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Many folks take adult music lessons because they’re retired and have more time on their hands. That’s a great reason, but you don’t need all the time in the world to invest in something that’s just so good for you.
For your consideration, here are eight great reasons to take adult music lessons.
1. It will make you younger.
Well, not really. But sort of! Research from the University of Texas at Dallas shows “evidence that mentally challenging leisure activities…can restore levels of brain activity to a more youth-like state.”
Learning music is so good for your brain at any age, but for adults it can mean improvements in working memory, resilience to age-related hearing loss, and lower levels of stress and depression. Plus, it’s proven to be more effective than brain-training games.
Kids’ brains may be sponges that make learning new things like languages–including music–a piece of cake. But piano teacher Andrew Lawrence finds adult students better at processing complex concepts, and a New York oboist observes that adults often have a greater capacity for self-diagnosis and problem-solving.
Take that, kiddos.
2. Playing music is fun!
If it ever stops being fun, you can stop taking lessons. And you won’t get grounded.
3. You can play what you want, when you want.
Saxophone, banjo, keytar– the possibilities are endless!
Our lives are restricted by circumstances, but one of the great joys of being an adult is having the freedom to make our own decisions. There’s no band teacher forcing you to play clarinet because the saxophone spots are full. There’s no family pressure to play french horn like cousin Becky.Your goals are yours and yours alone. Would you like to learn basic technique? Play your favorite song? Study a classical or jazz approach?
As a child, Jay Dembsky lost interest in the piano lessons his mother required. Now as a piano student in his fifties, he plays The Eagles and Elton John.
“One of my goals is just to enjoy playing,” Jay said.
4. It helps to be retired, but it’s not required.
Retirees or empty-nesters may find themselves with plenty of extra time for music lessons.
But even those of us swamped with children and and/or work can probably carve out 10 or 20 minutes daily for practice.
“I’m not stressing out about finding time to practice, but at the same time I’m using ten minutes when dinner is cooking or ten minutes before we have to go somewhere to play a little bit,” said guitar student Mindy Ingersoll. “Instead of checking Facebook I’m playing the guitar — it’s definitely a better use of my time.”
The key to making time? You have to really want it.
What’s motivating you? Really figure it out. Write it on a piece of paper and hang it over your piano. Will that motivation carry you through those nights you’d really prefer to binge-watch Better Call Saul?
5. You can de-stress, if you let yourself.
We humans– children and adults alike– can be hard on ourselves. When you can’t immediately play that Beethoven sonata like your teacher, it’s easy to beat yourself up and lose perspective.
Remember that learning a new skill is hard and time-consuming. But the more you practice and sharpen those skills, the more fun you’ll have playing.
6. You won’t get in trouble if you don’t practice.
And your teacher will probably appreciate your honesty.
“I love that my adult students tend to be more open with me about whether or not they practice, have nerves, or have interest in a certain song,” piano teacher Leah Rockweit said.
On the other hand, practice is necessary for all ages. Don’t abuse your “I’m gonna be honest” pass. If you find yourself skipping practice, get back on the horse.
7. You can make new friends– if you want.
Group music lessons are a great way to meet like-minded musical newbies. But even private music lessons can open doors to new friendship with teachers, or with other students you may meet at recitals.
On the other hand, music practice is a great way to escape into solo creative bliss.
8. You’ll set a good example for your kids and grandkids.
And not just the ones who are also taking music lessons.
It’s healthy for kids to see their parents or grandparents taking on new challenges and working toward a goal. They’ll witness first-hand that skills don’t come knocking on our door, that they require consistency and practice.
“Our kids don’t often see us in that role,” said parent Cristina Lasko, who took music lessons simultaneously with her daughter. “Typically we’re expected to just know how to do everything.”
Adults may lose touch with how new the world is to a child. How enlightening to be on the same level as our kids, and to put ourselves in the “growing” position for a change.
For our brave adult beginners, some words of advice:
Find out why taking music lessons with your kids is awesome, or peruse our roster of excellent teachers.
Special thanks to Debby Dubow, Michelle Hirsch, Jay Dembsky, Jonathan Messinger, Emily Volz, Leah Rockweit, and Andrew Lawrence for contributing to this article.