Is Piano Hard To Learn?

One commonly asked question I get is this: "is piano hard to learn?" And if you're thinking about taking up the instrument, it's worth considering before really committing to learning. 

So we'll go into some thoughts about this including:

  • What It's Like in The Beginning of Learning Piano
  • What You're Learning First
  • The Style You Want To Learn Impacts Difficulty
  • Is classical piano hard to learn?
  • Are piano chords hard to learn?
  • Is jazz piano hard to learn?
  • Is blues piano hard to learn?
  • Are hymns and worship piano hard to learn?
  • How to Make Learning Piano Easier

What It's Like in The Beginning of Learning Piano

When I first get a student started in piano, they look at their piano book and think it looks so hard. They can't imagine that they can work it all out. And they can't at first, they need a guide or teacher, like me. 

But it can seem overwhelming because it's not just the piano keyboard that you need to understand but learning to read music or piano chords at the same time. It's this combination that makes it harder often times. 

What I know and that you, the student, doesn't in the beginning, is that it's really not that hard and all it takes is a little practice. And 3 months down the line you'll be looking back thinking that what you thought was so hard really isn't. How much you can learn in just one year is immense.

So the beginning has a learning curve, just like anything else. But if you use piano books that are well laid out (like these adult piano books or kids piano books I use in my lessons), you'll be alright. 

What You're Learning First

When beginning piano, there's a lot of information to take in. It's like learning a new language. You need some foundational information. There are 2 main areas in learning piano to address after learning the keys of the piano.

One area is learning notes. Learning notes can be a little bit hard only because it takes memorization.

The other area is rhythm. Some people really struggle with rhythm while it comes completely naturally for others. For most, the struggle isn't that common and happens more with little children.

The Style You Want To Learn Impacts Difficulty

3 people learning piano

The biggest thing that may impact if piano is hard to learn for you is what style you want to play. And even that you want to play. How much you want to learn music will impact how hard it is to you.

Here are some common styles and I'll include their difficulty level.

Is classical piano hard to learn?

Classical piano will start with the same foundation as everything else - learning the keys, to read music, and rhythm. 

So that part is fine and not too hard. 

When it comes time to head into classical music, some pieces of classical music are easier than others. So some pieces of music won't be too difficult but other music will be extremely difficult to play. So bits of music are really only for concert pianists. 

But you can learn to play classically. It takes a bit longer - 2-5 years perhaps, or longer - but if you want to learn to read and play music, it's the way to go. This is the way most people go. Children can do it, adults can do it and it's fun.

Are piano chords hard to learn?

One of the easiest and faster things you can learn on piano is piano chords. This is a bit of a shortcut around learning to read music and really understanding a different side of music and piano. 

I'd say piano chords are pretty easy and if you'd like to learn more about them, check out What Are Piano Chords as a first stop. 

Is jazz piano hard to learn?

Jazz is it's own kettle of fish and from my point of view, a bit hard to learn and understand. But that's because I really haven't played much in the way of jazz piano. 

To learn jazz piano, you need to:

  • understand chords
  • understand complex chords
  • learn some theory
  • learn to improvise

There can be some reading music involved too as you read lead sheets or fake sheets.

But if this is what you'd really like, it's totally possible and moves up in levels just like classical piano would.

Is blues piano hard to learn?

I would say blues is on the easier end of things, at least in the beginner and intermediate stages of learning piano. It is also less reliant on reading music which for some will make it much easier while for others, makes it harder. 

I've found some piano students are more willing to take risks and improvise while others really love the structure of reading music. So some of this depends on you and what you like. 

For blues you need to understand

  • blues music (be listening to it)
  • chords
  • blues scales
  • how to improvise

Are hymns and worship piano hard to learn?

I hear from people over and over who'd love to learn hymns and play for their church. Others would love to play modern worship music. 

Hymns are harder than modern worship music because they may involve reading music and can have many (many) chord changes. So you need to learn which chords to leave out. 

Playing gospel or modern worship music isn't all that hard. You need to learn to play chords but you can completely forgo reading music. Reading some is handy but not essential. 

Gospel piano lessons will help you further here.

piano with sheet music

How to Make Learning Piano Easier


The end. 

Okay, there's a bit more to it but what makes piano go so much easier is the amount of practice time you put in. When you learn something, practice it throughout the week. 

Let me give you an example. A real life example. 

I have 2 students right now, a 9 year old and an 11 year old. They are currently on the same song in their piano book. 

The 9 year old has been taking lessons for less than one year. She practices and is willing to learn 2 or 3 songs per week as opposed to one. 

The 11 year old has been taking lessons for over 3 years. He rarely practices. It takes him 3 or 4 weeks to do what he could have done in 1 week. He's still learning but at a much slower pace and only willing to learn one song at a time. He also finds it harder because he doesn't practice. So practice really helps. 

So if you want to learn piano, no matter what you want to learn, just practice. 

So Is Piano Hard To Learn?

My general answer to whether piano is hard to learn or not is no. It's really just fun. Just make sure you approach it the right way, learn what interests you and understand that it will take some practice.

Next steps:

And if you're still wondering, I do have another perspective with this common question: Is piano or guitar harder to learn?

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