How long will it take?? : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread


I have just turned 40 and decided it was time to try and learn to read music and play the piano. I figured it is now or never. I have always enjoyed the sound of the piano, but felt reading music was a mystery more suited for the “artsy types”. Apart from my natural affection for the sound of the piano, what motivated me, was to learn how to play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”. This piece has always been my favorite – I guess I must be a romantic?

So it’s 4 months later and now I can read music and play the piano to some extent. I can play the “Moonlight Sonata”(all 6 ½ minutes and approx. 900 notes worth!) from memory and quite well. I can also play “Fur Elise” from memory, but my fingers cannot play the 1/16th notes fast enough (never mind the 1/32nds)

I would like to know how long will it take to develop the kind of finger speed and precision to play faster, tougher pieces properly, including the “Fur Elise” and pieces like Mozart’s Sonata in C?

Listening to a concert pianist whip through phrases and notes at a mile a minute is phenomenal. Can anyone who devotes enough time and practice do this or is this more of a natural gift??

Appreciate any insights. Thanks.

-- Tony Benjamin (, March 04, 2001


Tony Congrats on learning those peices in a short time. It goes to show that when you put your mind to it you can make some progress fast. Now as for finger speed, it will take longer to build up the technique needed for that, I would get yourself some decent technical exercises and work you fingers with those. Music is a journey, not a destination, and now that you've learned a couple of peices, take a crack at some Mozart or Chopin, these will give you some new challenges. By the way, have you performed your peices for anyone? Maybe you would enjoy that. Hats off to your hard work.

-- Kyle (, March 05, 2001.

Thanks for the reply Kyle.

Yes, I do play the Moonlight Sonata, ocassionally for some friends as well as when I'm in a piano store trying different pianos. I believe I have tried every grand and upright piano made now..Bechstein, Schimmel, Petrof, Bosendorfer, Steinway, Weber, Walter Charles, Yamaha, Young chang, Baldwin, Heintzman, Knabe, Kawai, etc, etc, etc. I love the sound of a 7ft plus Steinway, Bosendorfer or Schimmel. It's dangerous to have expensive taste!! But, perhaps some day I will be able to have one.

I do enjoy playing in front of people, but only with something I feel I am relatively competent with, which so far is only the Moonlight Sonata. But, I will endeavour to become beteer, particularily with the speed of play and sight reading (man that's difficult) Who knows perhaps in 10 - 20 years I'll be a semi decent pianist??

Thanks again.

-- Tony (, March 05, 2001.


My teacher would tell me NOT to listen to a concert pianist's recording of a piece you're working on. At least not right away. Don't strive to play it just like that. More than likely, it's being played faster than the composer probably intended. Enjoy the piece, learn the notes, and play it at a speed that's comfortable to you. If you should be so blessed as to take it comfortably to the speed of a concert pianist, so much the better. But that's sometimes unrealistic. Take care.


-- Jim Woodside (, March 05, 2001.

My hats off to you Tony. Kyle is correct that you have just begun to realize your potential when you put your mind to it. As a concert pianist I must tell you that Kyle is also correct that learning is a life long pursuit, we are all still students and continue to learn. I would caution you to compair yourself to any concert pianist you have heard. You must take some things into consideration. First, none of the pianist you have heard got to where they are after six months of practice, but rather have invested years and years to perfecting their art and technique. One day you may very well be able to play just as well, but be patient and let it happen naturally. Also, what was said about playing at a tempo that is comfortable for you is correct. Tempo is a subjective aspect in music and you will find pianist differing on the correct tempo for the same piece. If Fur Elise and Moonlight Sonata sounds good to you, even if it is not as fast as a pianist you have heard, then why push yourself just for the sake of speed. It is a fact, and a sad commentary on pianism in our modern age, that a lot of great concert pianist play fast, only because they can and not because they should. Keep up the hard work and your dreams for playing the piano will come true. I love hearing stories such as yours from adults that are discovering the magic of music for the first time. Good luck!


-- Phil King (, March 06, 2001.


Thanks for that advice. I shall use it. It’s tough at times, though, not to get a bit frustrated at playing a tune, never missing a note, and then listen to a recorded version, they sometimes don’t even sound similar, because of the difference in speed. (lol)


Thank you for the reply. I can truly appreciate the skill and talent required to be able to play a piece you like and have learned thoroughly at any tempo you desire, depending on your mood and interpretation of the piece. I have heard the Moonlight Sonata played at a “fast tempo – 5 ½ min approx” and a “slow tempo – 6 ½ min approx)”, so far my personal preference is for the slow speed (seems more “complex” (?) and emotional). The Fur Elise recording I’ve heard is by Sylvia Capova and man it sounds great! While I can play the piece, it’s gonna be some time before it’s gonna sound that nice. But I understand that you’ve got to crawl before walking and am hopeful of having those “breakthroughs” in years to come… Thanks again.

-- Tony B (, March 06, 2001.


One more word of encouragement concearning the idea that you must walk before you can crawl. Remember that everything that requires hard work, effort, and time, you will treat with more respect and with more delight. If it comes too easy for you, you will not get as much enjoyment out of it in my opinion. I am reminded of a child prodigy during the '80's from Greece. His name was Dimitri, don't recall his last name. He was already a world superstar pianist at the age of 12. It all came too easy for him and he is nowhere to be found now. I would be surprised if he is even still playing. The pieces that I have sweated over, cried over, cussed at, and stubbornly labored over are the ones that I love the most and play with all the emotion I have. Those are the ones that take literally years to master, but in the end it is worth it because of the respect and extacy you feel in finally mastering them and more importantly, the respect you feel for the genius that wrote them in the first place.

-- Phil King (, March 07, 2001.

To Phil King


I think the Greek pianist you were thinking of is Dmitris Sgouros.

He was to have made a return performance at Carnegie Hall last year but I never heard any more.

Others might know more.


-- Mark McKenzie (, March 31, 2001.

NB Accidently put hotmail as my email address in previous post Humble Apologies

To Phil King-


I think the Greek pianist you were thinking of is Dmitris Sgouros.

He was to have made a return performance at Carnegie Hall last year but I never heard any more.

Others might know more.


-- Mark McKenzie (, March 31, 2001.

For those interested, Dimitris Sgouros has a web page at:

-- Mark Johnstone (, May 15, 2001.

Hi Tony, With your attitude in Music, you must be an emerging pianist in the near future. You are very talented and I admire you. With that short period of time you can now play those pieces. With respect to speed, I suggest that try to incorporate exercises in your playing time( scale exercise, etudes etc.)

Thanks. Roy

-- Roy Hernando (, October 02, 2001.

Um...dude, the piece is in 6/8 time, I think. That means that the 16th notes are equivalent to 8th notes, and the 32nd equivalent to 16th.

-- Dude (, July 14, 2003.

With the semiquaver phrase in the third page (CG'GG'AGBGCGDGEGCBAGFEDGFD etc...) a technique that I find useful is to kind of 'spin' your wrist whilst keeping your fingers kind of still. It's hard to describe, but you could liken it to playing the notes with your wrist, instead of with your fingers. It is especially useful in some of Hayden's music, he reeeaaaally likes those kinds of passages sometimes!!! Hope this helps Tony...

-- Cian Johnston (, August 16, 2004.

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