If you have recently picked up an instrument then congratulations on a fantastic decision! The benefits for mental health and future brain health are well known, but music can offer so much more if you approach learning in the right way. Adult learners face different expectations and challenges from children so lets discuss a few tips I have from over 20 years of teaching.
Tip 1 - Practice less
You may have some preconceptions about how much practice is needed to make progress. I have often heard exam boards talk about 1 hour per day practice being needed to prepare for exams. Well, as an adult and parent I can tell you that this is a totally impractical ask. 1 hour practice per day is fine for a school child who has aspirations of becoming a professional musician. For Adults looking for a new hobby, I suggest 30 mins twice a week as a minimum - with the caveat that some weeks will just not happen. If you have a teacher, they will understand.
Tip 2 - Slow down
I am often shocked at how fast children learn. They are malleable, sponge-brained, blank canvases with endless energy and bottomless self esteem. Perfect for absorbing information. Adults on the other hand... well, let's just say Old dogs can learn new tricks, just at a slower pace. So aim a little lower and savour the slow gains. This is recreation! Take your time and enjoy the process. The rewards are huge.
Tip 3 - Cut Corners
Music Syllabus are full of fillers and designed to keep a child engaged through an academic year cycle. Don't waste your time. One of the great things about Adult Education is your ability to see the big picture. For example - Don't bother with exams if they are not your goal. Don't bother with scales and theory. If your goal is to learn a few chords - JUST LEARN A FEW CHORDS!. If your goal is to play a song at your daughters wedding - just focus on getting to that point. If your goal is to play 3 Beatles songs - don't bother learning to read music notation. Unlike a child, you know what you want. Your teacher is there to guide you.
There is so much to explore, but small steps will get you where you want to go. Don't feel like you need to follow a formula in order to get results or conform to expectations. Good look with your journey!
- Baz Rycraft
Bonus tip - Join a group
Music takes on a whole new life when it's shared. Your experience will be greatly enhanced if you join a group. That can be your local choir, an ensemble, Rockjam Adult group or Orchestra. It will give you an extra incentive to practice and the joy of community. Here at Rockjam we have Adult groups running along side our Youth Groups. Our Adult bands perform at Adult Only shows where everyone gets to let their hair down and enjoy the experience of getting up on stage and sharing a love of music with like minded individuals.
Find out more about our Adult Rockjam Bands here