Returning to the Piano as an Adult
Updated: May 15, 2021
I've received several calls this week from clients who played the piano as children and who would like to rekindle their love for music now that they're adults. Their first question is: where do I begin?
Bringing any skill back after years of not practicing can be a frustrating task. (I mean, after years of not lifting weights, I just saw a weight trainer earlier this week and I can barely walk!!) The most important thing to remember when trying to bring back a skill is to be patient with yourself. Music is stored in a special place in the brain, so yes, it will come back! We just have to dust off the cobwebs!
I first recommend going back to a not-too-difficult piece that you enjoyed playing. For example, maybe you played "Für Elise" as a child and really loved it. This would be a great piece to start with! It is very repetitive, it's not too technically challenging, and it has an easy key signature. I wouldn't recommend pieces like Chopin's Nocturne in C Minor, Op. 48, No. 1, Beethoven's "Pathetique" Sonata, Op. 13, or anything that requires strength and endurance or is challenging to read. The point of this exercise is to reactivate the brain with something that you are familiar with and that brings you joy!
But, you have to remember that resurrecting piano playing is two-fold: you have to jumpstart your brain cells, AND you have to rebuild the strength in your fingers, arms, and back. This brings me to my next recommendation — you need to work on retraining your muscles. The best way to do this is with scales, arpeggios, chords (progressions and inversions), and Hanon/Czerny exercises. Why we practice scales, arpeggios, and chords is another blog post, but essentially, they are the building blocks of music and playing the piano. Fluency in them just makes your life easier, both physically and mentally. I'm a huge fan of Hanon exercises as they get your fingers moving and bring blood flow to your hands.
Lastly, you should set aside time every day to practice. You don't need a long period of time. 10–15 minutes will work wonders! After you've found your groove, then you can increase your time at a later date. Also, once you've reignited the fire, you have to keep the flames burning — daily consistency is more important than a time quantity. Your brain just needs to be tended to a little bit every day to form pathways and habits.
So, who's ready to return to the piano and reignite their passion for music?!?