Many of our students here at TakeLessons.com are older, hoping to fulfill a life goal they may have had for some time. It’s never too late to start learning an instrument, but it can definitely be a bit scary. Don’t let that stop you, though! The secret to success depends a lot on your attitude. You’re at a stage in life where you can just play for fun, so why not make the most of it? By taking on some childlike traits, mastering the instrument of your choice can be a piece of cake. The Lone Guitarist Blog has some great insight into these traits – here are a few “rules” to follow:
Rule #1: Forget about the master plan
Children don’t have a grand plan in their heads, no roadmap with sub-goals and an ultimate goal — not consciously anyway. Adults have a tendency to plan things, map things out over time, consciously allocate time each day to practice, etc. Children don’t do this. They are a lot more pragmatic and as-it-happens with learning new things.
Children live in the moment, and they don’t worry about the future. They take things in one step at a time. This is a very important thing as it basically prevents you from becoming overwhelmed. If you ignore the bigger picture and ignore what you’ll be doing a week, a month or a year from now, you can focus on what is important to you today.
Rule #2: Very focused, short learning bursts
In the absence of a master plan, it comes down to being able to spot a missing piece in your existing knowledge and then focus your entire concentration on getting it right. When a child is presented with something new, say a single word, they will focus their entire energy on it: first by listening to it, then either trying to pronounce it, or remembering the word and what it is associated with. Children will focus their whole attention on this one word, but only for several seconds, and then move on when they feel they have absorbed the new piece of information or it has simply become boring.
As a musician, you can adopt this approach into your own routine. When you learn something new, and you have trouble with a small part of it — maybe a bar or two in length, maximum — devote all your energy on improving this part. Try to get it exactly perfect, repeatedly. Do this until you feel satisfied that you have improved, and then move on.
Rule #3: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, or to look foolish
Children do things that they will be embarrassed about later on as adults. In fact, they do this all the time. You probably have a lot of these painful memories that you’d rather not talk about. Somehow, when you’re a kid, you don’t really mind or think about it all that much. And as a kid, you get away with these kind of things. Therein lies the power, though, because it allows you to really experiment with things when you’re young.
Adults are expected to behave “properly.” But if you want to improve, go ahead and do that whacky thing that you’ve been too scared to do. If you do get a weird look, just laugh it off, but above all, don’t be scared to look foolish!
So there you have it – taking music lessons as an adult doesn’t have to be scary! Sometimes, you just have to go for it.
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