Advancement speeds; teachers

Added on by Greg Anderson.
Hi Greg,
I have been taken piano lessons for over 6 years now. I started taking lessons when I was 43 years old. I usually spend at least an hour per day practicing, but I'm not happy with the outcomes. I can play Fur Elise, some of Bach's pieces, and Chopin. But, each piece took me so long time, like two-three months, to master. Is it normal for my level? Secondly, my goal is to play pop music but I have been trained with classical music teacher. Should switch teacher to pop music teacher now? Thirdly, when can I stop taking lessons then practice on my own?
 - Vince

Dear Vince,

Playing the piano is hard! It takes unlimited perseverance to master *any* piece of music; "unlimited" because you'll never really master it -- you can always improve! Even concert pianists look for outside advice and seek the counsel of teachers. I wouldn't worry -- two or three months is not unreasonable at all for the pieces you mentioned, especially considering that you've been playing for only six years.

If you'd like to play some pop music, then you should! I assume you are playing the piano for your own, personal enjoyment; if so, then you should occasionally be able to play what you want! I agree that classical music training is important, but perhaps you could spend some time every day working on a song you like. Or, you could sight read a new tune each day. The more you improve your sight reading, the faster you'll learn the notes to new pieces (though it will still take a while to "master" the music), and the less frustrated you will be during your practice sessions.

- Greg (May 10, 2009)