Starting Piano Over

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Question: Hi there, Albert, I came across your fantastic Piano Site by pure chance although I don’t really believe in chance. I had formal piano training as a child for 6 months, then did a three year course in light classics when I was an adult and then just neglected my talent. Now, at the age of 59 I have decided to re-apply my heart, mind and soul as well as my fingers to accomplish good finger skills (which I never mastered – my fingers just did their own thing) and to really play a piece of music properly. I want my music to become a thing of beauty.

Now for the question – should I just start at the very beginning again? When I started as a child I started somewhere at grade 3 and never did the first steps.

Thank you for such a wonderful inspiration to try again. Your website is truly something special! I am honoured to have been able to join up and have the prospect of learning so much from such an accomplished artist.

– Eunice (South Africa)

Albert’s reply: Eunice, I’m really touched by your kind words. It’s not at all a bad idea to start piano over again from the beginning after so many years. You’ll find that many things will come back quickly, so you won’t have to spend so much time on the things you learned in the past.

Still, make sure you don’t overlook things that might seem basic. I often find that things which are not learned early on, or that were learned wrongly, cause difficulty later on. I wrote a list of common beginners’ mistakes when beginning piano lessons.

Also, piano students tend to get “out of balance” musically, depending on the method they learned and their individual talents. For example, some people have a natural finger-to-eye connection that enables them to sight read easily, while others have a naturally good ear. Pianist do learn primarily through their fingers (which after all is a necessity since playing the piano is a physical act), and we need to supplement our learning with proper ear training and piano theory. If we make a habit of neglecting essential musical skills and primarily exercise our fingers, we get more out of balance the further we progress.

Finally, you will need to work carefully on finger coordination by focusing on quality piano exercises. Though I’m not the world’s biggest Hanon fan, his exercises are valuable in that they are easy to learn due to their repetition of patterns. It’s impossible to say for sure from a distance, but they may be applicable and helpful to you. Just make sure you do them musically, and transpose them into various keys!

I wish you lots of musical joy and success.

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