Thursday, July 25, 2013

Learn Music as an Adult: Tips for the Returning Student

I wish I had a dollar for each adult who has told me “I used to take music lessons. I wish now I’d kept it up!” While it’s true that “Life” often takes over in our young adult years, that doesn’t exclude a person from starting back again once they become more settled. Music is one of the few activities you can pursue all your life. Whether you are a beginner or a side-tracked pro, here are some things to consider when getting back on the bandwagon:

It’s never too late to start. If you’ve never taken lessons at all, beginning as an adult can seem a daunting task. While it is like learning a new language, time, persistence and patience will bring you to your goals. A qualified teacher will help you find music that is beginner level but geared for adults.

 photo Piano_Adult_zps7df98c77.jpgFind a good fit for a teacher. Don’t compare lessons now to your music classes back in high school. You may have had a demanding band director who wanted all the students to be music majors in college. Now you have more options and you know what you want out of music. Maybe you were a music major in college and now have the time to get back on track. Define your goal and find a teacher who is in tune with it. If they’re doing what you hope to do, they’ll be more adept at showing you how to do it.

It’s good for you! When you play an instrument, you are using your ears, eyes, fingers, hands and arms,  If you are a wind player, you are using lips and tongue as well as the respiratory system. Feet and the whole body often come into play also. Playing an instrument requires considerable physical activity.

Do a quick online search for “Music Brain” and see the many articles written about how music strengthens the brain. The neural pathways between the body and the brain become strengthened making other mental tasks easier also. This is especially helpful to an aging brain to help sharpen concentration and alertness.

Accept the challenge. While a child often has little choice about taking lessons, it is easier for an adult to give up when they encounter obstacles. Remember the old adage, “Anything worth having is worth fighting for”? That certainly holds true when studying music. It’s WORK! You are building muscles as well as coordination. Sometimes the progress is slow. Accept this fact and work with your teacher on strategies to help you overcome those obstacles.

Enjoy the accomplishment. The primary use for music is it’s enjoyment! Find an outlet for your growing skills and enjoy the sense of accomplishment that goes with it. Most communities have musical groups that are open to non-professionals. Churches are also a great place to find an outlet. If your goals are more on the professional level, look for groups that are holding auditions, if only for the experience. Or, you can start your own group with other like-minded musicians and look for an appropriate venue. If you have something worth sharing, you’ll build an audience as well as your own sense of confidence.

Fran Beaudry has over 30 years of experience as a clarinet player and music educator. Follow Fran on Twitter or book an online clarinet lesson with her on The ZOEN


  1. Great post! There has never been a better time for adults to start music lessons. Along with tons of new research that shows how playing music helps keep the brain 'elastic', there are even more options for accessing great teachers (like those at Zoen) and great material (like dlp music books!) via the web. Along with enjoying the accomplishment, we like to say 'enjoy the journey' as well. Music learning can be key to keeping adults mentally fit and young at heart!

  2. You are right, one needs to enjoy the feel of accomplishment. This is out in a difficult position due to all the pressure put to us, telling us to be the best in everything. But with music, every little improvement counts, and needs to be celebrated.
    Check this blog post for more tips


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