“At the Dallas School of Music [DSM] we’re finding more and more adults are wanting to learn music,” says DSM President Dr. Bob Lawrence, “It appears to be a combination of parents who want to learn along with their kids and older adults who are remembering how much fun they had in school band, choir, and orchestra.”
There are a many reasons that adults start or (restart!) their musical journeys. Well-documented studies prove that being engaged musically has tangible health benefits. At the website Medical News Today, an article by Sarah Glynn titled “Music Benefits Both Mental and Physical Health” explains why music reduces levels of stress and anxiety, but also points out “music increases an antibody that plays an important role in the immunity of the mucous system, known as immunoglobulin A, as well as natural killer cell counts, the cells that attack germs and bacteria invading the body.”
More recently, Dan Levitin, a professor of neuroscience at McGill University, and Glenn Schellenberg, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, identified two primary modes of brain operation: paying very close attention and daydreaming. Levitin says it’s in this “daydream” mode where almost all of our creativity happens, and where we’re able to come up with innovative solutions to problems. “Music is one of the most exquisitely effective ways of allowing you to enter the mind-wandering mode,” he says. You can read more about this idea in his forthcoming book titled The Organized Mind.
The most powerful reason for adults to play music is that it’s fun. “Most adults want just two things from their music instruction,” says longtime DSM faculty member Eugene Cantera. “Number one is to know they’re making progress and second is to have fun … and not necessarily in that order!”
Here’s some advice from DSM’s dlp (discover, learn, play) music program staff to help you get started:
Seek out a teacher who has experience working with adults.
Do your legwork on the front end here, you’ll be glad you did. Find a teacher who has the right personality for you and who can help you meet your desired musical goals. Consider whether you might work better with someone more serious who will challenge you, or someone a bit more carefree and lenient. Both approaches have their benefits for the right student.
Set realistic goals and don’t fret about practice time.
Let’s face it, we’re busier now than ever. Everyone knows the old joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice.” But practice doesn’t have to be the determining factor in whether you enjoy or benefit from your musical journey. Start with attainable practice and performance goals and don’t be afraid to adjust them as you go along. For starters, commit to attending your lessons whether you’ve practiced or not.
Beware of the short cut.
There are thousands of books, DVDs, or online destinations that promise you’ll be “playing your favorite songs in no time,” but nothing will be as effective as following a curriculum. We recommend one that includes musical basics like note reading, rhythms, scales, and even improvisation techniques—regardless of what instrument you play.
It’s never too late to start your musical journey and there’s no prior experience necessary!
Remember that the process of learning music should be fun and not stressful. One of our favorite quotes is from the late music philosopher Christopher Small who said “making music is valid at every level, from beginner to professional, children to adult, it’s participation that matters most.” This content is provided by the faculty of The Dallas School of Music; passionate teachers and online publishers of music education resources. DSM provides a variety of educational products and services for individuals as well as organizations helping people to discover, learn, and play music. Visit us at www.dsminfo.com.
For a more about what music can do for you