The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Older adults can and should start music lessons — but they must also choose the right teacher and have appropriate expectations.

March 4, 2012
12 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

A lot of my friends and acquaintances say they would like to learn to play an instrument in their retirement years.

And much as I try to convince them to start lessons, they often decline with all sorts of reasons – should I say excuses? – about how it is simply too hard to pursue music lessons at their stage of life.

And I understand because I am an adult music student myself, albeit one who resumed lessons after many years and considerable proficiency as a child and a teenager.

Well, starting or resuming music lessons, as an adult especially, can be a tricky business.

Just ask one of us.

But I have never read a better explanation of what it means to become an adult music student or how to go about becoming one than the story by Daniel J. Wakin that appeared in last Thursday’s edition of The New York Times.

For one, it used a string player – cellist Cassandra Gordon (below), now 73 — as an example, and strings are among the most challenging instruments to start later in life, or even early in life.

For another, the story was candid in covering the rewards and the challenges that adult music students face.

But the story also covered what specific traits to look for in a good and successful music teacher for adults, which is quite different from what you look for in a teacher for children.

So if you are interested, or if you know someone who is interested, is studying music as an adult, read this story. Then send on a link to the story and maybe this blog, which has also posted other stories in the past about adult music students.

Here is a link to the latest story:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/01/education/in-middle-age-reviving-dreams-of-playing-music.html

What has been your experience as ana cult music student?

Many of us would like to hear.


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