It’s not too late! It is possible to release your inner musician. Maybe you have a dream to play a song at your grandmother’s 80th birthday, or to play your favourite songs.
Here is my story of being an adult piano learner and the pleasure and satisfaction piano playing has given me.
When I was 7 years old I used to pretend playing the coffee table. My mother probably thought her first-born son was a future concert pianist. I was sent to piano lessons and I did my daily practice. I learnt from the Australian Music Examination Board syllabus (AMEB for short) but these books only contained works with names like Study by unknown composers with names like Czerny and Burgmuller. Where were the pop songs or folk tunes? I passed second grade but I was losing interest – all those scales and boring studies! I persuaded my mother to let me stop and at age 11, my piano days were over.
We kept the piano and occasionally I would play it. In high school, a friend taught me to play the opening riff of The Beatles song Lady Madonna. I have always loved piano music – classical and pop and continued to dream of being able to play my favourite songs.
After I was married I bought a portable Yamaha electric piano and attempted to teach myself from books with names like “Easy to Play Classics”. I didn’t have a regular practice schedule so you can imagine how little progress was made. When our older daughter was seven she started piano lessons and used this piano. Six months later bought a real piano – a Kawaii upright [shown in the photo at the top of this article].
Now there were no excuses not to continue my self-teaching. I would practice for a few days then get distracted by something else. It wasn’t long before my daughter was playing much better than me. Every time I attended a school music concert and heard the piano I would get inspired to practice again.
Over the past five years I kept thinking about getting serious with the piano. A colleague several years older than me told me he was taking lessons and sitting for the 8th grade exam! I admired his perseverance and envied how much spare time he must have. I thought “Wouldn’t it be great to play a few pieces properly?” I was imagining what it would feel like to play a piece confidently and musically while enjoying the experience.
I made the commitment to find a teacher. This was the turning point in making my dream of “playing the piano well” into a reality. I found a teacher in Gordon, called her and took up the offer of a free lesson! Making that phone call was more nerve-wracking than asking a girl out on a date! The trial lesson went well – I discussed my goals and played some pieces I had been learning.
I felt awkward arriving at my lesson the following week. There was a mother with her two primary school aged children . The girl was having her lesson and the boy was fascinated that a man older than his father was taking piano lessons! He looked at me and said
“Are you learning piano?” I explained that I had given up when I was eleven years old and wanted to learn again.
I wanted to set a challenging goal for this year – no I am not giving a recital at the Concourse – I am sitting for an exam – ABRSM Grade 3! You probably think I am crazy. I want the satisfaction of playing three pieces to the best of my ability and to prove to myself that I can do it.
Playing piano is an enjoyable activity – it has its frustrations – but daily practice gets results. It isn’t instant gratification but very satisfying when I can eventually play a piece. I have learnt a lot about myself from piano playing – like perseverance, it’s alright to make mistakes. Making music is doing something purely for my own pleasure and delight. My family must be tired of hearing the same pieces every day – but they don’t complain – they know I am enjoying myself.
What kind of musician is locked up inside of you? What is your dream instrument – singing? Piano? Harp? Clarinet? Learning a musical instrument means you allow yourself to be vulnerable, to make mistakes, and take risks – just like life itself.
So what is stopping you from getting started? The cost? The time? You are not too old – look at me! Choose your instrument, find a teacher, and start the journey. Make the commitment to yourself to free your inner musician – Let your music be heard!