I think it’s totally possible to play the piano without knowing how to read the notes. In fact, if we’d have trained our ear so much on being able to recreate at the piano whatever sound we hear outside or inside our mind, then for sure we wouldn’t need to read notes. If our brain would be so at ease to memorize music, you’d not need to know even one note in the music staff.
Obviously, most of the beginners have no perfect pitch and their memory skills are not sufficient enough to accomplish this result. In fact, for most of the people, having a good ear and a good memory requires a lot of years of practice before reaching high levels.
Therefore, being able to read (and write) notes on the music staff, is a simple solution to those two problems. Learning how to read the violin and the bass clef actually doesn’t require so many weeks of practice. I developed a good method for improving your reading skills if you decide to study piano in Studio MusicalMente!
Being able to play a song from a score rather than a recording without notes is way easier!
With the new technologies we have nowadays, there’re plenty of videos in YouTube in which, without being able to read notes and without having a super ear, you’re still able to learn how to play a song. The problem, in this case, it’s that you’re just learning which notes to play. To know which notes to play in a song is just a little part of the music. What about the dynamics? What about the articulations? What about the form and how to make it more musical? You’ll probably feel that, after having learnt the tune on those videos, still it doesn’t sound that musical, that emotional, as a real pro would have played! Why? Because you’re just concentrating on one small part of what the music really is! Therefore it’s better to have directly in person that teacher of those videos playing with you at the piano and showing also these aspects!
Is it possible to learn playing the piano without notes? YES, it’s possible, but be aware of the shortcuts and in which problems you can incur.