Can an Adult Learn to Play Music?

How often, now that childhood is but a memory, have you wished that you had learned to play a musical instrument? Maybe you wanted to learn to play the trumpet or the piano. Perhaps you were in love with the sound of a violin (whether played in an orchestra or as a fiddle by a Bluegrass or Mariachi group), or you dreamed of playing a saxophone. But those things just weren’t “cool,” so you caved in to peer pressure and learned to strum a few chords on the guitar. You and three of your friends sat in the garage and talked about attracting girls when you became rock stars. Or you idolized Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, reminding yourself that girls can do anything that boys can do. But you secretly longed to play in the band at football games, join the Mariachis as they serenaded the birthday girl in the early morning hours, or joined the vocalists in a performance of Handel’s Messiah. And as time passed, even the guitar you used to strum was relegated to the corner of the bedroom closet.

Now you are older, and the dream of learning to play music has never really gone away. You’ve never acted on achieving that desire, but visions of you and that instruments still inhabit your dreams. But you have finally come to understand and accept the idea that instrumental music is just a dream that you’ll have to set aside, right?

Absolutely not! It is never too late to learn to play an instrument! If you start as an adult you’ll probably never become an internationally known soloist, but you can certainly learn well enough to play for personal pleasure and as a member of most amateur groups. You may even be able to play professionally!

Reasonable Expectations

It’s not going to be easy, but it’s probably easier than you fear. You have an advantage many children don’t have. You actually want to learn the instrument! Many children take music lessons because their parents want them to. You are self-motivated. Expect to make progress slowly, but be assured that you can… and will… progress.

Step By Step is the Way to Go

As I’ve said, short of a miracle you won’t achieve immediate success, but you can achieve short term goals. Regular practice for reasonable amounts of time is necessary. Lessons from a professional, or a serious amateur, may be required. Perhaps you can learn using videos. A well thought out plan with regularly spaced lessons and rehearsals, as well as progressively more challenging goals will certainly help you reach the goal of playing the instrument.

Don’t Just Play Alone!

Join a group or find people with whom you can play! If you can find a group of people who are essentially your musical equals you’ll almost undoubtedly find support and learn practice and performance tips that will help your playing improve even faster and you would never have realized or implemented if you had only play alone at home.

Stay Inspired – Listen With the Right Attitude!

You got inspired listening to masters play the instrument. You developed your desire to play when you heard songs you enjoyed. Keep listening to that music. Hearing the songs you love will help you stay excited! But use the recordings or the concerts as inspiration. Understand that you are progressing toward that skill level. Don’t expect to become as good as saxophonist Kenny G, or violinist Hilary Hahn, or organist Cameron Carpenter in a week! (Or for that matter a month or a year!)

Have Fun

Remember, you are doing something your want to do, not something you have to do. Remember, when it comes to music you play your instrument. You don’t work, suffer, gripe, fight, struggle, or complain the instrument. How do you have fun? Find music you want to play. Don’t pick music that is beyond your ability. Play up to the level of your ability… and just a little beyond every now and then. Playing what you are able to play well is fun, and you’ll be thrilled when you achieve something you weren’t sure you could handle. And if you play in public you’ll almost undoubtedly receive the admiration you hoped for when you were fourteen!