Are you in your mid 20's or older, and want to learn a musical instrument, but are intimidated because you are "starting late?" Learning a musical instrument later in life might seem too difficult or even impossible, but this is not so. Did you know that Leonard Cohen didn't release his massively successful song, "Hallelujah" until he was 50 years old? Breathe easy, because I'm here to tell you that anyone can pick up a new instrument at any age.
While there may be advantages to learning an instrument at a younger age as opposed to learning at an older age, we should keep in mind that WHAT we‘ve been practicing is more important than WHEN we started practicing. We need to practice the right stuff! Anyone can play the same thing for 10 years, making little progress, while someone else can achieve a higher level of skill in the same amount of time by following a well-organized learning plan.
How do we know what to practice? How do we know what stuff is the right stuff? It depends on our own personal music goals and what styles we want to play. If we want to play rock music, we should practice rock music. If we want to play jazz, we should practice jazz. This applies to all different musical genres. Once we know what style(s) we want to play, we should set a few specific goals that align with improving our playing of said style(s). Once we know where we want to go musically and we’ve set our goals, it’s time to begin!
Our goals are set. Now what? How do we know which exercises and songs we should take on first? This is where a teacher comes in! It is every music teacher’s job to not only make the student’s learning journey enjoyable, but manageable with a clear path leading forward. It’s up to us teachers to guide the way for our students, assigning lesson plans that make sense for their individual needs and musical goals. Private lessons remove any guess work on the part of the student, so they always know where the next step lies. With a helpfully obvious path set before the student, the only work they’ve left to do… is practice!
Here are the important things to remember:
- What we practice is more important than how long we’ve been practicing.
- Setting musical goals helps us decide what we should play next.
- If we still don’t know where to begin after setting our musical goals, private lessons with a good teacher are a sure fire way to start playing the RIGHT STUFF and seeing PROGRESS!