I have been playing piano for five years as an adult beginner, and recently passed my ABRSM grade 5. I am determined to pass all eight grades but I realize that the higher the grades the more difficult the process will be, but I am determined to master this instrument to the best of my ability. Will it be possible for someone who started as an adult to go all the way through the grades? I like the structure that studying for the exams provides, and use the syllabus as a guide with my piano teacher. I would love to hear from other adult beginners who are taking ABRSM exams.

  • It is certainly possible, since it has been done by someone I know - and has probably been done many times. I am trying something similar, but only 2 years into the project.
    – Old John
    Jun 3, 2016 at 20:13
  • 1
    Of course it is possible! Unless there is some restriction due to age, you can easily achieve this goal and even aim for something higher. Jun 3, 2016 at 20:17
  • @Shevliaskovic there are no age restrictions for the ABRSM exams.
    – user19146
    Jun 3, 2016 at 22:33
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    I would quibble with the idea that it is easy to achieve such an aim. Does anyone really think it is an easy task to get to the stage of mastering pieces such as fugues from the Well-Tempered Clavier, as required for level 8 on the ABRSM syllabus?!
    – Old John
    Jun 3, 2016 at 23:33
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    My mind gets blown every time I see a piano score. I agree nothing about it seems easy to me.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jun 4, 2016 at 11:46

3 Answers 3


The problem with adults is they have a lot of other stuff on their plates. Kids are in a great position, with relatively few draws on their time, in reality, and probably some financier there as well. Go for it. There will always be other things to pull you away from having some practice time, but force these things into the background.

If you have the desire, then make time to get the music flowing. it will take time - and don't forget, you'll need grade V theory under your belt, too. Just do it. Later, you'll look back with pride, and have all that experience to fall back on - plus a nice piece of paper that proves you are a great player.

Your teacher must think it's achievable too. I used to run an exam centre, and the most nervous candidates were the adults. There again, nerves aren't such a bad thing, as they tend to concentrate the mind better.Kids are taking tests on an almost daily basis, so a piano exam is just another test to do for a lot of them.As long as you're enjoying playing keep going till you pass grade VIII.


There's a degree of truth in the idea that you have to start young to achieve full mastery of instruments such as violin or piano. But that's about concert soloist level. Grade 8 is no mean achivement, but it IS achievable by anyone with aptitude who is prepared to put in the work. And - and this is why so many adults make excellent initial progress then give up - who is prepared to be patient when the early spurt slows down.

Be aware that the ABRSM seems to have succumbed to the modern "no-one fails" philosophy. You need a Merit or Distinction. A plain Pass must be considered close to failure.


Your age should not be the problem. What can be a problem is the realities of adult life. If you have a job and a demanding family life then it is probably going to be hard to find several hours a day to practice your instrument. There is nothing about your age that makes it impossible, just the higher demands on a person time that seems to come from being an adult.

That being said there is some possible advantages. You can probably get more done in less time as an adult. You are mature enough to see the skill of your teachers and may very well take their teachings more seriously. There may be less of the superfluous nonsense that teachers have to deal with children.

So don't get too hung up on the age. Put the hours in and you will get the results.

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    Well, sort of. Many adults manage to find plenty of regular time to pursue a hobby, craft or sport. The particular issue with music is that spectatular early progress has to settle into a period of consolidation. A child just labours on. An adult gets impatient and drops out.
    – Laurence
    Jun 4, 2016 at 12:25
  • @LaurencePayne - a child just labours on. Usually because some pushy adult who's footing the tutoring bills makes it! Adults don't usually have that kind of pressure.
    – Tim
    Jun 4, 2016 at 17:28

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