Effects of Age on Piano Practice

Question: I used to play when I was younger. I am 52 now but still love to play (it’s innate). Unsupportive family members restricted me from practicing as much as I wanted. So I stopped for a few years but can’t get rid of it. Can I catch up to a speed of just an average piano player? I have a regular non-musical job, but just love to play the piano. Can I still apply your practice tips at my age?

– Leo (California, USA)

Albert’s reply: Adults have the enormous advantage of a developed capacity for concentration, and it’s this that we most need for practicing piano. It’s very easy for children to form bad practice habits that they can carry into adulthood, simply because their ability to concentrate was as yet undeveloped.

Practicing properly rather than by rote is very demanding mentally, and it requires mental resources that exceedingly few children have. Younger players do have the advantage of having more flexible, developing hands, but much of this can be overcome later with a dedicated practice routine that includes daily scale work and finger coordination exercises (such as Hanon’s, but only if they are played musically and transposed into various keys).

The guidelines for piano practice apply regardless of age.

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