Q: What is the best age to start piano?

A: There is no ‘ideal’ age to start learning piano. Children can start around the age of 4 or 5 and upwards and many teenagers and adults can begin too. Both have their advantages – being younger motor skills can kick in faster for playing whilst being older there is a quicker grasp of theory and notes. There is no ideal though!

Q: What do I need to start lessons?

A: It is good to bring a notebook, a music manuscript (you can get in any music shop) and if you are a beginner there will be a recommended beginners book usually John Thompson.

How long does it take to learn how to play?

I would say that within 3 or 4 weeks you would be able to play some simple songs at beginners level and after a few months you would have progressed to some simple pieces usually 16 bars in length. It all builds over time but you will have some simple melodies within a few weeks.

Q: How much practice do I need to do?

A: This is a question debated among teachers but I will give you my simple answer: 15-20 minutes a day is advisable for a beginner level, even every other day being realistic if it can be built into your routine. For more advanced students from Grade One and upwards I would recommend 30 – 40 minutes daily at least, especially if working towards an exam.

Q: How many exams are there and what level are they?

A: There are three ‘beginners’ exams with the Royal Irish Academy – elementary, preliminary and primary. Elementary is the first exam and the next two get a little more challenging. After that there are 8 grades, numbered I – VIII. These increase in difficulty as they progress, with Grade VI considered an advanced level onwards.