakes or even causing physical injury. Don't forget that playing the piano is also a physical, muscular activity, don't expect to be able to compress in a few months the work of years, no matter how many hours a day you practice.

And it will be a waste to dedicate such amount of effort and then let it fade away for lack of continuity. Your motivation is commendable, but try to plan for a more sustained effort in the long run.

Anyway, regarding the request for self learning resources, this answer may give you a starting point.

  • Thank you for your answer, I think that what imight do is just take a few lessons with a teacher to go over the technique and then continue by myself Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 5:43

If you don't mind some dissonance in your sound repertoire, I'd recommend Bartok's Mikrokosmos as your learning tool. It is the only progressive piano method written by a compositional genius. It will introduce you to a huge range of piano textures and sounds. And it gets quite difficult. By the time you are through with Volume 6, you have the technique to handle a wide range of repertoire and can start to think about simpler mainstream pieces (i.e. not the big bravura stuff) by Chopin, Mozart or Beethoven.

Of course you'll probably want to pair it with some different sounds as you go. During volume 2, you can explore Bach's AM Bach notebook, or Albums for the Young by Schumann and Tchaikowsky; during volumes 3, 4, and 5, you might enjoy Debussy's Children's Corner and Schumann's Kinderszenen.

That should do you!

And no, you will never become a professional pianist, the neural nets need to start early. :)


In general, 2000 hours of focused practice will get you to a professional level. The "10000 hours of practice" number comes from an article studying Olympic athletes and thus is reserved for becoming the best musician possible given your innate limitations. As Josh Kaufman has demonstrated, even 20 hours of focused practice on a well-defined goal can produce results that you can demonstrate.


My personnel suggestion is to Start from a Teacher.It will good to have a teacher for guidance.Later you can do self learning. For self learning lot of resources are available in internet like L&M Piano. http://www.learnandmaster.com/piano/ etc.


I suggest starting with 20 minutes and gradually work yourself up to an hour. I did it step-wise with two 25 minute sessions and gradually adding a minute to the time. You can also consider watching training videos, such as on youtube, in addition to your keyboard time.


It is better to practice in shorter sessions but ensure you do so every day. Music is supposed to be fun, so if you push yourself too hard it can rapidly become a chore. Reading music is part of the challenge but a surprising number of talented musicians never learn to read - I know a gospel keyboardist who is simply amazing but he cannot read - he envies me (with my much inferior talents as a musician) because I can read, but I can't play like he does. So if you find improvising or copying what you hear is fun, than don't worry too much about the 'proper' way to learn. As a late beginner (I did not start until the age of 13) it took me about a year of lessons, 1 hour per week, to get to grade 3 level and by then I felt reasonably confident that I could proceed on my own from that point. I also subsequently played in a band and learned valuable skills about improvising and reading chord charts as opposed to proper sheet music. You do not say what styles of music you enjoy. However learning in the classical idiom I think is best initially, even if you want to actually play modern music. Jazz in particular requires a sophisticated rhythmic touch which isn't intuitive for many people - a lot of classical musicians never quite figure out how to 'swing', so listen to stuff and make an aspirational list. Mine, for instance, is to one day be able to play Debussy's Images - but I'm much older than 13 now, so I don't know if I'll ever be able to do that. Still, it's a goal....

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