Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: How to Learn ANY Instrument As An Adult

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Posts
    38
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default How to Learn ANY Instrument As An Adult

    Before you post another, "Can I learn to play [insert instrument] if I'm [insert age]?" READ THIS. PLEASE. It's not bad to post those, that's the whole point of the beginners' section. If you have questions, ask. That's completely a good thing.
    I'm not trying to discourage you, but those posts are usually precisely the same (like posting your age and then asking if it's possible for you to learn an instrument). Instead, post about something specific we'll actually be able to help you with.
    I'm by no means an expert. I am a student myself, and I've never taught. However. I do have a few tips for you, from my experience learning and playing my instruments, and from having six teachers over eight years (you learn a lot about their different styles of teaching).
    First of all, you can learn ANY instrument at ANY age. Sure, it may take awhile for your muscles to adapt. It will take time and effort. You may not become a concert musician. But it's completely possible for you to learn, casually perform, and perform in your community orchestra, with an instrument. Also know that you won't immediately be a virtuoso, a common misconception I find with adults. Some think they'll immediately be playing some really advanced piece, after only playing for a few months. Not to sound harsh, but you won't. It takes years to get at that level of mastery. Please stick to pieces your level, and yes, challenge yourself, but do it with an open mind.
    The first step is to figure out your budget. Where is it on the continuum? Does your budget allow for a decent instrument and a decent teacher, or would it better allow for installments on an instrument and occasional lessons? Make a budget plan.
    What instrument do you want to play? You probably already know this, but maybe you'd like to learn multiple instruments. Most people start out on a ukelele, guitar, piano, violin, or flute. If the instrument you want isn't included in that list, that's wonderful. You can start out on a cello, or on a saxophone, or an oboe, or an erhu. Just know that it will probably be more expensive to buy, and more difficult to find, but it is doable. If you don't want to play a common instrument, then don't.
    What genre do you want to play? This is more important than you may think. Before I get into that, I do, however, want to say that you can explore different genres before finding one or many that match you. I personally prefer classical and jazz, with the occasional Celtic or other tune. For example, if you want to play classical violin, you won't want to have a fiddle teacher (or vice versa). The techniques are different. I wish now that I had of been able to find a classical violin teacher in my area when I first started, instead of fiddle, because in fiddle, you don't really seem to focus on technique much. Now, music theory and technique may make you inwardly or outwardly groan, but I promise a few months or years down the road, you'll be glad that's what your teacher focused on. A strong foundation in technique is what leads to a better musical experience. Music theory isn't really important for a raw beginner, but you'll also be glad you learned what all those weird symbols mean when you're an intermediate or advanced student. Trust me, it makes advanced life much easier when you can read what's in front of you.
    About learning music theory, I always like to kind of give this illustration: you're learning a new language. You move to an area that speaks it, but you don't know the first thing about the language. You try to mingle with the locals to learn. You struggle at first, but eventually you can speak small phrases. A few months later you can carry on a casual conversation. Maybe a couple years later, you can carry on a full conversation. You begin to speak it more naturally.
    But you have absolutely no clue what those words are on paper. You can't write in the language. You can't read in it. Which is going to make life unecessarily difficult. You can either continue on, oblivious, or you could start learning reading and writing.
    But if you had of learned from the start how to BOTH speak and read the language, you'd have learned much faster, and much more efficiently. You also wouldn't be in the same position as you are in now.
    Sure, you can speak it sort of well, but if you can't read it, how are you supposed to live?
    It's the same wih music. If you learn to play only, but not theory or technique, down the road, you'll be regretting it. You can't learn some extremely advanced piece by ear as you can Mary Had A Little Lamb. Sure, it works in the beginning, but not later on. That's why classical musicians teach all of that stuff from the start, along with your pieces.
    Find a teacher nearby. Many will probably be fine with you paying them on a monthly basis, if that's all your budget will allow for.
    Find a music store in your area. Before you jump at the first flute they show you, or the first fiddle, get an experienced player (preferably the teacher you've already found) to try out some different models. They'll probably have a recommendation for you already, but it's nice when you can hear it before you make a purchase. Unless you are 100% certain THIS is the instrument you will be playing on for at least five years, you may want to rent first. This is also better for your budget. Some instruments sound better in the shop than they do at home, and this way, you get it play it for as long as you like to ensure you love it. If not, you can simply stop renting it. There's no commitment. Another beauty part is that you can decide to switch to another instrument if the current one doesn't work out.
    Make sure you have a quiet place to practice. It gets irritating for you and for those you live with. Not everybody has this problem, and it can be worked to your advantage, but I still say, your family won't like it every time you practice, and you won't like the constant interruptions. So that quiet place is probably your bedroom, or maybe an office. Whatever feels the most natural.
    I love finding new blogs, websites, and YouTube channels that are about music. A lot can be learned from them
    Another thing. My teachers never did this with me. Most of mine just wanted me to learn a piece, practicing like I'm performing, and move on once I could play it well. So that's what I did, until I started reading blog posts and such, and found deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is so much better than mindless practice. Because if you are just going through the motions, you're basically wasting your time. Deliberate practice means you take a couple of measures of the music, and you master them. You move on, doing that until you get to the end. Now, some teachers will ONLY do this method, and then expect you to play the full piece wonderfully the first time, especially during an actual performance.
    I don't. I find that notion absurd.
    In one practice session, I like to play a piece both ways. Say, I'm practicing three pieces (Für Elise, Rondo Alla Turca, and a Chopin Nocturne) and a Hanon exercise. This would be my one-hour practice session:
    - Hanon exercise to warmup, probably to speed.
    - Five minutes deliberately practicing Rondo Alla Turca
    - Five minutes playing through Für Elise
    - Five minutes Hanon, slowed down. I like to work on hand independence during this.
    - Five minutes Chopin Nocturne, deliberately.
    - Five minutes Rondo, played through
    - Five minutes Für Elise, slowed down and played deliberately
    - Five-ten minutes improvisation. You don't have to do this, I just like to.
    - Five minutes Chopin, played through
    - Five minutes technique. This could be hand independence, dynamics, trills, or anything, really.
    - Then I either pretend I'm actually performing, or I just do whatever I feel like doing. Sometimes I practice with a piece playing on my phone. Sometimes I repeat a piece, sometimes I end practice early.
    The point is, work smarter, not harder, in whatever way that suits you. Your practice routine will probably grow to be different than someone else's, and that's good. You're growing as a musician and finding your own style.
    Find some other musicians around. It can be a great experience playing with others (like mingling with the locals in that illustration). You can learn a lot from them, and with them. You can improve a great deal this way, and plus, it's fun.
    Some teachers and musicians will pressure you to perform. My second piano teacher did, constantly. He'd be going on about how you aren't a musician if you don't perform. Poppycock. You are a musician when you play an instrument. If you perform, you are a performing musician. If you perform for profit, you are a working musician. In any case, you're still a musician, end of story.
    Anoher thing my teachers have done, is drop a recital on me a month before the date. They gave me no previous warning, no previous preparation. And I went along with it. I was also only eight or nine at the time. The first piano performance I gave was okay but not great. I was only at level two, and played one page of a level five piece, something I'd have no difficulty with now, but I did then. I wasn't ready. Then I went to another teacher a couple of years later, and she wanted me to perform. Again, she dropped it on me a couple weeks before, expecting me to be ready, and I did it, but it wasn't great. I wasn't ready. Then last year, there was this casual get-together a bunch of our friends had. The night before, I randomly joked about how I should bring my violin and play. My mom completely agreed, and I guess I felt like if I didn't, I'd be disappointing her and everyone else. So I did it. And guess what? I wasn't ready. FINALLY, in August, I was thinking of casually performing at a little fair in my area, and I was going to do it. Then I decided, nope. I'm not ready to yet. Now, I'm preparing for a recital in May, and I think I will be ready.
    So perform if and when YOU are ready to, not when others start expecting it of you.
    In hindsight, I'm glad I did do those performances, because I've learned from them.
    Anyway, best of luck. Don't give up on your dreams and goals. You'll get frustrated along your journey, you'll want to give up. Just remember that life isn't just about the highs. It'd get pretty boring if it was. It's also about the lows and everything on between. One path will take so many twists and turns you'll be confused by the end of it. It's how you view it that makes the difference. What's the difference between a straight path and a crooked one? The crooked one is much more entertaining. Don't give up unless you're really certain that's what's best for you.
    Hope this helps, though it's long.
    Last edited by Jeanette Townsend; Jan-15-2019 at 18:51.

  2. Likes Ingélou, Larkenfield liked this post
  3. #2
    New Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    10
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    To learn any instrument as an adult first you need to know your interest. When you are learning something which you are not interested then you can't learn any instrument. Its wastage of money and also time. If you are learning instruments which you are very interested then youwill learn more easily.

  4. Likes N/A, Ingélou liked this post
  5. #3
    poco a poco
    Guest

    Default

    If you are learning instruments which you are very interested then youwill learn more easily.



    I always wanted to play piano, and as an adult I begun lessons , probably left it a bit late, but nevertheless I enjoy the learning and the enjoyment of playing something albeit easy stuff. Now, when I first started, I thought , hey this is easy , the notes are all there and I just have to learn the keyboard, memorise the notes , I was having fun , until I wanted to challenge myself more and more by doing grades and that proved to me to be a bit harder. I did grades 1 and 2 no bother and now I have taken longer that I should doing grade 3, but it's getting there, I have my ups and downs, but plod on with it, see how far I can achieve doing it. But I think learning the piano as an adult , you also know what your limits are.

    So when you say you will learn more easily , it actually gets harder if you want to move up the grades, I may do grade 4, but I know that will be a marathon trial, but the love of just being able to play and learn drives me on, plus it is what I have chosen to do for my retirement.

    .
    Last edited by poco a poco; Jan-16-2019 at 21:17.

  6. Likes Ingélou liked this post
  7. #4
    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Norfolk (ex-Glasgow)
    Posts
    4,078
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeanette Townsend View Post
    Some teachers and musicians will pressure you to perform. My second piano teacher did, constantly. He'd be going on about how you aren't a musician if you don't perform. Poppycock. You are a musician when you play an instrument. If you perform, you are a performing musician. If you perform for profit, you are a working musician. In any case, you're still a musician, end of story.
    If you can make real money out of classical music then you're a genius.

    The whole point of performing, like taking grade exams, is to put a but of pressure on. We all know that when you add something to a piece - dynamics, pedal, ornaments - whatever then something else tends to go. You need tremendous focus to get all the elements right. Performance is one of those elements. It's a way of expressing your musicality not just through your playing but through your communication of the piece by your attitude and body language. The old chestnut about the way you could pick the winners in a music contest - without the sound - by studying their performance. That's your rapport with the audience and that needs practice too.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

  8. Likes Rogerx, Ingélou, N/A liked this post
  9. #5
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    12,517
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Taggart View Post
    If you can make real money out of classical music then you're a genius.
    Not maybe a genius but you have to be highly talented. Even the back bench of a violin section of an orchestra is of a standard where the test piece is beyond most of us. But that's not the point of music. The point is to enjoy. You might not be a great footballer but you can still get enjoyment by playing, even at a low level, or by simply watching. Knowing how to play an instrument certainly enhances your enjoyment of music. And if you have a voice (I don't) what about a choir?

  10. Likes Ingélou liked this post
  11. #6
    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Norfolk (ex-York)
    Posts
    5,150
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    36

    Default

    I think the OP has much of sense in it. I think motivation has the most to do with it, however - loving your instrument and knowing what you aspire to (with realistic goals) is half the battle.

    I take the OP's point about focused practice, and have often read the same advice elsewhere - but speaking for myself, I don't think I'd still be so passionate about my fiddle after seven years if I didn't simply love practising, and I'm afraid that such organised prescriptive practice just doesn't float my boat.

    But then, I don't aspire to learning lots of different violin techniques - I aspire to be a 'workmanlike fiddler'.

    As the Chinese proverb puts it - 'Know yourself - know your opponent: in a hundred battles, win a hundred victories.'
    Last edited by Ingélou; Jan-17-2019 at 11:42.
    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

  12. Likes Taggart, N/A liked this post
  13. #7
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Posts
    38
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Thanks for all your responses! I had meant to say about giving your opinions, but forgot.
    Please know that this was just my personal take on it. And again, I have never taught besides showing my aunt the basics of violin. And I'm also just a student myself, so you all no doubt know more than me.
    Ingélou, yes. You have to have fun doing it! And if that works for you, that's wonderful. For piano, I prefer deliberate practice, but for violin, I prefer the other way, as you said. I think it really depends on the person in question.
    David A, awesome reply to Taggart. I don't really remember listening to music without being a musician, as I was eight when I started piano, but it does really enhance your perspective on music.
    Taggart, thanks. I didn't really want to go into the whole situation with working musicians, I only mentioned that in passing. If you perform for profit, like at restaurants or other paying venues, than I consider that a working musician. Even if a paycheck from some shop won't be much. I just don't get how that teacher thought that performing is what makes a musician a musician. Sure, performing is extremely beneficial for students. Like you said, it helps a lot of different things, like musicality, focus, etc. Personally, I disagree that performing is specifically to put pressure on, but I do get your point, I think. All I meant by "pressure" was the constant nagging that piano teacher did. But, the musician has to be willing to perform. I think there's a huge difference between "pressuring" a student and "encouraging" them. Others thrive under pressure, and that's lovely. It doesn't work for me, and it doesn't work for some others.
    But performing has nothing to do with being a musician, or at least in my opinion it doesn't. Is a sketch artist less of an artist if they don't busk? If they don't make some profit off of their art? I don't think so. My mom is a very skilled artist. She just does it as a hobby. For me, it's the same with music. I've met some skilled musicians who have never formally performed, but they are still fairly proficient.
    Sevennotes, great point. You are so right.
    Poco, it's great that you are learning. Better late than never! I personally have never done grading exams. I've also never really stayed within one level.
    I think it's a really subjective topic. Everyone has their own method of learning, and that should be encouraged.

  14. #8
    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Norfolk (ex-Glasgow)
    Posts
    4,078
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeanette Townsend View Post
    But performing has nothing to do with being a musician, or at least in my opinion it doesn't. Is a sketch artist less of an artist if they don't busk? If they don't make some profit off of their art? I don't think so. My mom is a very skilled artist. She just does it as a hobby. For me, it's the same with music. I've met some skilled musicians who have never formally performed, but they are still fairly proficient.
    Bit like the lonely tree in the forest that fall down. Does it make a noise?

    If you only play (or paint) for yourself, you have an audience of one whom you know reasonably well and know what will please them. If you perform, you have to cope with a wider audience. The ABRSM Graded Exams have clear statements about performance. At distinction level, they are looking for:

    • Assured
    • Fully committed
    • Vivid communication of character and style


    At Merit level:

    • Positive
    • Carrying musical conviction
    • Character and style communicated


    If you don't perform, then you don't need these communication skills.

    An even more complex example - if you play dance tunes, you can be metronome perfect. Can you, however, encourage a group of people to dance better by your playing; can you adapt when a group gets behind in the dance and the tune runs out?

    It's a question of what is music for? If music has a meaning, then it can't be a monologue, it must be a conversation or a performance.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

  15. #9
    Senior Member jurianbai's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    1,348
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    in year 2016 I bought a flute and begin learning it. I learned this new instrument solely by reading and watching videos, including the sight reading elements. Eventhough I am actually play another instrument (guitar, keyboard). I think I learned all the basic in just below half year, after that I can play it in the level of 'jamming' as I wish. After that I stuck in that situation. I can not improve my speed and the quality of my embouchure. I think it is because it required in person mentor to guide me.

  16. Likes N/A liked this post

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •