2 Common Responses
When people find out that I teach piano lessons, they usually have a few different responses.
One answer I get is from those who grew up playing the piano as kids. They go on to say that they quit at some point and they usually tell me why.
Interestingly, a majority of this group of people lament over the fact that they hadn’t stuck with it. Now that they are older, they see how a skill like this could bring joy to their lives and others.
The second reply I hear is from adults who say that they always wanted to play the piano but never had the chance. They feel like it is useless to learn now because it is too late in their lives to start.
If you fit into either of these groups, I have good news for you. You are never too old to start playing.
Adults Can Learn
Norman Weinberger, a neuroscientist at the University of California Irvine has done pioneering research on the auditory system and the brain. When asked about adults learning to play the piano, he says that while its harder for the mature brain to learn an instrument, it’s not impossible.
Dr. Weinberger goes on to explain why this reality exists. “Children are growing new brain cells all the time, so when they’re learning music, some of those brain cells are devoted to playing their instrument.
Adults, on the other hand, have to work with the brain cells they already have and create new connections, or synapses, between them.”
In the 20+ years that I’ve been teaching piano, I have taught students of all ages. I agree that adults have to work harder than the kids. But adults have advantages over children in other areas.
The Benefits of Adulthood and Piano Lessons
Adults generally have greater discipline than kids. This usually equals more practice time and more consistency. Adults also have the ability to see the bigger picture when it comes to their progress or lack thereof, unlike many children who are naturally short-sighted. Often when there is no vision there is frustration which often leads to quitting.
No matter what group you fall into, you can learn to play. Here are a few pointers that will help you get the most out of your lessons.
1. Find the right teacher for you.
Throughout the years, I have had a number of different teachers. As I think about each one, I can’t help but remember how different each instructor was. Some were better teachers than others. Each of them also had different goals and different expectations.
It’s important that you as a potential student talk with your teacher about your expectations to see if you are both on the same page. This is a conversation I normally have with anyone who wants to take piano lessons with me.
In my experience, adults often want to learn to play the piano as a hobby. They are not looking for the next piano competition.
Different expectations will immediately create frustration for you and your teacher. Unfortunately, a relationship like this cannot last long.
2. Play a style that you enjoy.
We live in a day and age where there is no shortage of music. Just a glance at a site like iTunes is a powerful reminder that there is a host of artists and styles of music.
The good news is that there is sheet music available for a multitude of songs. While piano lessons used to be built around classical music alone, it’s much easier these days to incorporate other styles.
It’s also more enjoyable to learn how to play the piano when you are playing songs that you love.
3. Find an outlet.
It’s important that you find an avenue to share your gift. This could be something more formal like recitals or informal like a dinner party. Either way, it’s important that you find an outlet. Without one, it is much harder to be disciplined.
An outlet provides a source of accountability. Practically speaking, when you know that you will be playing a piece of music for a group of people on a certain date, you will work much harder to perfect it.
Ready to give it a try?
If you are an adult contemplating piano lessons, I’d love to have a conversation with you. As a piano teacher, I pride myself in customizing my lessons according to the goals of my students. Throughout the years, I have taught lessons to people of all ages and backgrounds and I would love for you to be one of my students.
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