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Proof That It’s Never Too Late to Learn an Instrument

There is a definite upside to being an older music student


Part of the Vitality Arts Special Report

You may think you’re too old to learn to play an instrument.

Think again.

Increasingly, older adults are letting go of the stereotype that piano lessons are for kids or it’s too late to take up drumming, according to a recent story in The Washington Post.

The story by Tara Bahrampour gives several examples of people who are “embracing musicianship later in life:”

  • Margo Thorning, who started taking drum lessons at age 70
  • Beverly Zweiben, who took her first piano lesson in her 50s
  • Susan Shand, who bought her first musical instrument — a harpsichord — at 57

Why? Because they always wanted to.

The story points out the challenges to taking up an instrument when you’re older, including coordination, memory and eyesight challenges that come with age. But there is a definite upside to being an older music student. Teachers notice that adults tend to have better motivation and focus than their kid counterparts, are better at picking up concepts and can draw on life experience that helps them learn.

“Gary Marcus, a professor of psychology and neural science at New York University who wrote a book about learning guitar at age 40, said the idea that older people can’t learn new instruments is false,” Bahrampour writes.

In other words, what are you waiting for?

By Heidi Raschke
Heidi Raschke is a longtime journalist and editor who previously was the Executive Editor of Mpls-St. Paul Magazine and Living and Learning Editor at Next Avenue. Currently, she runs her own content strategy and development consultancy.@heidiraschke
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