Six reasons to start learning a musical instrument as an adult – Music Reads
What is the right age to start learning a musical instrument?
If your intention is to become a professional performer on the concert stages of the world, then the answer is younger the better.
But let’s ask the question again for the rest of us, the overwhelming majority who won’t end up playing music professionally, but love music and would just love to be in the middle of it, playing for pure fun. . What is the right age to start learning an instrument?
The answer is simple. Your age.
Here’s Martin Buzacott’s guide to why you should start playing a musical instrument now, regardless of your age, with a little more wisdom from the listeners of ABC Classic.
1. It’s fun
First the bad news. You are unlikely to go to Carnegie Hall. Now the good news. It takes the pressure off right away. Let’s be clear why you pick up an instrument, you do because it’s actually fun and the most enjoyable challenge you can imagine.
- “I learned the violin for the first time at 59 years old. My teacher has a great sense of humor and it’s so much fun. I love the experience. Lynne
- “I am 78 years old and I am learning the piano again. My teacher is my 84 year old sister! We both really appreciate it! carmel
- “I played the piano as a kid but am now learning Gamelan! I played in a band at two gigs and I absolutely love it. sue
- “I turned 80 in January and I started playing the clarinet 5 years ago. At the moment, I am playing in 6th grade and working on the Sonata for clarinet and piano by Saint-Saëns. I have an excellent teacher and the classes are very fun. Neville
- “Pre-retired at 57, I finally have time for two very long-standing New Year’s resolutions: to learn the piano and the bagpipes. Progress is slow but very pleasant. Joan
2. It’s social
Let’s face it. Sometimes our later years can be lonely. But not if you are learning an instrument. Meeting a teacher is just the start of your new social life. It’s when you go out and start playing with your peers later that you relegate isolation to the dustbin of history.
- “Friends of mine and I started learning the violin and cello in our 60s and 70s. We love playing together, so we started an annual workshop last year. Now we can play together, have fun and, at the same time, our concert supports local school music programs.” Kaye
- “Our orchestra has members who learned their instruments after retirement. Our oldest member retired last year at 92 – and he still plays in a string quartet! Anonymous
3. It’s good for your brain
They say use it or lose it, and nothing exercises your gray matter like learning to coordinate your brain and body while playing music.
- “At 78 years old, I have been learning African and Middle Eastern drums for more than 10 years. It gives me rhythm, exercise for my hands and fingers, not to mention fun. Not your classic instruments, but boy, what brain training!” Wilma
- “I started piano lessons last year, just after my 70th birthday and it has become a mixture of pleasure and frustration as I try to get my fingers and brain working again. That said, I love it and I spend time at the piano when I should be doing something else. Alison
- “I started the violin at 68. I still have no musical instincts and sound horrible, but it’s too good for my hands and my brain to shut down!” richard
- “I’ve always been passionate about music, but I was never taught. So when the nest emptied I joined a local choir, and now, seven years later and retired, I have to say it’s the most wonderful thing – it stimulates the brain, uplifts the heart, and definitely “makes life better”. Jeans
- “If you didn’t learn to read music as a child it’s harder as an older person, but I struggle with a U3A recorder orchestra because my GP says learning something new is good for my brain.” Joan
4. It’s also good for your fingers
Have you ever heard someone say that they had to give up music because of physical problems? Well, sometimes it can work the other way around and you develop physical issues because you give up on the music. If you can work around the stiffness and arthritis, you may find that playing music is the best thing you can do to keep your fingers moving, or maybe even get them moving again.
- “I’m 78 and learning to play classical guitar and ukulele after a long time without making music. I’m having a real buzz finding out that my arthritic fingers still work.” Pam
- “I’m 75 now and I started playing the cello two years ago. It is a good instrument for aging hands. Rock
- “Yeah! I took up the violin again! I’m 71 and my teacher is 14. I’m so happy, even though I have a physical disability with my left shoulder. I received honors in my exam preliminary AMEB and it was a huge encouragement. After decades of absence, I return to music.” – Anonymous
5. It’s a stress reliever
Have you ever noticed that the stresses of modern life never seem to go away with age? But when you’re playing music, you’re in the moment and the outside world has to wait its turn to get your attention. Music drives away anxiety and delivers the “you” of time you’ve been waiting for and earning all your life.
- “I am 62 years old and I started singing seriously seven years ago. I am now doing AMEB 7th Grade Voice and 5th Grade Musicianship. I am planning to enroll in a degree at the Sydney Conservatorium in a few years if I succeed. Music is such an important part of my life, both as a hobby and as a stress reliever. John
- “I have just taken up the viola after nine months spent in the jungles of Borneo. I had forgotten how great learning music and practicing my viola is for my mental health. It’s also very stimulating to play in a small ensemble! Sat
6. It’s a journey of self-discovery
Want to release your first album of original compositions in your 70s? Or realizing in your 60s that you actually have a beautiful singing voice? Learning to play an instrument later in life isn’t just a musical journey. More than that, it’s a journey of self-discovery, revealing things about yourself that you might never have known before.
- “I learned the piano for a few years as a child but gave up. I only started playing again as an older adult. I am now 70 and in recent years I have have written enthusiastically – over 200 tracks now – and am working on releasing my first CD within the next year or two. Harvey
- “In 2006, I took two of my grandchildren to a free outdoor Taikoz performance with the idea of encouraging them to join one of the Taikoz classes afterwards. Instead, I myself became well and truly addicted at the age of 65! I continued to study taiko until the cancer weakened me so much that I couldn’t use the bachi (drumsticks) anymore. It was the saddest day of my life but I still attend all their concerts. Geoff
- “I’ve wanted to learn the piano all my life and finally decided to take up the challenge after two near-death experiences when I was in my sixties. I was hopeless, but… in doing this I discovered that I could sing! Not folk stuff, but Schubert and Brahms. It changed my life. I became a participant in the music, not just a listener. Steve
Martin Buzacott presents Mornings on ABC Classic (Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.)