Generally speaking, people associate lessons in playing an instrument with childhood. If you don’t play an instrument by the time you’re an adult, chances are that you won’t ever pick one up. But this isn’t anything to do with ability. It’s to do with preconceptions we have. So many adults are interested in music but never pick anything up because they assume they won’t be capable! Believe it or not, you really can pick up an instrument as an adult. While learning to play an instrument as an adult may a little more difficult than learning as a child, it is by no means impossible. So, let’s take a moment to clear up some common myths that revolve around playing an instrument as an adult, the benefits that learning an instrument can have for you, and a couple of different instruments that might appeal to you!
Banishing Music Myths
There are so many myths concerning adult education in music floating around, so let’s start off by banishing them. This should help your concerns to fritter away and allow you to move forward on your musical journey.
Your Cognitive Connections are Already Set
The most common myth that comes hand in hand with music lessons is that adults’ cognitive connections are already set. This is false. It may well be true that cognitive pathways can forge more easily during childhood. Children grow new brain cells and some may be dedicated to playing an instrument. Adults have to work with what they already have. But it is possible for adults to create new synapses or connections between these cells.
If You Haven’t Learnt by Now, You Lack the Dedication to Play
This myth is actually pretty harsh in that it fails to take personal circumstances into account. Not everyone is able to take music lessons as a child. They tend to be expensive, and you may not have had the means to fund learning. In fact, adults actively opting to take music lessons tend to be a whole lot more dedicated than children who are being forced to attend. After all, they are pursuing this hobby through personal choice.
You Won’t Have Sufficient Time
Now, this is perhaps one of the myths that are most rooted in truth. Learning an instrument is time-consuming, and if you already have a busy schedule, chances are that you might struggle to find the time to dedicate to your music project. But at the end of the day, this will be down to personal choice rather than literally not having time. If you really want to learn an instrument, you will have to re-organise your schedule, perhaps removing other activities from your regime and replacing them with your instrument lessons.
The Benefits of Learning to Play an Instrument
People tend to want to learn an instrument because they’ve listened to a brilliant piece of music and want to recreate something similar. They want to be able to play the songs that they adore. They might even want to try their hand at writing music themselves, and this is a whole lot easier if you know how to play the instruments that will bring your songs to life. But besides meeting personal ambitions, instruments have a whole lot of benefits. In fact, it has been found that playing an instrument can significantly improve your quality of life in regards to happiness and wellbeing. So, let’s take a look at just a few of the pros that you can experience when picking up an instrument.
Music stimulates all sorts of areas of your brain, including your memory. The skills required when learning an instrument force a high-working memory load on you. Remembering how different notes sound, where to place your hands on the instrument to create those notes, and what order to play the notes in to recreate a particular song really does encourage you to remember more. What’s more? It encourages you to recall these details quickly. After all, you can’t spend moments between each note trying to recall what comes next if you want the song to sound right.
Fine-Tuned Hand-Eye Coordination
When you think about it, playing an instrument requires high levels of hand-eye coordination. As you’re reading the music from the sheet, you have to translate the written notes into hand movements that will make the instrument play each given note. Your brain converts notes into motor patterns, and with wind instruments, you also have to incorporate breathing patterns too!
Better Mathematical Skills
Music requires rhythm, so you have to learn to count notes and beats. Various studies have revealed that people who play instruments also tend to achieve higher grades in mathematical tests and activities.
You Learn Cultural History
Most music teachers will start you off with classic pieces of music. They will often endow you with details regarding the composer or individual musician including the relevance of the piece of music to its era and how it affected later musicians and pieces of music.
Musicians are essentially performers. As you begin to master your instrument, people are bound to want to hear your progress. So it’s not all too surprising that many musicians claim that playing has helped to boost their confidence. Though even some of the most famous artists are hit with a little stage fright, being behind an instrument can often help to combat this.
Instruments to Consider
There are so many different types of musical instruments out there that there aren’t any official figures detailing exactly how many exist. General estimates average around 1500 though. So, the world really is your oyster when it comes to choosing one. Instruments fall into one of six categories – brass, percussion, woodwind, strings, keyboards, and orchestra. Here are a few of the most commonly played instruments that you might like to consider. While it may be interesting to play a lesser-known instrument, lessons in better-known instruments will be more widely available. There will also be plenty of online tutorials on these instruments that you can learn from, and the instruments themselves will be easier to get your hands on at a lower price.
The piano is first on our list. This instrument belongs to the keyboard family and surveys have estimated that around one in every four people is capable of playing. Generally speaking, this isn’t the cheapest instrument to learn. Pianos themselves are relatively expensive, and it’s good to have one of your own at home to get sufficient practice. You will also benefit from specialist extras, such as a piano lamp. Take a look at How a pianist chooses the piano lamp she dreamed for her once in a lifetime performance. Lessons also tend to be on the financially steep side. However, it is an extremely impressive skill. You will be asked to run your fingers along the keys every time there’s a piano about! If you do take to it well, you can also make a lot of money out of playing. Bars, hotels, and various other institutions tend to hire a resident pianist to create background noise or perform for customers and guests. Similarly, you could also pick up work at private functions!
Playing the guitar is a whole lot more accessible than playing the piano. There are so many low-cost guitars on the market. Around 50 million people play the guitar worldwide, and those who are invested are constantly upgrading their instruments, so you can also pick up second-hand guitars for a good price! Lessons are easy to come by, and there are also plenty of tutorials online. This is also the perfect instrument for if you want to incorporate your instrument into your social life, as almost every band going has a guitarist of sorts. Now, when it comes to guitars, you have two main options – acoustic and electric. Each has a completely different sound. While many people think that you should pick up acoustic first and then “upgrade” to electric, this isn’t based on any particular evidence of this being a better way to go about doing things. Acoustic and electric guitars play in a similar way, but neither is necessarily more complex or difficult than the other. So start with whichever you please!
For now, we’ll finish up with the drums. These could be considered a more social instruments, as people rarely play the drums alone. Instead, drummers tend to form the backbone of bands. They keep the beat that the rest of the music can then be arranged around and help to punctuate songs, building up an atmosphere and directing changes in tempo and rhythm. Ideally, you’ll have room in your home to accommodate a drum kit if this is the musical direction you intend to take. They’re a more space consuming instrument that you will have to practice regularly to improve at.
As you can see, there’s an awful lot to consider and think about when you decide to sign up to take instrumental lessons. But the rewards are more than worth the effort. Not only will you master an instrument, but you can learn a whole lot as you progress too! So, choose an instrument and get started sooner rather than later.