When people learn that I am a piano teacher, the number one thing I always hear is, “Oh I wish I had learned to play the piano when I was young.” My response is always the same, “Well, it isn’t too late! Why not do it now?”
Adults commonly assume that music is something one must learn as a child and grow up with the knowledge. Perhaps this is due to lack of time or budgeting money for family needs. However, what I’d like to address here is the misconception that as adults, we’ve missed the prime time to learn such a valuable and beautiful life skill. When I say it’s never too late, I really mean it’s NEVER too late to learn music. (Or even to restart piano lessons for those of you who quit their lessons early on and regret it.) I’d like to share some reasons why I believe this so strongly, and possibly impart some tips for the adult student.
One of the reasons I believe adult beginners can have great success is because we have all faced failure and been forced to deal with it. Now, we may not have dealt with it perfectly, but experience makes us wiser. It helps us to understand that it is OKAY to fail and gives us insight in how to succeed. We are more apt to keep at it because we have this fundamental skill under our belt, unlike a small child.
Think about the reasons you would encourage your child to take music lessons. Most parents I talk to aren’t looking for their children to be concert pianists or famous composers. They are looking for an extracurricular activity that has value. They want their children to develop a skill that encourages self-worth, discipline, a chance to express themselves when the words just won’t come, and sometimes just to stimulate them intellectually. These are all great reasons to have your child get involved in music. Why can’t they apply to you, as well? And hey, it wouldn’t hurt to know what’s going on in your child’s lessons! It could be something fun for you to do together.
Set realistic goals for yourself. Many mature students want that instant gratification of learning one of the classics right away, and they are disappointed to see how basic they have to start out. When we were children, we didn’t think twice about having such simplified material that allowed us to gradually grasp concepts. (Aren’t we all glad that we didn’t have to learn Algebra in first grade?) It is a humbling experience, yes, but one that will ultimately help you to grow.
Above all, remember the three P’s: Persistence, Patience, and Practice. Learning to read and play music is literally like learning a new language. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it definitely requires considerable effort. But like learning a new language, it opens up so many doors for you which aren’t available to everybody. It is a skill you will treasure for the rest of your life. Make the most of it!
-Hannah Stewart (Bravo Employee)