Think you missed your chance at musical greatness just because you didn’t start playing as a child? Think again. Sure, there’s something to be said about young minds and how quickly they pick up new skills, but that doesn’t mean you — at 40, 60, or beyond — are incapable of learning a new talent. Forget about the misconceptions and prejudice against your age. You can learn how to play an instrument at any time in your life if you’re willing to put in the time.
You’ll need a lot of it. And patience, too.Forget about what they say about old dogs — it’ll just take you longer than a younger one to pick up new tricks. There’s a reason for that. When we’re children, our brains have yet to form and strengthen the connections between neurons. For those who are placed into music lessons at a young age, they’ll develop these synapses as they learn how to read and play music. Lessons sink in faster and are retained for longer because of this.
As we age, our brain chemistry changes. Though your brain isn’t an ossified organ that can’t establish new connections, it has spent the length of your lifetime reinforcing fully formed synapses — all of which were developed without music theory and practice. Picking up the guitar or keyboard later in life is therefore a little trickier than if you had done it during childhood. It will simply take more time to pick up lessons.
But you’ll pick them up all the same, as long as you’re dedicated. Your age even gives you certain advantages over your younger counterparts. You have real-world experience that you can apply to your music lessons. Think of them as life lessons you’ve realized over the years. For example:
- If you’ve ever worked a 9–5 job for years on end in a position you don’t like, then you’ve developed the emotional resolve you need to get through mentally draining tasks (i.e. learning a particularly challenging song)
- As an adult you’ll have a better sense of self as you understand more of your strengths and weaknesses, so you can help tailor a lesson plan that fits both your schedule and your learning style.
- You even have a greater ability to think through complex problems, which is a necessary skill when reading about music theory.
So it’s not all bad picking up the guitar in your golden years. As long as you have the dedication to sit beyond the fret, then you’re already halfway there. It also helps to have a knowledgeable music instructor to help you reach your goals. A well-rounded teacher can develop a lesson plan that accommodates your learning style — and your schedule, too. Whether you’re still working 40 or more hours a week or if you’re enjoying your retirement, there’s a musical instructor out there that’s a perfect fit for you.
You can usually find them at one of Canada’s top music stores. Canadian music stores are more than just a place to shop for your guitar (or keyboard, violin, or any other instrument you’ve decided to master late in life). They’re also a great resource for music lessons. With over 50 locations across the country, Long & McQuade is one such music store that offers flexible lessons that fit with your schedule. You can visit Long-mcquade.com to see if there’s one in your hometown. You can even search their website to learn more about beginner guitar lessons.
With an excellent instructor on your side, you can be guided through learning your instrument late in life. Apply some of the dedication and patience you’ve picked up along the way and you’ll be reaching your goals sooner than you think. As long as you keep it realistic, you can be playing Stairway to Heaven with the best of them, regardless of your age. Just remember to approach the fret with enthusiasm, and you’ll discover even an old dog can learn new tricks.