Are piano lessons worth it? This is a discussion a lot of families have when they’re considering the next steps for their kids. It’s also a question for adults who are thinking of taking up the hobby.
There is always a balance to strike when you’re spending money to gain new skills. Most people agree that it is fantastic to be able to play the piano. The benefits to your mental health and cognitive ability are undeniable. However, it can be a very costly exercise. Not everyone can afford piano lessons, at least not in the traditional sense.
In this guide, we’re looking at whether piano lessons are worth it. We’re not just talking about money. Are piano lessons worth it when it comes to the time and effort invested? Will the benefits of playing the piano mean that you consider it a worthy pursuit?
We realize that everyone’s situation is slightly different. For some people, the money and time may come more easily than others. This guide will help you to evaluate whether you should take the plunge. We also explore the idea of “in-person” lessons.
The Digital Revolution and Piano Lessons
Right from the outset, it makes sense to understand the difference between learning piano now, and learning 20, and even 100 years ago.
Before the internet, or even in the infancy of the internet, learning anything was very different. Playing the piano is a specialist skill, as such, you would need a specialist teacher. Only a limited few had the knowledge.
20 or 30 years ago, this would have involved finding someone in the Yellow Pages or other print advertising, and either going to their place for lessons, or getting them to come to you. 100 years ago, lessons may have been reserved for the wealthy, only taking place in certain schools or other educational establishments. Are piano lessons worth it to a wealthy businessman’s children in the early 1900s? The answer is probably “yes”. This stems from the wealth that they may have had, but also the fact that there were few alternatives.
Going back even further, before recorded music was commonly available, piano was even more specialist. Reading music was 100% essential, and even fewer people had the skill to teach you how to play.
That’s the difference in the digital revolution; you have an alternative route.
How Learning to Play The Piano is Easier (And More Affordable) Now
You won’t need me to tell you, when it comes to learning, the internet changed everything. Now, you have more knowledge available to you than ever before. Something that only a few people in your local area might have had the answer to 30 years ago, you can find the answer in seconds on the internet.
Back then, if you had forgotten how to play a “B7” chord and didn’t have a book to show you, then you might have had to wait a week until your next lesson to ask your teacher. Now, you can find the results in a fraction of a second online, and be ready to play.
We’re not suggesting you just use a search engine to learn how to play the piano. Most people find that structure is very helpful.
Ways of learning online include:
- Following a course. Pianu is an example of an interactive course, so just like a real teacher would, it gives you feedback on whether you are playing something correctly.
- Video lessons. Many of the top courses on platforms like Udemy involve learning an instrument via video content. YouTube does have some great information (though you might have to wade through some trash to find it).
- Online lessons. Instead of having to visit a physical location, you can learn via Zoom or another online platform. This may save on travel expenses and be cheaper in general.
The video below shows a good example of how online lessons can work. They aren’t as interactive as learning in-person, but there are a number of benefits.
Are Piano Lessons Expensive?
As we’ve already mentioned, cost is far from the only consideration for those who are looking to learn how to play the piano. If you’re going to gain a hobby you love for the rest of your life, it may not matter to you how much it costs.
For most people, there is at least some consideration of the finances involved.
Without knowing where each and every reader is based, it’s impossible for us to give you a guideline on exactly how much piano lessons will cost. We’ve covered the subject in some detail in this guide to the cost of piano lessons.
Let’s say you are having a weekly lesson. It isn’t unusual for this to cost $50. Over the year, that’s over $2,500.
Compare this to a monthly membership on a website platform, and you will see what a huge saving you are likely to make. The impact on your bank balance is almost inevitably going to impact what you choose.
To properly establish the answer to the question of “are piano lessons worth it for you?” you should think about the specific benefits of learning in person, and learning online. It could be that you can justify a membership for online learning, but not a weekly visit to a teacher.
In-Person Lesson Benefits
- A personalized work plan and feedback.
- Possible opportunities to take exams and learn piano “grades”.
- The opportunity to ask specific questions to a teacher.
What sort of person normally opts for in-person lessons? Someone who is incredibly dedicated to the hobby, or even has professional aspirations, might opt for a teacher in person.
Online Lesson Benefits
- You can take lessons whatever time and whichever days are suitable for you.
- No travel expenses.
- Go at your own pace.
- It’s usually far more affordable.
- Focus on the songs you wish to learn.
What sort of person usually opts for online lessons? Hobbyists, those who are short of time and anyone who is trying to save some money on their piano lessons.
Are Piano Lessons Worth It – The Time Investment
Most people who start to learn the piano never get to the stage they set out to. Why is this? It’s impossible to know exactly, but an informed guess will tell you that it is usually the time and effort it takes.
It could be that you are incredibly dedicated and that you will make the time. Most people can, if they are dedicated and really passionate about learning. However, not everyone fits this category.
If you are a college senior preparing for exams, or in a stressful period at work, you might find that the time investment is too much. Conversely, you might find that piano becomes your chance to unwind and relax at the end of a difficult day.
If you physically feel like you can’t add any more to your packed daily schedule, maybe learning the piano isn’t ideal at this time. Are piano lessons worth it if you can only spare 20-30 minutes a day? Absolutely, this is enough time to get to a good level of ability if you stick with it.
How Many Piano Lessons Do You Need?
As well as “are piano lessons worth it?” this is one of the most common questions newcomers have. How long does it take to get to a good level of ability? Unfortunately, we have to be a bit vague with our answer. There is no formula to work this one out.
Some people pick it up very quickly, whereas others take years to get to the level they want to be at. The good news is that if you want to learn how to play the piano, you can start playing melodies in a matter of a few days of practice. Our academy is laid out in a way that builds knowledge towards being able to play actual songs, not just endlessly using practice exercises.
If you have professional aspirations, it might not be an exaggeration to say years or even decades of practice could be required. If you just want to be able to play the chords to some pop songs, a few months might be more realistic.
The video below delves into some of the specifics of learning how to play the piano, and how long they might take.
The time investment comes down to two questions:
- Can you spare about 20 minutes a day (on average) to learn the piano?
- Are you willing to be realistic about making incremental progress?
The Benefits of Playing The Piano – An Overview
We could spend hours explaining the benefits of learning piano. In fact, we have! There are so many benefits of learning how to play the piano, and some of the prominent mental health benefits can be found here.
Mental health benefits of playing the piano include:
- An increase in self-confidence. Allowing you to set goals and achieving them is one of the key ways in which the piano boosts your well-being. This helps us to establish a sense of agency.
- Music can boost dopamine levels. Dr Vicky Williamson who is based within Goldsmiths College, University of London, explains that “music is inextricably linked with our deepest reward systems.”
- Music can provide you with a social activity that can help to boost the human need for social interaction.
It is generally accepted that playing the piano can also boost cognition. Effectively, it can enhance the brain’s ability to process certain things and even make us smarter in a few ways:
- Improving the brain’s capacity for multi-tasking. You can become more co-ordinated by playing the piano and because of the fact you are constantly having to do more with both hands (and sometimes even your feet).
- Increasing neural connections. Neural connections are what keep the brain “sharp”. In some ways, the brain needs to be exercised, and the neural connections made as you learn to play the piano, and other skills such as reading music, are a perfect exercise.
- Staving off the effects of aging. Studies have shown that playing the piano for older people can be a way to keep your brain from deteriorating. Improvements to recall and other cognitive skills have been recorded in studies.
- Similarly, playing the piano can help children with their motor skills, and form the foundation of their knowledge and co-ordination for later in life. Children who took piano lessons have been shown to perform better academically.
Learning Piano For Children
Are piano lessons worth it for kids? Luckily for children, they will be able to leave mom and dad to think about the payments. So, it will be the parent’s decision whether or not learning piano for children is worth the money, the time, and the stress of actually getting your kid to practice and engage!
Perhaps the question should be aimed more at parents. Is it worth trying to get your children interested in playing the piano? Is it worth the investment in lessons, and even the equipment?
In the majority of situations, the answer is “yes”. We think it is worth trying to get your kids interested in the piano. There are a huge number of benefits in terms of the development, but if you consider how much cheaper and more attainable it has become to learn how to play the piano, you don’t have much to lose.
The approach to take with your children needs to be thought out. If you decide to buy a full-sized piano, and spend a lot of money on getting in-person piano lessons once a week for your child, your investment could be massive. If they then decide that they are not actually interested, it could all be for nothing.
This brings us to a key point; accessibility.
A $50 MIDI keyboard and a trial of Pianu are all you need to get started now. If your child doesn’t take to the hobby straight away, it’s a shame, but it isn’t the huge loss of money that it would have once been. The cost of equipment is coming down, and affordable memberships to interactive learning platforms make it a more accessible hobby for everyone.
The video below, made by Piano powerhouse brand Roland, shows many of the benefits of getting your children to learn piano.
Pianu’s academy is aimed at people of all ages. Because of the fact that we have a huge catalog of songs to learn from, there are plenty of simple nursery rhymes to get children started. These can be great for building knowledge gradually but also for keeping children engaged. Maybe you can teach them “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or even something more modern such as the Minecraft theme.
What Age Should Kids Start?
There are examples of children starting to learn how to play the piano as young as three-years-old. There is no one answer to the question of when to start your children, and it can be a tough balancing act. You don’t want to try and push a child unless they are showing interest, but to stand them in the best stead for learning the piano, you might want to start them relatively young.
Another great video from Roland on the subject. As soon as you think your child might be interested an willing to actually concentrate for 20 minutes, it could be time to try out a piano lesson.
Piano Lessons as an Investment in Your Future
This article is aimed mainly at hobbyists. At least, it has been so far. Piano lessons might be seen as something of a luxury if you are just doing it as a hobby, however, you probably shouldn’t look at it that way if your plan is to make a career out of the piano.
A very select and dedicated few go on to become concert or band pianists, but plenty of jobs require skills on the piano directly:
- Being a piano or music teacher yourself.
- Composing for film and television.
- Tuning pianos.
- Producing music in recording studios.
- Playing in a wedding or tribute band.
- Music therapy.
There are many other examples of piano career. Are piano lessons worth it if you have aspirations of a professional career as a pianist? The answer is usually “yes” in this scenario. If you are going to make money out of your piano skills in the future then it takes some of the pressure off. Piano might even become profitable for you.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t attempt to learn the piano if it is only ever going to be a hobby, however, it is seen as less of an investment in this way.
Even if a piano isn’t directly a part of your career, all of the cognitive and mental health benefits we discussed may help you in your existing career. Piano can be a form of self-care and a form of self-improvement.
Saving Money on Learning The Piano
As we’ve already mentioned, it is more affordable than ever to get a beginner setup to play the piano. There are other ways in which you can save some cash on your journey to becoming a pianist.
It makes sense to do things on a budget initially, especially if you are not sure whether or not the hobby will continue. People who are wondering “are piano lessons worth it?” are often thinking of the money involved, so it will come as a relief to know it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Ways to save money include:
- Borrowing equipment. You might be able to borrow a keyboard from someone to get started. You don’t need the best piano to start playing.
- Buying second hand. There is a big market for second-hand instruments, including pianos.
- Take advantage of trials. You can start your online lessons or course for free if there is a trial offered.
- Consider group classes. A group class is often cheaper due to the fact that the teacher doesn’t have to give the time to just one student.
- Get as much information as you can for free online. There is good information out there for those who have the dedication to search for it.
As your skills improve, it might be worth investing more periodically. For example, if you start with a keyboard that doesn’t have velocity-sensitivity or a “hammer action” it might not have the most realistic feel to it. Eventually, you will probably want to upgrade. Until you have built up some level of skill, there might not be much of a point in doing so.
The main message that we really want people to consider when they are looking to learn how to play the piano is that cost and time don’t have to get in the way too much. Sure, you will have to invest some of both, but you’re not talking about thousands of dollars and hours every day.
Someone who can spare enough for a monthly membership on a course, and can get a simple setup to get started, has all they need. Are piano lessons worth it? When you consider the fact that you don’t have to put yourself through the expense of in-person lessons anymore, there is a solution for virtually everyone, meaning that piano lessons are worth it for anyone wanting to pursue their passion for the instrument.