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HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8? (Read 98492 times)

Offline brogers70

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #50 on: March 12, 2014, 09:55:23 PM »
If you're starting as an adult, you are not aiming for a career in piano, just going for enjoyment. In that case you have plenty of years to work with. I started at 40, without ever having played the piano, although I had played classical guitar and had done some music theory and ear training. Now, at 55, with a good teacher, I've played lots of Haydn and Mozart sonatas, a couple of Beethoven ones (the early E major, C minor, and the Pastorale) 6 of the 8 Schubert Impromptus, a few Brahms Intermezzi, WTC Book I P&F in C minor, D minor, G major, Ab major, the Revolutionary Etude. I practice a lot, 2 hours a day in the first years and now 3-4. So I feel I can play plenty of very interesting music. On the other hand, I could have developed a good bit faster, I think, except that for the first 12 years I either had no teacher or teachers who didn't take teaching technique to adults seriously. If I'd had my current teacher from the start, I think I could have gotten to this level in 5-6 years instead of 15.

Offline paperdesigner

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #51 on: March 13, 2014, 01:45:04 AM »
If you're starting as an adult, you are not aiming for a career in piano, just going for enjoyment. In that case you have plenty of years to work with. I started at 40, without ever having played the piano, although I had played classical guitar and had done some music theory and ear training. Now, at 55, with a good teacher, I've played lots of Haydn and Mozart sonatas, a couple of Beethoven ones (the early E major, C minor, and the Pastorale) 6 of the 8 Schubert Impromptus, a few Brahms Intermezzi, WTC Book I P&F in C minor, D minor, G major, Ab major, the Revolutionary Etude. I practice a lot, 2 hours a day in the first years and now 3-4. So I feel I can play plenty of very interesting music. On the other hand, I could have developed a good bit faster, I think, except that for the first 12 years I either had no teacher or teachers who didn't take teaching technique to adults seriously. If I'd had my current teacher from the start, I think I could have gotten to this level in 5-6 years instead of 15.

I'm aiming for a career at the piano. I don't know how possible it is, really, to go from nothing to concert pianist (but then again, it may be possible), but why not a career? I say if you care passionately about piano and/or music in general, and nothing else as much, there's always a niche to find.

Offline francisco40295

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #52 on: March 13, 2014, 03:31:06 PM »
Guys, most people sure know a lot here, but let's take my case.
I've been playing for 2 years, and I can play, among other things, Mov 1 and 3 of tempest sonata, quite well.

Isn't that grade 8? I'm also learning pathetique Mov 1... among, for exmaple prelude 15 chopin, beethoven sonata 25.

Offline kopower

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #53 on: March 13, 2014, 10:06:39 PM »
Congratulations on your amazing piano progress paperdesigner and others on this thread. It is inspiring.

In the end it's all about how passionate you are - my opinion is that age favours you !

Offline grade8pianoman

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #54 on: July 15, 2020, 10:30:40 PM »
8 months assuming 40 hours practice per day, 1 grade per month. Probably 9, to allow an extra months practice of the difficult scales.

Offline tschilb

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #55 on: July 18, 2020, 11:17:26 PM »
Great Question. It depends completely on how dedicated you will be to learning. I estimate it will take 5-10 years to truly reach this level of proficiency, but with proper training, you'll be happy with how you improve in no time.

Also, what do you think about PianoForAll? https://bit.ly/2DQV1ze

Offline dogperson

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #56 on: July 18, 2020, 11:44:38 PM »
Great Question. It depends completely on how dedicated you will be to learning. I estimate it will take 5-10 years to truly reach this level of proficiency, but with proper training, you'll be happy with how you improve in no time.

Also, what do you think about PianoForAll? https://bit.ly/2DQV1ze



What do I think?  That you are spamming the forum

Offline vertigo1974

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #57 on: July 29, 2020, 02:17:36 PM »
I started totally from scratch in my earlyish 30s, and after nearly 6 years i was one week away from doing my Grade 7 exam (then my son was born and I didn't touch the piano again for 5.5 years  :) - i'm just restarting now)

I got distinctions at Grade 4 and 5, skipped Grade 6 practical (though I did Grade 6 theory). I had a great teacher, and i practiced pretty obsessively - at least 15 hours a week, often 20+, to the extent where in hindsight it took over my life considerably.

I would also say that my progress was starting to get noticeably slower. I was naturally good at memorizing, but my sight-reading was awful - way below where it should have been - and it was taking me longer and longer to learn my pieces, so by Grade 7 when the pieces starts to become longer and more complex, I was aware that it was taking me longer and longer to learn new stuff.

I also think around Grade 7 / 8 you start to have to really understand what you are playing on a deeper level, and start learning to perform rather than just play the notes. I found that challenging and was aware that, along with my reading, it was this that was probably going to be a big hurdle in my getting much further. Really engaging emotionally with the pieces and being able to communicate that to the listener isn't trivial at all - i guess ultimately that's the whole point of learning an instrument and of being musical.

I've recently restarted, and decided to do pretty much nothing but work on my sight reading until I feel comfortable reading at a level that matches where i was with my pieces / scales etc...

I think it's like anything, the more you want it and the harder you work, the quicker it will happen. But ultimately it's better to just enjoy the process and let it happen at it's own pace

Offline ranjit

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #58 on: July 29, 2020, 07:17:09 PM »
 bernhard's old posts seem to suggest 2-3 years for a dedicated student (who can put on a few hours a day) with a really good teacher. One previous poster managed to get there in one year starting at age 15, but he also had extremely good instruction.

You might say that such people are exceptions to the rule, but I prefer to take heart from positive examples, rather than get demotivated by looking at the overwhelming majority who haven't succeeded.

Though I can't lay claim to being at grade 8 because I haven't focused at all on sight reading, I can play pieces at grade 8 difficulty or maybe even higher (with the exception of Bach, whose music I haven't studied much), and have a good foundation in music theory, including common practice harmony. I have been playing for 4-5 years, self-taught. I'm sure I could have got there quicker because I haven't focused much at all on playing classical piano all this while.

Offline fftransform

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #59 on: July 30, 2020, 02:28:39 AM »
I don't know what the aural/sight-reading parts look like, but the scales and arpeggios . . . yeah sure, 2 years sounds about right if you're being serious about it.  I looked at their repertoire list, it seems doable but kinda on the edge unless you've spent a lot of time doing sight-reading.  But how long do they tell you ahead of time what the pieces are?  If they're only giving you a month, then no, I wouldn't expect to have the reading skills after just two years.  3 or 4 sounds totally reasonable tho.

Offline ranjit

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #60 on: July 30, 2020, 04:40:57 AM »
You can pick anything from the grade lists, so you know exactly what pieces there are from the start. Also, you can skip grades and only give grade 5 and grade 8 exams.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #61 on: July 30, 2020, 08:35:34 AM »
I started learning piano in the last year of high school. I did grade five after 2 1/2 years, then grade 8 about 18 months later. I was trying to make up for not having played since childhood so I practising about 20 hours a week for those 4 years.

Offline ranjit

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #62 on: July 30, 2020, 09:58:46 AM »
I've seen a number of examples of people with great memory or natural dexterity/technical ability who were able to learn piano quickly. Was anyone here very 'talented' at sight reading, or do you know anyone like that? Maybe someone who started from scratch, and was able to sightread grade 4-5 pieces within a year?

Just curious about the differences in the learning curves of piano technique, vs sight-reading.

Offline grade8pianoman

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #63 on: July 30, 2020, 11:10:38 PM »
Scales, arpeggios, broken chords etc. all doable with 40 hours per day practice over 6 months, then another two months for the pieces ( make it a month each for the pieces) over another 3 months ( all the time keeping scales, arpeggios going) during the 40 hours per week practice )= 9 months.
If you want distinction, then probably another month. Good luck !

Offline grade8pianoman

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #64 on: July 30, 2020, 11:11:18 PM »
Scales, arpeggios, broken chords etc. all doable with 40 hours per day practice over 6 months, then another two months for the pieces ( make it a month each for the pieces) over another 3 months ( all the time keeping scales, arpeggios going) during the 40 hours per week practice )= 9 months.
If you want distinction, then probably another month. Good luck !

Offline dogperson

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #65 on: July 30, 2020, 11:33:00 PM »
I've seen a number of examples of people with great memory or natural dexterity/technical ability who were able to learn piano quickly. Was anyone here very 'talented' at sight reading, or do you know anyone like that? Maybe someone who started from scratch, and was able to sightread grade 4-5 pieces within a year?

Just curious about the differences in the learning curves of piano technique, vs sight-reading.


Sight reading grade 5 within a year? Hogwash
That means playing grade 7 repertoire within a year.
Fluent sightreading required the proficiency to recognize chords, and patterns and being able to read ahead without staring at your hands. This takes time and skill development.

Offline dogperson

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #66 on: July 30, 2020, 11:46:51 PM »
You can pick anything from the grade lists, so you know exactly what pieces there are from the start. Also, you can skip grades and only give grade 5 and grade 8 exams.


And what does this get you? A certificate for grade xxx, when you have muddled through a few pieces just to pass an exam but have not developed many skills that will transfer to other music.  Being able to play a couple of pieces at Grade xxx doesn't make  you a grade xxx player.

It generally doesn’t get you interpretive skills other than mimicking what someone else has done. The piano deserves better than just skimming the surface so a list can be checked.  Taking the time to learn progressively opens up a world of music that will not happen by rushing through. The goal should be to play beautifully, no matter what ‘grade’ of the music.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #67 on: July 31, 2020, 03:05:55 AM »
Sight reading grade 5 within a year? Hogwash
Perhaps hogwash from your perspective and experiences but there certainly are people who can read at this level and higher after a shorter amount of time, it of course is very uncommon.
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Offline ranjit

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #68 on: July 31, 2020, 06:09:25 AM »
Sight reading grade 5 within a year? Hogwash
That means playing grade 7 repertoire within a year.
I don't know about sight reading grade 5 within a year, but I know it is definitely possible if you're really dedicated to play grade 7 pieces within a year. I learned the Chopin Nocturne in Eb major around 18 months after starting out (it took me one month to learn), while I was self-taught. If I had a good teacher who could work to my strengths, I can only presume that I would have been able to get to that point within a year.

I think ajspiano was able to get to grade 8 in a year iirc. I remember reading it on the forum somewhere.

Also, note that I was asking whether there was some "talented" individuals you know who were able to learn that fast. I wasn't talking about your average student.

Okay, I just checked and realized the nocturne is grade 6 ABRSM. I think my point still stands, though. Also, I'm not sure about your calculation of sight reading being 2 levels below your playing ability. Does that even work for conservatory students? Would someone playing Gaspard de la Nuit be able to sight read Chopin Etudes/entire Beethoven sonatas? Someone talented at sight reading might have uneven development of their abilities.




Offline dogperson

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #69 on: July 31, 2020, 06:39:35 AM »
I don't know about sight reading grade 5 within a year, but I know it is definitely possible if you're really dedicated to play grade 7 pieces within a year. I learned the Chopin Nocturne in Eb major around 18 months after starting out (it took me one month to learn), while I was self-taught. If I had a good teacher who could work to my strengths, I can only presume that I would have been able to get to that point within a year.

I think ajspiano was able to get to grade 8 in a year iirc. I remember reading it on the forum somewhere.

Also, note that I was asking whether there was some "talented" individuals you know who were able to learn that fast. I wasn't talking about your average student.

Okay, I just checked and realized the nocturne is grade 6 ABRSM. I think my point still stands, though. Also, I'm not sure about your calculation of sight reading being 2 levels below your playing ability. Does that even work for conservatory students? Would someone playing Gaspard de la Nuit be able to sight read Chopin Etudes/entire Beethoven sonatas? Someone talented at sight reading might have uneven development of their abilities.


Just because any of us can learn one xxx grade piece does not make us a grade xxx player. A ‘level’ should be what we can generally play.... and musically not just the notes  and rhythm. 

Sight reading is generally two OR MORE levels below what music can be consistently learned.  To develop this skill, lots of music must be sight read to improve otherwise the gap may be bigger than two levels.

Offline ranjit

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #70 on: July 31, 2020, 08:12:29 AM »
Just because any of us can learn one xxx grade piece does not make us a grade xxx player. A ‘level’ should be what we can generally play.... and musically not just the notes  and rhythm. 
Sure, I was able to play pieces of a similar style at a similar standard, musically. I would have struggled with Bach and Mozart, but that is because I'd never been interested in them until that point, so I had no practice with them. To play musically, all you need is a good conception of a piece in your head imo. The fingers will follow eventually. That said, you might miss out on some subtle aspects, but you can still come up with a passably good interpretation, and those aspects can often be corrected with some slight improvements over a few days later on.

I can guarantee that there are people who are more talented than me out there, who may have even gotten better instruction. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if many people were able to get to a grade 8 standard in a year or two. I'm not saying your average Joe would, but many people would be able to do it. (I mean, maybe 1 in 100 or 1 in 1000 people). And as I said, I think ajspiano actually did that, starting at age 15, and went on to a conservatory.

I think you are unfairly ruling out the possibility that a person could advance quickly.

Offline grantuss

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Re: HOw long does it take for an adult piano learner to reach Grade 8?
«Reply #71 on: August 21, 2020, 11:01:24 AM »
It has taken me 2.5 years to get to the point where i'm attempting Grade 3 piece. 

It took me 12 months to get to Grade 1.  A Grade 1 piece 18 months ago took me 3 or 4 weeks to learn by playing at least 15-20 minutes per day.

Now I will learn a Grade 1 piece by memory in 4 or 5 days with similar practice.

I'm 44, 4 kids, work full time and coach my son's football team.  Time is sparing.

To be honest I really enjoy the fact I can now play music that I enjoy.  Once I got to the point I had 4 or 5 grade 1 pieces under my belt I decided to expand on them rather than jump straight to grade 2.  I've done a grade 2 piece which I didn't find much harder than Grade 1 but the jump to Grade 3 is noticeably more difficult but enjoyable all the same.  I guess i'm kind of on track for the '1 grade per year' rate of improvement.  It is important to me to see progression but not the be all and end all.  I'd rather expand my repertoire at lower grades before trying to rush ahead.

My only regret is that I didn't come to the instrument years ago.  I can't do anything about that now but I can enjoy the present and look forward to what lies ahead.

I'm certainly not playing Chopin or the like within a year.  Perhaps one day.  There's plenty to keep me going meantime until that day arrives.

I hope this resonates with other adult learners.