We hear a lot about the benefits that learning an instrument has on your brain, health and wellbeing, especially for young people with developing minds.
While learning an instrument as a child is a fantastic thing, and something MI Focus believes every school child should be able to experience, the emphasis on the benefits to child can sometimes lead older people to think they’ve “missed the boat”.
Learning and instrument isn’t just about becoming a rockstar, trying to carve out a career in music, or even getting on a stage. Making music is something special that people can decided to share with others, or keep entirely for themselves.
And the really great thing about it is that you can do it at any age, and benefit from the joy it brings no matter what your level of skill is, or how deep your desire to perform on stage is.
Jess Walter, a freelance music and technology writer, and a guitarist who first picked up her instrument in her 40s, describes in her own words how she ended up learning an instrument later in life, and why it is never too late to do so…
Just When You Decide You’re An Old Dog
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks now, can you?
When the last of my brood left for college I suddenly found myself alone for hours on end every day. The daily chores were finished in a matter of minutes and the distraction of my part-time job was not enough to keep me from wondering what I was doing with my life.
Sure, I have a gorgeous family and a doting husband, but I never got to be the cool adult I always thought I would. I’ve never travelled or even learned a musical instrument…
A Little Burst of Culture
My husband and I decided to add a date day to our schedule once a week. One day we headed down to Brighton. We spent the day enjoying the adventures along the pier that is so synonymous with this part of the world, but it was the busking that really stuck out to me.
I remember striking up a conversation with an elderly gentleman who had recently taken up the drums as an instrument. I asked him why he decided to take up a new instrument at his age and he simply said: “Deary, it keeps me swinging”. And with that, he entertained the crowd with a few drum rolls Brian Blade would be proud of.
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. There has never been a time in my life where I had the financial stability and clockwork schedule like I have now. Fitting in music classes will be both affordable and easy to slot in. Furthermore, if I take up an instrument now, it will be because I love music, not because some overbearing parent is pressuring me into it.
Finally, I have 4 decades of listening to music as a portfolio of evidence. I was ready and my poison: the guitar.
A Family Affair
My niece’s husband is a high school teacher and also happens to take the kids for guitar classes after school. I phoned him up, got the schedule and paid my deposit.
It wasn’t necessary for me to have a guitar yet as he had a spare, but the ritual of looking for one of my own was one I just couldn’t resist. I browsed shop after shop and held many guitars over the next few weeks. I just couldn’t seem to find the one that stood out to me.
It was a rainy day and I took my father to the second-hand shop to sell some of his stuff. He was moving into a smaller place because he said the big old house was getting drafty.
As we walked in, we saw them. Side by side. The two box guitars that had father and daughter written all over them.
My father, who played guitar a little as a youngster, looked at the darker of the two and I could see the same longing in his eyes that I experienced in Brighton that day. He joined me at guitar lessons the very next day, and for a 70-year-old, that’s still a young age to learn a new instrument.
Jess Walter is a freelance music and technology writer. She has teamed up with a guitar learning site Guitar Fella to develop articles on learning to play the guitar at an older age. For more information visit http://www.guitarfella.com/how-to-choose-childs-guitar/