Starting Piano Late

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Question: If I started learning how to play piano at the age of 13, is it bad? Will I ever learn to play piano like most pianists who started at a very young age? I really need your answer. Thank you.

– Drexanne Calibara (Taguig, Philippines)

Albert’s reply: We must always remember the role our psychology plays in what we accomplish. While our faculties do have their limits, all too often we underestimate our true capabilities.

If you think you’ll never be able to play well because you started piano late, then you won’t.

By contrast, if you believe you will be able to play piano well no matter what, are you guaranteed to succeed? Of course not. But believing the converse – that you’ll fail – guarantees failure. From a purely pragmatic perspective, it’s wise to believe in yourself.

If your goal really is to “play piano like most pianists who started at a very young age,” as you state, then that will be an easy goal to accomplish. The average pianist plays at an average level! Even those who started young don’t typically reach a high level of playing.

If your goal is to become a concert pianist and you have exceptional talent paired with an extraordinary teaching methodology, it may still be possible. I started at 17 and was fortunate enough to have found outstanding teachers who continually pushed me to raise my standards.

You will absolutely need the best teacher you can find, one who can instill in you excellent practice habits and solid musicianship.

As I wrote in How Much Musical Talent Do I Need?, you should aspire to reach your potential. After all, that’s all any of us can do. Look to more accomplished musicians as role models and continually strive to better yourself.

Finally, consider that there are advantages to adult piano lessons that you may be overlooking! Starting piano late has hidden advantages that you’re currently overlooking.

I wish you much success in your musical journey.

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