Is It Too Late for Adults to Start Learning a Musical Instrument?

drummer playing drums

On the topic of learning musical instruments, most articles and studies are directed toward its effects on children, proving how it improves cognitive skills and academic performance. But what could be the outcome if the person learning is an adult? Can an adult be even taught to play a musical instrument?

Absolutely. Adults are capable of learning how to play a musical instrument, so it’s never too late for them to try. However, what can they expect while learning? Will they be harder to teach because of their age? Find out what the experts say.

Adults Have an Advantage

It turns out adults have an advantage over children when it comes to learning a musical instrument. James Lenger, founder of Guitar Cities and music instructor for 21 years, have adult students to whom he asks to write down at the back of their worksheets the songs they’d like to learn to play. This gives adults an advantage over kids because they already have a lifetime of exposure to music before learning them. As a result, they can relate to music better and can understand the basic structures of music.

Adults are also more likely to be disciplined than children. Children learning instruments for the first time will need to time to adapt to the new environment, while adults already have plenty of life experiences and would, therefore, adapt to the new environment easier, which is beneficial for learning a musical instrument. In addition, adults also grasp abstract concepts better than children.

However, adults also have a nature to aim for perfection, which can affect their learning speed because it’s unrealistic to expect perfection at the first try. That said, adults will learn faster if they open a room for mistakes and improvement.

Benefits of Playing Music to an Adult’s Brain

Man playing guitar at home

Norman Weinberger, a neuroscientist at the University of California Irvine, says that brain scans of musicians show the enormity of the areas of the brain that get activated when they play music. This is because other than the brain itself, adults put their muscles and senses to work when they play a musical instrument, prompting the parts of the brain responsible for those to light up. In addition, adults already have developed brain cells that can make new connections between music and other aspects of life, as opposed to children who are still undergoing the stages of developing new brain cells, which they all devote to learning and playing a musical instrument.

A study in 2013 has also found that adults with only moderate musical training can experience long-lasting benefits such as being able to maintain keen processing of speech sounds and resilience to age-related decline in hearing. It also protects the brain against dementia.

Music can also relieve stress, which is very helpful for adults. It releases dopamine, a happy hormone, in the reward areas of the brain. The positive mood it causes helps adults stay motivated to learn to play a musical instrument. And of course, a stress-free and happy mind is good for their entire well-being.

Dr. Lenger also stated that many professionals are taking breaks from their hectic lives to squeeze in music lessons. Considering all those positive effects, it’s no wonder adults are also encouraged to take music lessons. So, if you’re an adult who still wishes to play the guitar like your favorite rockstar growing up, it’s not yet — and never too late — to enroll in guitar lessons from an exceptional music academy in Las Vegas or any other metropolitan area. Instructors will surely appreciate your desire to learn music, even with your busy schedule and all.

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