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 concert stages around the world, then the 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, playing for the fun of it. What is the ideal age to start learning an instrument?

The answer is simple. Your age.

Here’s Martin Buzacott’s guide to why you should start using a musical instrument right now, no matter what your age, with a little extra wisdom from ABC Classic listeners.

1. It’s fun

First the bad news. You are unlikely to make it to Carnegie Hall. Now for the good news. It takes the pressure off right away. So let’s be clear on why you pick up an instrument, you do it 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. lynn
  • “I am 78 years old and I am relearning the piano. My teacher is my 84 year old sister! We both appreciate it very much! Carmel
  • “I played the piano when I was a kid, but I’m now learning Gamelan! I played in a band at two shows and I am. I love that. “sue
  • “I turned 80 in January and started clarinet 5 years ago. At the moment, I am playing in 6th year and I am working on the Saint-Saëns Sonata for clarinet and piano. I have a great teacher and the lessons are a lot of fun. Neville
  • “Pre-retired at 57, I finally have time for two very long-standing end-of-year resolutions: to learn the piano and the bagpipe. Progress is slow but very pleasant. Jeanne

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 classmates that you put isolation in the trash of history.

  • “Friends of mine and I started learning violin and cello in our sixties and sixties. We like to play 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 age 92 – and he still plays in a string quartet! Anonymous

Why play the piano?

Learning to play the piano offers benefits throughout life and into old age. To demonstrate this, cognitive scientist Dr. Jennifer MacRitchie challenged the limits of the working memory and keyboard dexterity of virtuoso pianist Simon Tedeschi.

3. It’s good for your brain

They say use it or lose it, and nothing exercises your brainpower like learning to coordinate your brain and body while playing music.

  • “At 78, I have been learning African and Middle Eastern percussion for over 10 years. It gives me rhythm, exercise for my hands and fingers, not to mention pleasure. These aren’t your classic instruments, but damn it, what brain training! »Wilma
  • “I started piano lessons last year, right after my 70th birthday and it has become a mixture of fun and frustration as I try to get my fingers and brain working again. Having said that, I love it and spend time on the piano when I should be doing other things. Alison
  • “I started playing the violin at 68 years old. I still have no musical instincts and sound awful, but it’s just too good for my hands and brain to stop! Richard
  • “I have always been passionate about music, but I have never been taught. So when the nest emptied I joined a local choir, and now, seven years later and retired, I have to say that’s the most wonderful thing – it stimulates the brain, goes back the heart and “makes life better”. NS
  • “If you weren’t taught to read music when you were a kid, then it’s more difficult as a senior, but I have a hard time with a U3A recorder orchestra because my GP says it learning something new is good for my brain. ” Jeanne

4. It’s good for your fingers too

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 problems because you give up the music. If you can get around the stiffness and arthritis, you might find that playing music is the best thing you can do to keep those fingers moving, or maybe even get them moving again.

  • “I am 78 years old and I am learning to play classical guitar and ukulele after a long time without music. I really want to find out that my arthritic fingers are still working. “Pam
  • “I’m 75 now and started playing cello two years ago. It is a good instrument for aging hands. rock
  • ” Yeah ! I took the violin! I am 71 years old and my teacher is 14 years old. I am so happy, even though I have a physical disability with my left shoulder. I received an honor during my AMEB preliminary exam and it was a huge encouragement. After decades of absence, I am returning to music. “- Anonymous

5. It’s an anti-stress

Have you ever noticed that the stress of modern life never seems to go away with age? But when you play music, you are in the moment and the outside world has to wait their turn to get your attention. Music dispels anxiety and gives you the time you have waited and won all your life.

  • “I’m 62 and started singing seriously seven years ago. I am now doing AMEB 7th Grade Voice and 5th Grade Musicianship. I am considering enrolling for a degree at the Sydney Conservatorium in a few years if I get there. Music is such an important part of my life, both as a hobby and as a stress reliever. John
  • “I just got into the viola after nine months in the Borneo jungle. I forgot how much learning music and practicing my viola is good for my mental health. It’s also so 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 realize in your sixties that you actually have a beautiful singing voice? Learning to play an instrument later in life is not just a musical journey. More so, 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 when I was a kid, but I gave up. I only started playing again as an older adult. I’m 70 now and over the past few years I’ve been writing enthusiastically – over 200 tracks now – and I’m working on releasing my first CD within a year or two. Harvey
  • “In 2006, I took two of my grandchildren to a free outdoor Taikoz show with the idea of ​​encouraging them to join one of Taikoz’s classes. Instead, I got hooked myself at the age of 65! I continued as a taiko student until the cancer weakened me so much that I could no longer use the bachi (drumsticks). It was the saddest day of my life but I still attend all of their concerts. Geoff
  • “I have wanted to learn piano all my life and finally decided to take up the challenge after two near-death experiences when I was in my 60s. I was desperate, but… while doing this, I discovered that I could sing! Not folk stuff, but Schubert and Brahms. It changed my life. I have become a music participant, not just a listener. Steve

Martin Buzacott presents Mornings on ABC Classic (Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.)

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