I got an email someone who’s wondering how long it will take to learn piano. I get this question a lot and I’m sure it makes sense in the head of whoever’s asking it. But, I’ve been playing the piano for decades and I’m still not good at it. So, what hope do you have?
The way to turn this into a useful question is to ask “how long will take to learn [specific song]?”
That’s easy to answer.
(The email is in a bold italic font, and my responses are in a regular font.)
“Hi Michael, I’m just getting started with piano and I was wondering if you had any thoughts on how long it will take?”
Welcome to piano. I hope you enjoy the ride.
Oh, wait. I see you’re already wondering when they’ll let you off the ride. What’s the rush?
Half of me wants to give you a bullshit “spiritual” answer and admonish you for not enjoying the journey. But, that wouldn’t be helpful. You want results and you want them now.
I can’t blame you for wanting results. Why else would you invest time into something if you didn’t have an expectation it would pay off?
So instead, I’ll blame you for not asking about specific results. You asked “how long will it take?” What’s “it”?
“I know you’ll tell me to be patient,…”
No, I’m not going to tell you to be patient. I’m going to tell you to set a timer and work on the damn exercises until the timer goes off. It doesn’t matter if you’re patient or not.
You didn’t say in your email what results you want. If you had, I’d be able to give you specific exercises to get those results.
“…but I just want to know how long before I’m at a reasonably ‘decent’ level?”
Again, you haven’t defined “reasonably decent level.” So, I’m going to define it for you: A “reasonably decent pianist” is someone who can play River Flows in You by Yiruma.
Now, as to the question of time. I broke this song down into 45 exercises. If you spend one day on each exercise, you’ll be able to play the whole thing in 45 days.
Unfortunately for you, I haven’t published all 45. But, I’ve got the first 5 up on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. So, what you should do is watch those videos and learn the exercises. Do them one at a time and master them.
I don’t know yet what I’ll do about the other 40. Maybe I’ll publish them like I did with first 5. Maybe I’ll charge money for them. Maybe I’ll do nothing at all. If you want leverage over this decision, you’ll learn the first 5 and send me a video.
Thanks for your email,
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