A Middle-aged Mom

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Question: I learned to play piano back when I was 16 years of age and I learned to read piano notes. I haven’t played in years (my own fault for not keeping up with it). Can I learn again to play piano?

– Virginia (Sierra Vista, Arizona, USA)

Albert’s reply: Of course you can learn to play piano again. I’ve encountered students your age or older who hadn’t played since their teens and who could recall decades-old information nearly immediately. You’ll retain a surprising amount of musical knowledge and the memories will be triggered as soon as you start playing again. If nothing else, it should be easier to reacquire knowledge of piano scales and other components of piano theory.

What will likely be more challenging will be piano technique. It will take time for your fingers to reacquire their former flexibility. Finger strength also needs to be developed – the fingers will strengthen naturally with proper piano practice. Your fingers will strengthen more with slow practice than they will if you try to play fast.

One point I always reinforce on key-notes is that everyone, no matter how amateur or professional, can always improve some aspect of their musicianship. Your goal need not be to become a virtuoso pianist but simply to continuously develop your musical knowledge, repertoire, ability to express music and your overall love for music. There’s always some area in which you can make progress, even if that progress is not always quantifiable (such as expressiveness). Ear training and sight reading are areas in which you can continually improve for instance.

Focus on slow, steady improvement, continuous learning and your love for music and your musical progress and satisfaction will be ensured. I wish you much success in your piano studies!

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