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Two people playing a piano together with their hands on the keys.

Learning how to play a musical instrument is an incredibly fulfilling task, but it can also be an incredibly daunting one, especially if you didn’t grow up playing music. That’s why a lot of us want to have our children study instruments early on.

Sadly, there is a notion that adults can’t learn to play a new instrument. After all, how many of us wish that we’d stuck with our lessons while we were young, or wish that we’d taken them in the first place? And yet, it seldom occurs to us to go ahead and start taking lessons as adults. Plenty of people pick up an instrument later in life. Rock stars Frank Zappa, Jerry Cantrell, and Eric Clapton all started playing guitar when they were adults, and are now ingrained into musical culture, forever. Here are some reasons why it’s never too late to pick up a musical instrument.

Your ears are more developed as an adult

One thing that is helpful, when it comes to learning to play an instrument as an adult, is that you have far more experience actually listening to music than those who are younger. Because of this, your ears are more developed to hear good audio. The importance of this can’t be understated, as learning how to listen to music and recognize certain attributes of good audio is something that all music teachers spend a significant amount of time on. If you’d like to get better, here is an article with some tips on how to train your ear for good audio.

Learning music will help in other skills

Learning how to play a musical instrument isn’t just something that’s possible, as an adult, it is something that should be actively sought out. Problem solving how to play an instrument requires stretching parts of your mind that you probably aren’t used to using, and it can help improve other skills. For example, learning to play music actually improves your memory, and can help delay diseases like dementia. Here’s a great article about other great reasons there are to study music.

A person sitting on the ground playing an instrument

People who learn instruments later actually want to

One major difference between an adult that is learning to play a musical instrument and a child who is learning to play a musical instrument is that the adult is never being forced to do so by their parents (at least we hope not). Being passionate about learning something is the first key to learning to do it well. Children who are being forced to learn an instrument might learn some of the technical abilities, but it will only take them so far. Adults, on the other hand, are only learning because they really want to, and they are dedicating their free time to doing so.

You know your musical taste

The type of music that you want to play can make a big difference on the steps you take to learn how to play an instrument. One advantage that adults have, when learning to play an instrument, is that they already know what their musical taste is. This makes it a lot easier to get passionate about learning how to play.

A man playing an acoustic guitar in his living room.

Learning an instrument requires making new brain pathways

The reason that it’s easier for kids to pick up a musical instrument is that their brains are still developing, and the new pathways that are being created in their brain get devoted to the skills and things they are learning. As an adult, your brain is already developed, which means it is going to take more time to get those same pathways to recognize the muscle memory and concepts that children are able to pick up at a faster rate. That is your only hindrance to learning a musical instrument as an adult, but it is by no means insurmountable!

Adult lessons are out there

At the end of the day, trying to teach yourself to play a musical instrument is an incredibly difficult task. But you don’t have to do it by yourself. There are plenty of teachers who offer lessons for adults of all skill levels, and who can help you get a grasp on the basics of playing an instrument, so that you can begin to take further steps into your newfound passion. Look for teachers in your area, and ask around to find some of the good ones.

Thanks to Alek for this post.  

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