9 Myths About Learning the Piano

piano learning myths

Like anything else, there are plenty of myths about the piano floating around out there.

You’ve probably heard plenty of these and likely disproven a few of them yourself.

Don’t buy into “fake news” about piano learning!

Here are a few of the most common piano learning myths and why they aren’t true.

Ready to bust some myths?

Read on:

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1. You Can Teach Yourself

But wait, you say. I know self-taught piano players!

So do I.

Do you know what they have in common?

None of them can read music well.

None of them improve quickly.

It sounds nice when they play, and they are talented.

But reading music is a huge part of learning piano.

So is getting instruction on how to improve and sound better.

If you learn how to play with chords or by ear, that’s great.

But you’ll never reach your potential, I guarantee it.

Take the next step!

Get some lessons!

Playground Sessions is a great online lesson program. You can also check out flowkey, Artist Works, or Piano for All. View them all here. 

2. You Have to Start Learning as a Kid

Allow me to bust this myth with the greatest of enthusiasm!

Many adult piano learners feel discouraged, believing that people who learn to play as kids have a better shot at becoming great players.

This is not true!

In fact, two of my favourite musicians learned to play late.

J.J. Heller didn’t learn guitar until her sophomore year of college.

Steve Martin plays with an awesome bluegrass band, the Steep Canyon Rangers. He didn’t learn banjo until he was sixteen.

You may not be going for fame, but you can still be a great musician!

In fact, adults have at least one edge on childhood learners:

Adults play because they want to, not because Mom makes them.

Enthusiasm and motivation will get you far.

3. Long Practice Sessions are Ideal

It’s a good idea to spend a substantial amount of time playing the piano each day.

It is not a good idea, however, to sit with you rear end glued to the piano seat for miserable hours on end.

Professionals and music majors do this.

The rest of us don’t have to.

If you hate your practice schedule, it’s time to mix things up. Check out our detailed schedule for beginners here.

You should be playing at least 20 minutes per practice session, of course.

However, if you think you need to sit for 90 minutes a day in order to get better:

You’ll be happy to hear that you can cut down your practice time and still improve.

In fact, you might improve more, because you’ll actually enjoy it. Read our quick guide on structuring piano into your day here.

4. Writing on the Music is Not Allowed

Joy of joys, you can use a pencil (or even a pen!) to mark up your music!

In fact, you should.

Unless you have vintage sheet music from the 1400s, writing in your music is always a good idea.

This way, you can keep track of tough spots and leave yourself reminders.

5. You Should Never Look at Your Hands

You probably know that you should not stare at your hands while you play.

You know you need to focus on the music.

However, there are moments when you will need to look at your hands.

If you’re playing something from memory or trying to learn a tricky section, for example, you may need to look at your hands.

6. You Have to Start with Learning to Read Music

Truth: Nobody starts by reading music.

If that sounds fishy to you, think back to how you learned to play.

Did you learn to read music before you got to play a song?

Nope! Chances are, you learned the names of the keys on the piano and learned to follow the letter names on paper before you ever saw a staff.

Many people even learn to play by ear or follow chords before they learn to read music.

For some people, this is actually ideal and gives them a head-start.

In any case:

It’s never too late to start reading music and become a better piano player!

7. You Can Only Play Difficult Music if You Have Long Fingers

Rachmaninoff had massive hands, as you know if you’ve ever attempted any chords in his music.

Sometimes it seems like the tougher stuff requires a 12-key finger span.

For those of us who barely reach past an octave, this is discouraging.

However, plenty of practice will make those tougher pieces possible for even the smallest of hands!

For some inspiration on the epic side, check out Rainer Hersch’s rendition of Chopin, using sticks extended his reach for difficult chords!

You don’t have to use fancy tools like this, or course, but it goes to show how anything is possible when you set your mind to it.

8. You Have to Learn Songs in Order

If you’ve ever forced yourself to painstakingly learn a song in order, bit by bit, you know how grueling it is.

Instead of being miserable, start by getting down the easier parts. Then, move on to the tough parts.

You can learn the parts of the song in whatever order you want.

They just have to come together at the end!

By the way: you can also learn multiple songs at a time.

9. You Have to Practice Every Day

One word:

Burnout.

You should practice regularly.

But you also need to schedule in breaks so you don’t hate your life.

How Many of These Myths Have You Heard Before?

Now you know better!

If you want to keep disproving piano learning myths and get better, sign up for online lessons!

Taking lessons will guide you in your learning so that you can get better at piano without anything holding you back.

If you're interested in the lesson programs I mentioned above – Playground Sessions, flowkey, Artist Works, or Piano for All – be sure to visit their websites to learn more! Find all the listings here.


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About The Author

Breana Johnson

I’m Breana, long-time piano player and casual guitar strummer. I grew up on Moezart and the Beach Boys, and I love all types of music! My day job is writing, but I moonlight as a piano teacher and occasionally play for events.