The benefits of taking music lessons as a child, and especially when starting young, are obvious. Studies have show that children's brains develop better when exposed to music from a young age, their behaviour and emotions are influenced by music lessons, and they learn necessary social skills from music lessons.
But what about adults? If children are learning all those amazing things from music lessons at such a young age, is there even any point in adults taking music lessons?
Science has shown that learning to play a musical instrument keeps your brain sharp, maintains its plasticity, and can change it’s structure and function capabilities for the better. Anita Collins made a really interesting Ted-Ed video about how playing a musical instrument affects your brain. You can watch it here.
Moving away from the health and mental benefits, many adult students who enroll in music lessons are rewarded by a number of sometimes surprising benefits. I asked a few adults students from WSM and a family member of mine to share their thoughts on taking music lessons as adults.
Ranga A. (with Sarah since 2012)
“I’ve wanted to learn to play the violin since a very young age. Unfortunately the planets didn’t align for me with finding the time and the right instructor (Sarah) until I was in my mid thirties. My goal was simple; learn the rudiments, read violin sheet music and be able to make music that was pleasing for me and my family.
Learning to play the violin as an adult was not easy. Simple hand-fingers-eye coordination that helps with a task as typing at your computer, translates differently when holding a bow, touching the right note on the strings and reading sheet music.
The important learning for me was to be kind to myself, to take the time I need to learn and to be brave and ask Sarah for help when I hit a snag. I do remind myself ever so often that time is on my side. I am taking lessons and learning something new - doing something outside of my comfort zone. What I am proud of is the personal resolve to self-direct, overcome and pursue my goal.
Learning to play the violin is a lifelong journey - the rewards of persevering are priceless. If you are unsure if this is for you, I recommend signing up for a trial lesson.”
Diana G. (with Sarah since August 2018)
“Are you an adult who's considering music lessons but are feeling apprehensive about it? If so, I can relate! I was in the same position about a year ago. I had so many nagging doubts: Would my performance anxiety get in the way during lessons? Would I make progress at a snail-like speed (or at all!)? Would I be able to develop the discipline to practice daily, even if I was exhausted after a long day of work? I had so many doubts, but I knew that if I didn't at least try out lessons, that I would regret it.
Nearly into a year of violin lessons later, I can say that it's one of the best choices I've ever made. It has reminded me to be and remain humble, and regularly reminds me to appreciate slow and steady progress rather than to want or strive for overnight success. It also reminds me to persevere, and to be consistent. It has made me more self-aware of how I'm feeling, physically and emotionally. It helps me to be more mindful in general. I've also noticed that violin lessons has also helped me with my social anxiety, which surprised me--I've often had to go to work (where I spent most of my time talking to others) following a lesson, and I've tended to feel calmer, and more comfortable and confident than usual. As for practicing after a long day... I recently came back from a long flight, and hadn't brought my violin with me on my trip. I missed it so much! Despite being exhausted, one of the first things I did after getting home was practice the violin. It's so therapeutic!
Violin lessons have made my life noticeably better, and helps me become a better person. I highly recommend music lessons to other adults. It's never too late to learn a musical instrument! :)”
Nell D. (taking piano lessons since retirement)
“We always had an organ at home, so I learned a few of the basics, and over the years we’ve had a piano, and took a few lessons, but then got really busy with other things. Yet, learning to play piano was always something I wanted to do and finally had the time and opportunity to do so after retirement; and wished I’d done it earlier. I realize that there are lots of things we can learn better as children, yet that should not discourage us from doing our best. It’s good physically, mentally and psychologically to learn new things even as we grow older, especially ones we’ve had a desire to learn, and bring pleasure, such as being able to play some favourite pieces and hymns.”
While most adults start taking lessons later on in life or go back to music lessons after a hiatus, some adults start taking music lessons along with their children. The Suzuki Method promotes this as one of the best ways you as a parent can help your child learn to play their instrument. Taking lessons along side your child can help give you the tools you need to motivate your child during their home practicing.
But on top of taking lessons to help your child, learning to play a musical instrument can just be plain old fun and rewarding! So here are a few things you can expect from taking music lessons, from the experiences of our adult students!
Music lessons will be challenging
Taking music lessons as an adult is definitely easier as a child, but not to be missed as an adult. Adults have already developed well-honed hand-eye coordination that might not translate well to playing a musical instrument, but this trains and works different areas of your brain.
You might be nervous
This is totally normal, and from personal experience (I take lessons with a teacher too!), my pieces always sound better at home than they do for my teacher! It is perfectly normal to have the everyday tension of nervousness and anxiety, but music lessons can do a lot to start to soften those anxieties.
It might take a while to feel like you’ve “gotten anywhere”
Adults have adult things to do in their life. You won’t have as much time as a 4 year old to practice, and so consistency is what you should aim for rather than long practices here and there. Even if all you do is play for 5 minutes a day, it’s better than nothing. Remember that one day, you will suddenly realize you can play the violin, and really well!
You might find other areas of life improving
Many students say that other areas in their life, like their emotions, moods, different actions and tasks become easier after putting in the effort for music lessons. Playing a musical instrument exercises different brain muscles, helping your brain retain plasticity and memory as it ages.
If you are an adult and would like to try out music lessons, we offer free trial lessons just like we do with children! Simply book one here for the instrument of your choice, or contact us to set up a trial lesson with the teacher of your choice. If you’d like to know more about what music lessons might be able to offer to an adult, contact us to ask any questions you might have!