How to Make The Class More Fun When Teaching Piano to Adults

William Cramer by William Cramer | Last Updated: June 13, 2020

When we think about people taking piano lessons, we usually think about, well, kids. No wonder – most of the piano playing, musical crowd did start to master this instrument at an early age.

Still, it is not only children that take to learning how to play the piano. There is a sizable chunk of adults eager to deepen their knowledge about music.

Or maybe some people wish to fulfill their musical, childhood dreams at a later stage of life. Or someone would simply like to learn how to play a particular song for a special occasion, maybe a wedding or a proposal.

Whatever the case, as a piano teacher, it is an absolutely different approach to teaching when adults are on the chair next to you. Sometimes there is a stiffness that makes these type of classes into quite a venture.

If you are or will be taking on some adult pupils – fear not. We have made this nine step, how to list just for you and are sure that it will make teaching piano to adults into a fun day’s work.

9 Helpful Steps for Teaching Piano to Adults

What Will You be Needing?

Let us start off with the obvious – you will need an adult piano student. Secondly, you will be needing some additional time for planing.

The classes you will be giving to adults will have a different schedule then the ones that you would give to kids. This is because with kids you usually start from the ground up and for adults this might not be the case.

Thirdly, you will be needing access to a computer. All in all, the perquisites for this undertaking are the things you probably had in mind and have at hand. So, without further ado, let us jump right in!

Step 1. Find Out what the Motivation for Learning the Piano for Your Adult Pupil Is

The crucial thing when planing classes for an adult is to really get a sense of why they are asking for classes in the first place.

They are not children that maybe are there because of their parents encouraging them. These people have a profound need to achieve something and they sought you out.

Their specific needs will and should influence the type of plan and program you will be laying out.

Therefore, we strongly suggest that, before even getting to the first class, you organize a coffee meet up with your prosperous student.

When you do, make a list of questions to ask them. This article has some great ideas for what those questions might be.

Find Out what the Motivation for Learning the Piano for Your Adult Pupil Is

The general guideline should be to see if they wish to work on learning just on how to play some particular songs or do they have their mind set on truly learning how to master this instrument.

Also, ask about any previous musical experience – so you can clearly define what you need to cover with them.

Step 2. Get to Know the Musical Tasteof Your Students

On the same occasion as for the previous point, set aside a time to talk about musical interests in general. Ask your future pupil what type or genre of music do they like.

Start off with pop and contemporary music genres. Then, use this occasion to talk abut any classical musical preferences they may or may not have.

Also, talk about what music inspires you and try to find a common (play)ground for the two of you. This could be rather helpful down the line, especially when you start to cover tracks.

music genres

Step 3. Clearly Define a Time and Space for Classes

One you have covered the first two steps and have the groundwork for your planing to come, it is crucial to do one more thing. When dealing with adult pupils, it is important to lay the ground work for when and where would the classes be taking place.

Adults, unlike kids, sometimes have unpredictable schedules and they can shift rapidly. Therefore, communicate and make a clear understanding on where and when can you give classes. You can be flexible or, if you choose not to be, don’t.

Whatever the case, making this clear from before the start can surely save you some possible issues down the line.

time and place

Step 4. Get to Planing

Now that you know what are the time frames, needs and expectations of your adult piano pupil, it is time to plan. It is good to do a three months plan and see two months in where you stand.

Depending of the dynamics of the classes, you should also think about the need to cover music theory in the amount you deem appropriate.

Keep in mind to include technical work, creative and exploration exercises and to think about repertoire as well. Here is an idea for what your weekly plan could be planed out.

Also, it is ok to give more space out front – maybe do not go into every detail. Think about it as doing a sketch and working on development of the plan while with the student. It is always good to have some flexibility within a clear frame.


Step 5. First Class: Mini Concert for Two Hands

Now that you are finally giving the first class, we are sure you will get to explaining all the needed basics of piano engineering and the keyboard essentials. Maybe you will even get to talk about scales as well.

However, for the ending of the first class, and before some more deepened piano instructions, there is a super fun thing you can do. Why not inspire your pupil by how much can be done?

We propose that you prepare (without sheets – as they probably do not read them yet) a two hand mini song you can play with them . You play the right while your pupil plays the left hand.

There are some great ideas for what song can this be online. We propose ”Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – it is a classic that everyone pretty much knows and is really not hard. This will surely motivate your student for everything that is to come.

Keep in mind not to go into hand positioning if the positioning is not right – let it slide or just give maybe some basic instructions this first time. Also, your student will, by watching you, pick up on some positioning intuitively.

Related: How To Play Piano With Both Hands

Step 6. Dealing with Sheet Music

So let us assume you have a student with a mind set on really understanding the piano rather that playing just one or two songs.

Therefore, you are probably dreading the idea of explaining the theory of sheet music. No wonder – reading and writing sheet music is pretty much like being able to read and write in a foreign language.

Well, as always, we are here to assure you that it can be done. With adult students, rather than having separate theory lessons, it is the wisest to do it bit by bit.

Setting aside a mini slot at the begging of every class, while they are fresh, is a god idea. Start off with the basics and build up.

Use this guide for gradation of the approach. Remember – have patience, and motivate your student. They are truly learning a new motor and sensory skill that by now comes natural to you.

dealing with music

Step 7. Thinking about Repertoire

When it comes to repertoire, it can be a perplexing thing to plan it out for adults. Adults, unlike children, have an already established musical preference. Therefore, somethings will be harder to make an adult play than others.

A great way to gap this distance is to subsume your plan in the ideas of you student. Ask them what would a repertoire of their choice be. Think about genres and also consider realistic possibility of performing a certain piece.

A good thing to to regarding this issue is to also play a few (classical) pieces you yourself think would be great to teach them and ask for their opinion about learning it. Here is a list of great classical pieces they will probably already know that are really light to learn.

Step 8. Rehearsing Social Media Challenge

One of the biggest bores when it comes to learning how to play the piano is the rehearsing of music. This, unfortunately, goes both for kid and for adult students.

We are sure you will be covering the basis of great rehearsing approaches (not starting from the top all the time, focusing on hard parts, finger positioning etc.).

In order to make this activity more interesting, we suggest you support your pupil to post on social media. Challenge them to post a photo or video every time they practice.

If they are shy to do so– ask them to send the material directly to you. This will give them a sense of motivation, especially if they are into the social media scene.

rehearsing social media

Step 9. Performing Out of the Comfort Zone

At a point when your adult pupil does have a repertoire they are good at, you should make a fun switch. If their primary motivation is to conquer the piano, they surely have in them the need to perform. They probably might be shy do state it but it is almost certainly try.

Therefore, we propose you organize a mini concert four your now progressed piano novice. Ask them what they think about this idea and encourage them as they most certainly have doubts.

Think about a fun time and place to do so. Suggest to limit the auditorium to the preferences of your new pianist, as a big an new audience might scare them.

To give the experience a sweet ending, after the concert give them flowers like they are professionals. This will surely win them over!

Performing Out of the Comfort Zone

Added Bonus Tip: Keep Things Professional

One of the things we needed to take a moment to rationally and truly consider is that you will be giving classes to an adult. You yourself are an adult. Therefore, a different type of dynamics, a more friendly one, is to form between you and the pupil.

This dynamic is natural, especially in contrast to giving classes to children where you are the adult in the room. If the classes last longer, that means that you and your adult pupil can work together.

This type of professional match is great. Still, a sometimes overseen tip and suggestion we needed to make clear is to always keep in mind that this is, foremost, a professional relationship.

It is amazing if you click with your student. That will make tutoring into a great time and will add value to both your sides of the keyboard. However, never forget to consciously make a clear professional bit of a distance.

keep things professional


To sum up – teaching piano to adults can be a rewarding and really fun process. It differs from teaching this skill to your child students.

However, if you look into the tips and steps we gave you, you will find a great solution for every adult student.

Regardless of their individual needs, with patience on your side and motivation and persistence on theirs, you are down for a great teaching experience. We hope you enjoyed this list.

Please comment for any great approaches that we might have missed out on mentioning. Also, share this article to fellow teachers in need of some great planing ideas for adult piano students.

Finally, remember – don’t forget to enjoy and have fun while giving your classes because that positive energy does make a difference!

William Cramer, the founder of Fire Inside Music, started to learn music in 2012 with a piano. He has continued to level-up his playing skills and wanted to share his journey and knowledge with other beginners. He launched Fire Inside Music in 2017 to make playing music more approachable for everyone looking to master a musical instrument.