Three Common Questions Asked by Teacher/Facilitators Concerning Adult Piano Learners

We would like to thank Jackie Edwards-Henry for this insightful article on teaching adults. Want to learn more about adult teaching? Register for the free webinar, “It’s Never Too Late: Lived Experiences of Adult Piano Learners” presented by Pei-Chen Chen and Elizabeth Haddon, hosted by Alejandro Cremaschi on October 25. Learn more and register here:

1. What motivates adults to take piano lessons?

In general, adult students seek piano study because they are motivated to do so, in contrast to children who may be enrolled in piano by a parent. Although specific reasons vary by adult, these are the two most common responses: a) “I’ve always wanted to learn to play, and now I have the time and means to do so;” b) “I had other interests as a child and quit lessons, but now I want to learn.”

2. Which is better: private lessons or group classes?

Adult students can find success and satisfaction with piano study in private lessons, group classes, and a hybrid mix of private with an overlapped partner lesson. Factors affecting the choice of study include personality, amount of previous piano study, and specific goals. Adults with no previous piano study often enjoy group classes because of the reduced cost and camaraderie with other adult beginners. Adults who are resuming study with specific learning goals often prefer private lessons to enable primary focus on the achievement of those goals. Discussions of pros and cons of different lesson options in the interview stage can help facilitators and adult learners select a suitable lesson format.

3. What is the best curriculum for adult learners?

In the June/July 2023 issue of American Music Teacher, E.L. Lancaster cited two recent research studies involving adult learners in the “What’s New” column. In summary, recent research showed that adults with little to no previous piano study were happier when teachers structured the program of study, whereas those with more background in piano study wanted to work WITH teachers to structure their programs.

For a closer look at adult piano learners in private and group study, we invite you to attend  the October 25, 2023 Webinar, “It’s Never Too Late: Lived Experiences of Adult Piano Learners” by Pei-Chen Chen and Elizabeth Haddon, hosted by Alejandro Cremaschi. Learn more and register here:


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Jackie Edwards-Henry, Ph.D, is Professor Emeritus of Music at Mississippi State University and chairs the Committee on Teaching Adults for NCKP.  She remains active as a collaborative pianist, harpsichordist, church musician, group piano specialist, and teacher of adults.

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