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Learning an Instrument at an Older Age - Student Blog

learning an instrument at an older agWhen you get to be older like me, you get used to certain things becoming more difficult, while other things become easier.  Recently I was talking to a good friend from college who also plays music.  He told me that as he has gotten older, he can learn quicker now than when he was younger. I began to think about this and have some observations about why this might be.

Older folks have gotten used to the "busyness" of life. Thusly they understand the importance of making maximum use of their time. This can be related to learning an instrument, and I myself have applied it. This is one reason for taking lessons and a major reason for choosing ArtistWorks.  It's been beneficial for me to choose when I view lessons and when I submit videos for review. I have experienced "self taught learning”, and it takes me a long time to advance. Lessons are the better way to go.

video exchange with darol anger

Anyway back to learning quicker as we get older. As older people, we know that 'the way you eat an elephant is one bite at the time.’ So if we realize we know one musical phrase properly, then we can move on to the next challenge with confidence. In fiddling that may mean playing just ONE note in tune with good tone - then we can move onto getting two good notes. Step by step we will get it done.

When I started cleaning up my fiddling, it took two weeks trying to clean up intonation of certain notes and fixing bowing problems, along with making bow grip adjustments all at the same time.

During this time I attempted NO tunes. It was tough to discipline myself to just play long tones. But starting with the fundamentals cannot be stressed enough.  For me after I have confidence in one thing, I can move on to the next challenge and then conquer it. Click on the image on the right to watch my very first Video Exchane® with Darol Anger:

Once I learn a note or a phrase or a bowing pattern I can confidently duplicate it in other tunes. This is an important piece of my learning. This is rudimentary but worth saying.

Another thing my friend said was that he had to listen properly, to make sure he was hearing the right notes and rhythms.

This is something I have learned here late in life. Now, much more than when I was young, I listen very carefully to recordings to accurately understand what is being played. Am I playing the notes even close? Do I have the rhythm? Sometimes, I also use the shoot then aim method.  

Now, I’m still not perfect at any of it.  But I like to think I am much more efficient than when I was younger.

I encourage everyone to think about how you learn your instrument. Think about how you practice. Think about how you compare your playing to what you would like to sound like. If you are mature like me, you know that this kind of thought process can be rewarding.  

 learning an instrument at an older age

ArtistWorks student Glen T. Learn fiddle online with Darol Anger at

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