We run a fabulous music tuition agency in London and one of the questions we get often asked is: ‘Do we provide music lessons for adults?’ Of course the answer is yes. So we asked a few people to write some more questions for me to answer and assist you in considering starting or coming back to learning music.
Peter from Kensington, first asked:
‘What would you say to those you are looking for music lessons, and they had lessons as a child and sadly gave up, but they would like to start again?’
Well Peter that is a very interesting thing and do you know what if I had a pound for everybody who came and said this to me I would be very wealthy man. I tell you. I would honestly say, if you feel like you want to start lessons again and you had lessons as a child, then start again. It is simple as that. I know it is going to be difficult. Moreover, adults always learn a little bit slowly in all honesty. And also, there is a little bit of stigma sometimes about the old lessons you had as a child and maybe you did not have such a nice teacher. But forget all about that! You are an adult and you are fully in control now. Find a great teacher who you can work with. And I am sure you are going to enjoy lessons.
Sara from Chelsea also asked:
‘Do you think children can inspire adults to take music lessons?’
I think the answer is yes, absolutely. Children have this amazing sponge-like-ability to just soak anything around them. Quite frankly, they learn very well, particularly by sight. It is something which sadly as adults we slightly start to lose. Interesting, most children are born with a photographic memory and the older you get the worse it gets. By the time you are 50 or so, that photographic memory has gone which makes a lot more difficult to actually learn music. The other slight problemthat adults have is attention. It is very often that you have a lesson one week and you go back next week and you hope you remember things you have done a weak earlier but of course you do not. You forget it. But that is just one of the things about being an adult and learning a new skill that you have to put up with.
David from Battersea:
‘Doesn’t an adult need to study musical theory?’
That is a quite tricky one to answer honestly, because it depends on what you want to get out of your music lessons. I probably going to take you that you do not want to become some world famous concert pianist or pop star. And if you just started music lessons just to have a little bit for yourself having a little bit theory is good. It is a very good thing. The biggest problem with adults learning is that they always ask ‘why’? Why it is called C major chord? Why is that note four counts long? And sometimes as a teacher I answer: just because it is! It is as simple as that. It is not worth knowing why at this stage. And that is actually the hardest thing to get over as an adult. You are not going to have all the answers straight away. So as long as you can be a bit patient and if your teacher turns around and says it to you ‘there is no reason to know yet why this is called semidemimemi graver’, Then you are going to be doing great.
Alistair from Hampton asked:
‘If I am starting lessons afresh as an adult, what instrument do you recommend?’
Now that an easy one to me to say. I would always say – piano. This answer could be biased, yes I am a pianist. But the piano is the only instrument where you can see all notes in front of you laid out in the sequence in a very simple look up sequence. It does not matter if you are playing violin or guitar or trumpet. Everything else has a hand positions and it depends on an em embouchure and all sorts of things. So I would always say if you are in doubt stick with the piano. It is probably easiest instrument to pick up as an adult.
Claire, Notting Hill:
‘What are the benefits of learning a musical instrument for an adult?’
Well… again… a whole video is worth it. But first of all, did you know that playing an instrument can make you smarter? I studied that by the DrJanset from St. Andrew’s University actually tested: cognitive ability of musician against non-musicians. She found that learning a musical instrument slows and prevents mental declines associated with aging. So that is a very important thing to understand.
Did you also know that one of the most powerful and successful people in the world, have learn musical instrument to a really high standard? Condoleezza Rice in America, she was a concert pianist. The hedge fund billionaire Bruce Kovner, he was a pianist. He took classes at Julliard school. In Microsoft, the billionaire Paul Allen who was a guitarist. Woody Allen was a clarinetist as it was Steven Spielberg. The Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath was a conductor. Also Anthony Hopkins, the actor, and even Albert Einstein was trained as a pianist and violinist. So all the best people in the world learnt a musical instrument as it is a really great way to get your mind working.
Also, it helps you to release stress. I know a lot of adults who learn music for one hour a week and they treat it as an stress relief. They switch off their phones, switch off their emails and sit down at the piano, stand up for the violin and the world goes away! And it is quite an amazing thing to do. An the sense of achievement of course is quite phenomenal and hey let’s not forget that playing a musical instrument can be great fun!