If you are thinking of learning a musical instrument as an adult, you might be wondering if you can do it. Maybe learning a musical instrument has been a lifelong dream, or perhaps you have been inspired to learn along with your kids.
Whatever your reasons, you can succeed at your chosen instrument if you are willing to commit to what it takes. Try these handy tips to help you stay focused and make your dream a reality.
It may seem like stating the obvious, but you have to practice. Even the very best concert musicians spend a lot of their time practicing.
When you make practice a part of your daily routine, it will become a habit and you will be able to do it without thinking much about it. Each time you practice, you are strengthening the pathways in your brain that enable you to play an instrument. Good and bad habits are simply pathways in the brain that have become established over time.
Learn to listen to music to understand it. Pay attention to the different sounds you hear such as harmonies, different instruments and the dynamics of loud and soft. Learning to listen to music will help it to become natural and expressive when you play it yourself. There is a difference between playing the notes that you see and playing with expression, colour and texture. When you play with expression, you are playing with the ebb and flow of feeling and movement. Your work becomes dynamic and interesting to listen to. Without expression, it may sound dull, boring and mechanical.
3. Discipline Yourself
Learning a musical instrument requires discipline. You have to make up your mind that you are going to do whatever it takes. Set yourself a goal and a timeline; for example, you want to reach a certain level or be able to play a certain piece in a year’s time.
What do you need to do to hit your target? Decide on a plan, work out how you are going to commit the time to practice and stick to it. You are investing time and money in learning, so you owe it to yourself to meet your goals.
4. Be Reliable
Being reliable will help you to gain a solid grounding in what you are learning. When you regularly attend lessons, you are reinforcing what you are learning in your neural pathways. If you attend lessons irregularly you will not receive the same benefits. Regular attendance shows that you are serious about learning, and your teacher will be happy too!
5. Stay Focused
It can be easy to get distracted in the midst of a busy life. Before you know it, it’s time for your next lesson and you haven’t practiced. Staying focused will help you to achieve your goals. Being able to see the big picture is great, but you achieve it by the actions you take each day. Try these tips to help you stay focused:
• Set aside the same time each day for practice
• Make practice part of your daily routine so that you feel like something is missing if you don’t do it
• Set smaller weekly or monthly goals and give yourself a small reward when you meet them
• Ask someone to hold you accountable for what you have done each week
• Learn to let it go and move on if you miss a goal or don’t get all your practice done. Sometimes life takes unexpected twists and turns and the best thing you can do is get going again.
6. Have Fun
Keep in mind the reasons that you are learning. Don’t let it become too serious or a burden because then you won’t enjoy it. When you enjoy learning you are able to remember what you are learning more readily.
The social aspect of music can add to the fun. If you are learning in a band or group you will know the camaraderie that takes place from learning together (even if you are all getting into trouble for making the same mistakes)! Learning and playing together can be socially satisfying and lots of fun.
Learning an instrument as an older beginner can be satisfying as you master a new skill, and you will feel rewarded as you meet your goals. You might even be an inspiration to others!