A lot of people get put off from learning the piano because they think they have to spend hours revising music theory – but this isn’t true. You don’t have to learn that much in order to play and enjoy the piano.
It is however extremely important that you do learn at least a little music theory, otherwise you will not be able to progress after a certain time, and you will struggle to learn anything new. I’ve spoken with a lot of people in the past that aren’t interested in learning to read music, or look at music theory; but this is just a fast track to quitting.
There are only a very select few out there that can get away with ignoring theory, and that’s because they have an exceptional talent and ear for music. But even those people can be limited to an extent with what they can learn and play. If you’ve ever watched a professional pianist play you will notice how easy their fingers seem to move, and how easy they find it to improvise or learn a song. The reason for this is that they’ve studied theory, so they know what to play. Again, you can do this by ear, but it’s much easier if you understand key signatures and chord progressions.
If you are looking to learn everything about the piano, and you are happy to get into music theory, then that’s great. Just try not to spend too much time on it otherwise you may go crazy! I used to loathe music theory to begin with, but now that I look back I realise how important it was. And it’s all about getting the balance right between everything you are studying. Try to play your songs and pieces for the majority of your practice, and leave the scales and theory for about 10-30% of the time. Some may argue that you need much more time, but I think this is more than enough for most people. Again, if you are really serious about the piano and want to practice for hours, then studying theory is the best way forward.
If however you are not interested at all in music theory, then my advice would be to just do a little at a time. As long as you cover the basics to begin with, you will soon realise how important it is. For example, make sure you cover the basics on note values, time signatures, key signatures, expression etc. And again, you don’t need to know every single key or every single expression mark.
I usually find that the people who are happy to cover music theory are the ones that are still playing the piano in years to come. Those that don’t want to learn to read music or study music theory tend to give up. This doesn’t apply to everyone, but for the vast majority it will.
If you want to have piano lessons, then you will struggle to come across a piano tutor that will teach you how to play just by pointing at your fingers. I certainly won’t, as it’s extremely difficult. Can you imagine trying to point at the keys to tell someone which notes to play every week? It would be impossible to progress. But if you learn to read music and follow theory to a basic level, then you can follow the music and play much better.