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Learning Music as an Adult

Aug 7, 2008
While we have all heard stories of child prodigies and the importance of learning music as a child, an adult can still learn to play an instrument quite well. Even with no prior experience, the right training can help an adult learn to play music just as well as a child. The main thing is to find the right way to learn, whether it's through a tutor or self-study.

Adult learners come with their own baggage, often from childhood lessons. Adult piano students may have had bad experiences with music lessons as a child. These can range from scary instructors to endless exercises or abusive teacher-student relationships. Sometimes a teacher may have punished the student for not being skilled enough, while other times a teacher may have pushed a promising student too hard. This is one of the hurdles that come with learning music as an adult.

Accepting the teacher as an authority figure is another difficulty that comes with learning music as an adult. An adult has learned to be independent. An adult wants to take part in the development of curriculum and wants to be able to self-evaluate. It may be difficult for an adult to simply listen and take instruction from a music instructor. So the best avenue for learning music as an adult may be to self-tutor or to find an instructor who teaches by long distance via the internet. There are many wonderful piano courses available nowdays on the web: just type in something like "play piano" on any search engine, and you'll find several.

Though the process of learning music as an adult is different from a child's, it's not necessarily harder. For a child, making music is magical, while an adult sees the work involved to get to the music making stage. It's mainly a mental hurdle that must be overcome. Also, learning music as a child is part of the natural development process, while learning music as an adult is usually part of a larger goal. For example, an adult learns how to play an instrument to join the church worship team.

Learning music as an adult can also be difficult because of ingrained personality traits. Even the most outwardly confident adults get insecure when someone points out their flaws. So it goes with learning music. If a tutor is used, an adult can get embarrassed when the tutor corrects a mistaken note or technique. Some adults may have difficulty breathing and concentrating when they're highly nervous. All of these can lead to a difficult learning environment.

Adults also demand comfort. This is why adults often learn an instrument in their own home. Children are less demanding about the hardness of a piano bench, for example. Adults may have back problems or other conditions that require a high comfort level.

So the basic ingredients for learning music as an adult are adaptable tutoring, reason for learning, confidence and comfort. By taking these key points and seeking the best method of learning for yourself, you can become an adult musical genius -- well, maybe not a genius -- maybe just a person who has more fun. Or maybe you'll be the guy or gal at parties who knows how to play the latest song everyone is talking about. With the right teaching, grown ups can enjoy playing music wherever they go.
About the Author
Duane Shinn is the author of the popular online newsletter on piano chords, available free at "Exciting Piano Chords & Chord Progressions!"
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