Adult Beginners: Setting Yourself Up For Success

People may say it all the time, but you truly are never too old to start learning an instrument. Like any skill, learning to play an instrument as an adult is a process with no immediate pay-off. However, it’s one well worth the time and effort. Whether you played as a child and want to start up again or are starting from scratch, here is some practical advice to help set adult beginners up for success.

Finding an Instrument

No matter which one you choose to learn, starting with the right instrument is key. Regardless of whether you decide to rent or buy, you want to make sure that you’re getting an instrument that’s in good condition. Work within your budget, but don’t fall prey to getting the cheapest instrument you can find. Cheap instruments are usually made incorrectly and with poor quality materials. They are difficult to play, which will hinder your progress and enjoyment — and playing an instrument should be fun! Johnson String Instrument can help with instrument rentals or purchasing an outfit.

Enlisting Help

There are ways to teach yourself, but we highly recommend finding a teacher. Learning an instrument is a specialized skill, and doing so alone can be frustrating. Using a teacher can help speed up your progress and reinforce good habits. They can be your cheerleader, mentor, and someone to hold you accountable. They are also a great resource for general questions and opportunities for playing in small groups with other students at your level.

The Mental Game

It’s easy for adult beginners to fall into the mental trap of embarrassment or self-doubt. Remember: you ARE a beginner, and that’s okay! Everyone starts somewhere. Make sure you practice daily — yes, daily — to build up muscle memory and reinforce the skills you are learning. Also keep in mind that simple scales or practice pieces are not bad. You don’t learn to drive by being put on a highway your first day, and you don’t learn to play a concerto right away either. There are many other foundational skills that must come before that.

If you’re coming back to playing after a lengthy hiatus, be patient with yourself. You have a memory of what things felt and sounded like when you were actively playing, and that won’t be what you immediately hear or feel. Going back to basics is difficult but rewarding, so keep at it.

Final Tips for Adult Beginners

  • Go practice! Lunch breaks can be a great opportunity depending on where you work.
  • Play with people. Find other musicians, groups, or organizations to play with. You can also consider making your next vacation a musical retreat or program; they’re not just for kids!
  • Need inspiration? Check out this wonderful article about a senior who picked up the cello again.
  • Most importantly, HAVE FUN! Make it joyful work. You’ll be rewarded in the end.

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Silvija Kristapsons

Silvija is a violist and works in the marketing department at Johnson String Instrument.