Am I Too Old To Learn Guitar?


By Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers

If you’re worried that you’ve waited too long to get started, don’t worry and read on for tips and encouragement for learning guitar at any age.

Is there an optimal age to learn guitar?

There really isn’t – nor is there a perfect age for everyone to get married, have kids, or play tennis. We all live and learn on our own schedules, and the simplest answer is that we are ready to take the guitar when we are ready to take the guitar, when we have the desire, the energy and the time.

Of course, our age and stage in life greatly affect the learning process. Children learn fast, with high energy, flexible limbs, and a knack for imitating what they see. But Marcy Marxer, who along with Cathy Fink has been teaching and entertaining children and adults for decades, points out that some things can be more difficult at a young age. “The coordination and dexterity required to play the guitar is often more of a challenge for children than for adults,” she says, “so they have to be patient because it can take a little longer. But the only thing kids have is time: they tend to have more free time than adults.

“Adults have other advantages of listening for longer,” she adds. “I once had a student in her 50s who was playing guitar for the first time. She wanted to learn swing music, so we went in that direction, and all she needed to know was how to play a few chords – she automatically knew how to put them together from their sound. She was like: Oh, it’s like that song or that song. This life experience really helped her.

Carol McComb, veteran teacher and performer and author of Country and blues guitar for the musically desperate, observe that certain aspects of the guitar tend to be easier to learn at certain ages. She says, “For example, playing fingering is difficult for young people; I don’t think they developed the motor coordination, overall, to do it. Some kids are unusual and agree with it. Adolescents become very coordinated from around the age of 12. This coordination remains in adulthood, but she finds that some students over 60, especially those with arthritis, have difficulty learning basic techniques with their fingers.

Due to the guitar’s close kinship with rock’n’roll, many of us begin playing in our teens, a time when we (potentially) have not only coordination, but motivation and motivation as well. schedule to devote countless hours listening, practicing, and leaning on guitar magazines – Bill Purse calls hungry young students as these “legends of their own room”. Of course, that same source of energy can easily be diverted to a number of other activities, leaving the method manual or the lessons unfinished.

According to Purse, it all comes down to engagement. If we’d rather shop, fly fish, or surf than play the guitar, we probably won’t go far with the instrument. But if we, regardless of our age, are truly determined to get music out of those six strings, we will.

Any advice for a newbie adult with a job and a family?

As an adult, you might well envy all the kids learning the guitar, with reserves of time, energy, and confidence in their ability to conquer the six-string beast. But you also have special advantages. As Marcy Marxer noted, your years of listening have given you a lot of intuitive knowledge about the structure and traditions of music, as well as an idea of ​​the specific style (s) you want to play. Your experience mastering so many new skills, from driving a car to job responsibilities to parenting, has undoubtedly given you some insight into the best ways to learn – a lesson you can apply to this. new quest.

And while you may have passed up the opportunity to be a child prodigy or a teenager, it’s never too late to start. Ask any teacher. Cathy Fink talks about a favorite student who learned guitar at age 55. “I walked around the room and asked all the newbies what they were doing in the classroom,” she recalls. “This guy said, ‘Well I looked at my dad when he retired and he was feeling lonely and bored. It’s not going to happen to me, so I have a guitar. ‘”Too bad this man’s dad doesn’t know the 90-year-old couple who once took Carol McComb’s debut class at a music camp!

As a newbie adult you need to strategize about time first – this project will require regular commitment. To be realistic; There is no point in setting a goal of training three hours a day if there is no hope of it. If you are taking lessons, immediately discuss time issues with your teacher. Your gaming sessions don’t have to be long: Effective 20-minute training sessions that address specific, achievable goals are more effective than hours of mindless noodles. So reserve small chunks of time at frequent intervals for you and your guitar, and protect them. Finding a space at home where your kids won’t climb on your back while you play isn’t a bad idea either.

There are so many ways to learn guitar these days, from books, videos, and apps to private and group lessons to music camps, that you can surely find one that fits your schedule and needs. your personality. (Check out our guide to the best websites and apps for learning guitar.) Plus, you have more options than a kid, given that you hold the purse strings and likely have wheels.

Many adults are inclined to study on their own, and there is nothing wrong with that. But many teachers highly recommend group lessons, jams, and music camps as a way to speed up learning and have fun at the same time. (Check out our guide to planning your summer camp getaway.) The opportunity to play with just one other person can bring huge rewards. I know several parents who have decided to start playing guitar with their children, a special experience for all.

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Remember that whenever we learn something new we have to allow ourselves to be clumsy and clumsy for a while. Children are more used to it, while adults tend to focus on activities that they are familiar with and can do competently and unconsciously. Jimmy Tomasello, who teaches a wide range of guitar lessons at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, notes that “people who take adult lessons are a little insecure. And they want to be right – it’s a lie when you learn something. The more mistakes you make, the closer you get to the goals you set for yourself. So let go, take risks and most of all, enjoy the incomparable experience of learning to make music with your own hands.

More resources for adult beginner guitarists from master teachers to Acoustic guitar magazine:

the Acoustic guitar method is the only beginner’s guitar method based on traditional American music that teaches you authentic songs and techniques. From the folk, blues and old music of yesterday, rock, country and jazz of today were born. You can now begin to understand, play and enjoy these essential traditions and styles on the instrument that truly represents American music, the acoustic guitar.

You want to start playing guitar on the right foot so that you can quickly enjoy all the fun and satisfaction that music brings. This useful book is full of advice from master guitar teachers to Acoustic guitar, which shows you the right way to play chords, songs, and solos with six essential lessons and audio accompaniment. You’ll also get answers to dozens of questions about buying, owning, and starting your guitar. The best way to have fun with the world’s most popular instrument is to get some solid advice and instruction right from the start, and Teach yourself the basics of the guitar is the perfect companion to start your musical journey.

Book cover for "Teach yourself the basics of the guitar" by Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers with subtitle "Learn how to choose, buy and maintain a guitar.  Plus 6 lessons on how to play your first chords and songs"

learn guitar - information and tips for learning to play the acoustic guitar
Want more information and advice on learning to play the guitar? Click here.

How old were you when you first started playing? What tools have you found most useful to start your guitar learning journey? Give us your suggestions, stories and questions!


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