When I tell people I play the piano, the most common reply I hear is "Oh I've always wanted to play but..." Here's are the top-ten reasons that adults give for not becoming a musician- even though its their secret ambition. Read on for how to overcome these barriers and achieve your dream.
"I'm just too busy"
Most people assume that you will need hours of free time every week set aside for lengthy practicing to get any good. This idea is a complete fiction- in fact I would say about 5 minutes each day is fine at first (and if you don't have 5 minutes per day to spare, I don't believe you!). If you book lessons with a teacher, you will be committing some time at least each week to concentrate on learning, which may even be enough at first.. Don't kid yourself you'll be less busy in three months time because if you don't start learning now you probably never will.
"I work shifts/ long hours so I can't fit time for lessons in"
Many teachers will offer lessons in the daytime, evenings and weekends- so you should be able to find something that suits you- just call up some local teachers and ask when they have spaces in their schedule. There are also a good number of online courses for most instruments. Or you could buy a 'Teach Yourself Book' and take it from there.
"Lessons are too expensive"
Again, you could start off teaching yourself from a book- but not all lessons are as expensive as you might think. I teach in groups, which keeps the cost down for the individual, and also turns lessons into a social activity. Find out if there are any teachers in your area who do this.
"I'm too old"
Your definitely never too old to learn a musical instrument! In fact I've found adults of all ages learn much faster than young children initially. Learning new cognitive skills has even been found to have great health benefits.
"I won't be able to learn"
Well, I've never met anyone incapable of learning to play yet! Obviously people have different standards and 'natural' abilities, they'll learn at different rates. But everyone will be able to play to some degree. The best thing is to ask yourself what you want to achieve... and then just go for it.
"I'll never be any good, so what's the point in starting now"
This depends what you mean by good. OK, I admit if your 57 and never played a note in your life theirs no chance of you becoming a virtuoso after ten lessons. But is that really why you secretly want to learn your chosen instrument? How about learning just for the sheer achievement of acquiring a new skill. Or being able to pick out a few carols at Christmas. Or finally write down and record that song that's been going round in your head your whole life. These are all achievable goals you could reach after learning an instrument for just a short time. And does it even matter if your any 'good' if you really enjoy playing?
"I've been told I'm tone-deaf and so I can't learn"
The short answer to this is, your almost certainly not. Tone deafness is a very rare and specific condition, and music lessons should help improve your listening skills.
"I don't think any teachers will be interested in taking on an older learner"
Most teachers I know (including myself) really enjoy teaching adults because they have made the decision to have lessons themselves and appreciate lessons so much more than children who are learning all the time. Maybe your children are having lessons, why not ask their teacher if they could teach you as well? I'm sure they would be pleased to, or at least recommend another teacher with vacancies.
"I'd love to learn again- but I hated my lessons when I was younger"
A lot of adults have horror stories about severe piano teachers rapping their knuckles with rulers for making mistakes, and punishing them for not practicing 30 minutes a day. Luckily, there aren't many (any?) people like that around anymore. Please don't let a bad experience from the past stop you from achieving what you want today. Find a teacher, let them know what you want to achieve and I'm sure they will be pleased to help. If you don't enjoy their lessons, let them know why- music lessons should be enjoyable, and as an adult you will be the one in control, with your teacher there to help you.
"I've heard learning to read music is really hard..."
Learning to read music is really very straightforward. And some teachers might be happy for you to play by ear. There's a lot of advice on reading music, on the web which can get you started.
I hope none of these excuses are holding you back from becoming a musician! Good luck in learning to play your chosen instrument.
Polly Powell runs a keyboard and piano teaching studio in North Somerset, UK. Visit the website for further information on music lessons [http://www.kweststudios.co.uk]
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