By the end of 2019, I want to learn piano at a level where I can play proficiently. I have no money that I can spend to get a teacher or get practice books. I do not own a piano, but I still can play one at a public place during the weekdays.

I'm actively playing violin and have been doing so for seven years. However, I barely know anything even closely related to music theory. I can read notes but I don't know what they are called.

I understand the amount of time I have to put in piano to play it decently, and I'm willing to put that amount of time, but I'm not so sure where to start.

  • To clarify what "proficient" means, I want to be able to play relatively hard Chopin pieces. I'm certain that I won't have any motivational problems because I genuinely like music and nothing's forcing me to learn piano in the first place.
    – Jack Kurt
    Nov 3 '18 at 23:58
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    Hi Jack, welcome to the site! Excuse me for being a little skeptical, but this seems to be asking a little much, don't you think? Imagine someone asking how to learn to construct "relatively hard" pieces of furniture, but they've never woodworked before, they don't have money for wood, they have no mentor to teach them, and they don't even have tools (but they have access to a public shop during the week). Oh, and they only have a year to learn! It's a bit of a tall order, don't you think?
    – Richard
    Nov 4 '18 at 3:26
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    How long can you play that piano in the public place during the weekdays? Do people boot you out within half an hour, for example?
    – Dekkadeci
    Nov 4 '18 at 6:04
  • It’s possible you wouldn’t be able to play hard Chopin pieces by the end of 2019 even if you were a billionaire. It can take years to become proficient at any instrument. That said, can you practice for eight hours a day, seven days a week? And study music theory outside of those hours? If so then it might be doable. Nov 4 '18 at 8:29
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    I see a whole lot of ambition here, but not much practicality. If it were easy, a lot more folks would be doing it that way. It usually takes time to develop skills. Nov 4 '18 at 15:14

With the limitations in mind, there's not so many options. You can learn theory online. There are lots of good resources for that. You can also find lots of piano tutorials online.

I guess you have access to a printer? Then you can print scores to practice from. If you do not have access to that, well copy scores you find online by hand.


Have you heard the saying that you need to do 10,000 hours of practice to become proficient at something? Ok it may not always be true but it's a yardstick that is appropriate here I think. Being able to play "relatively hard Chopin pieces" with any proficiency will put you into an upper bracket of pianists generally. Many of us have taken many years to get to that level of performance.

So 10,000 hours: that's 8 hours a day for 1250 days (well over three years even if you do it every day). Do you have the capacity for that as well as the facilities? It just seems unrealistic to me. And if your deadline is the end of 2019 then you do not have that many days anyway.

So sorry but this just does not seem possible.

  1. If you have a phone/PC, install piano apps and practice daily.

  2. Learn with piano tutorials from online and practice on the app and on the public piano.

  3. Learn music theory from online ( try to cover topics like major/minor scale degrees, circle of fifths, music notation, time signature, key signatures, clefs, chords, chord progressions, rhythm, piano accompaniment patterns)

    Some example piano melody and chords here


You have no money and weekends are available.

So you need to buy hours to not just play weekends because you need to learn intensely 15-30 minutes at a time with whatever time between.

Yes, I know you didn't ask about time but if you want maximum learning then one solution to work weekends and instead play everyday at home using a portable keyboard ... commonly on Craigslist, eBay and thrift stores such as Goodwill.

For example...




Is there a reason why you can't have a digital piano at home, apart from money? If money is the issue, work a couple of weeks at some minimum-wage job to save 300-400 bucks, which the range where acceptable-quality digital pianos start (second-hand ones might even be cheaper). Having one available in the evenings and weekends will be invaluable if you're serious about this.

Check if your local public library has any sheet music and instructional books.

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