One of the most common questions we get about piano lessons for adults is: “Can I learn to play the piano? Am I too old?”. Certainly, there are benefits to learning the piano at a young age. Some advantages include muscle memory and physical flexibility, but unless the adult student is planning a concert career, there are no limitations to learning other than those put upon themselves. It is entirely possible to learn simple beginning, intermediate, and advanced level pieces. In fact, it is quite possible that adult students are able to learn better than children in some cases. This is because some of the concepts necessary to understand music and learn to play the piano are complicated and intellectual. These concepts can be hard for a young child to grasp, but easy for the adult student. Additionally, adults have learned how to learn efficiently over the years, and are usually better at the process of learning than say a 5 or 6 year old child. Additionally, often adults hand eye coordination is better than children, and makes it easier for them to get faster results in their lessons. Where then does the misconception come from, that it’s much harder to learn as an adult?
Piano lessons for adults, what we have found
It’s not that adults learn slower, but that they tend to stop practicing or stop lessons much faster than kids. This is partially because of the business of their lives, but also probably due to self-doubt, and the sometimes uncomfortable feeling of being a beginner. As we work with adult students, one of our goals is to make sure they have a positive viewpoint of their potential and their progress. Even more perhaps than children, it’s necessary for instructors to make clear goals for their adult students and to help educate them on the process of creating their own “Healthy” goals. “Healthy” goals, involve setting the expectation bar just high enough. If expectations are too high the student may become overwhelmed, on the other hand, if the practicing is too comfortable, (not really challenging themselves), they will not feel growth and eventually want to stop.
Our philosophy on working with adult beginners
The feeling of growth and momentum is what keeps people excited about any subject. In piano lessons for adults, the instructor must be especially delicate. Many adult students have achieved great things in their personal lives or careers, but now find themselves at the very beginning of the learning process with the piano. The instructor needs to be sensitive to the ego of the adult student, but it also helps if the adult student can learn to not take themselves too seriously, and enjoy being a beginner, being child like again. Although adult students may be more capable of intellectually understanding musical concepts music theory etc., it’s very important that the instructor focus on the music that they like. It’s much easier to motivate someone to learn a song they really love rather than just an exercise. It’s the job of the experienced instructor to guide the process to make sure the student is getting a combination of technical exercise and fun songs to keep them excited.
Set Aside the Time
We get it that life can often get in the way of a pattern of practicing. We also know that the best results come from consistency. There are some things that the adult student can do to help improve their results. Number one practice at the same day and time everyday. Pick a time that you are least likely to find yourself having conflicts such as early morning or late at night. Inform your loved ones and those close to you about your plan and put it on your calendar. Consider this your me time a time that you can focus on bettering yourself rather than getting distracted by others and their needs. In thinking this way and practicing this way music becomes and almost meditative way to calm your nerves from the challenges and pressures of life and to focus on music.
Phycology is 80%
Pay attention to the inner voice in your head that might be judging you. Many adult students can be too harsh with themselves as they begin the process. Often they might believe they should be learning faster or they didn’t get the instructions just right from the teacher etc.. These negative thoughts and ideas can be discouraging overtime and it’s important to change that self talk into something positive. Example and adult student might replace the phrase oh I’m never going to be good enough with how can I improve this part? By paying attention and being an observer of both your practicing and your thinking process you’ll find practicing becoming a discipline that is useful not only to learning an instrument but to achieving any life goals.
Participate in recitals, even if it makes you nervous
Participate in recitals for adults. Many adult students are shy of performing in front of each other. Doing this however creates a great goal for the adult student, helps them to get over some of their fears and insecurities about possibly failing in front of their peers, and ultimately in most cases causes them to get a boost of excitement about their progress and about their potential. Here at Angeles Academy we have created a fantastic adult recital which is designed to cater to adult students who may be nervous about performing. The recital includes wine and cheese and friendly conversation in a warm environment that encourages each student.
Remember, after teaching thousands of piano lessons for adults we have found that adults can learn just as fast as children and sometimes faster, but they often quit too soon, and sometimes self-sabotaging because of a belief that they should be learning faster. There was something that drew the student to want to learn the piano, that caused caused them to carve out time in their busy schedule, and to pay for expensive lessons. We advise adult student that they owe it to themselves to not quit, but persevere through any challenges and talk with your instructor. Often times they can help you by adjusting your goals, or finding out what mental obstacles might be holding you back.
For more information, please visit our page Piano Lessons for Adults and learn more! Sign up for a trial class or enroll today!