Studies show that the older one gets, the more difficult it is to add skills to an already full brain. However, we have seen time after time that musicians prove this wrong! Brahms didn’t write his first symphony until age 40. Wes Montgomery (known as one of the greatest jazz guitarists of all time) didn’t pick up a guitar until his twenties. Bill Withers (“Lean On Me”, “Ain’t No Sunshine”) didn’t begin until his thirties. It is absolutely possible! Here are some tips we have to allow greater success in learning the guitar (specifically) once adulthood is in full force.
One common area for failure here is going into the journey of learning guitar thinking that you’ll practice for three hours every night. You are busy, and there is usually no way that this could happen! Instead of having this expectation for yourself that you will practice every spare minute of the day, I advise you to instead map out practice times throughout the week that are extremely accessible. For example, maybe one day per week you get home a half-hour before your spouse. Perfect time to set aside! Maybe you have an extra long lunch break one day of the week. Consider bringing your guitar to work that day and practicing then! Plan these slots out before the week begins so that you’re not leaving it to chance when you’ll practice.
Don’t do this alone.
I can say this from experience as well - when we try to pick up a massive goal on our own (such as learning guitar!), we get frustrated and play less frequently just because we don’t have anyone to keep us accountable. That being said, a private teacher is an excellent way to obtain an accountability partner; even just a friend that also plays would be a big help! Trust us, you need someone that actually knows that you are learning guitar and can ask you about your progress along the way. (Bonus points if you send them periodic videos of your current playing.)
Define your goals before starting.
Have you always dreamed of playing like Eddie Van Halen? Like Jimi Hendrix? Like Pat Metheny? Do some research first into what made that guitarist so unique. Study their technique, their approach to the guitar sound contributing to the band, or their writing for the guitar individually. Set goals based on that approach, and work slowly. By making them time-based, you have an extra motivator! For example, one great goal would be “I will be able to play four chords in a rock style within x-months, meaning I can play along with a certain song.”
Make sure you’re having fun!
To be honest, you won’t get very far on the guitar if you’re not having fun doing it. Learning guitar for the first time is very hard. Very, very hard. Don’t be like many adults and take the fun out of learning an instrument; it’s supposed to be a pleasurable thing! Therefore, celebrate every small victory and recognize yourself for every milestone passed. Make fun of yourself while you’re at it!
You are taking a very noble journey by learning the guitar as an adult, but it is completely worth it! Our hope is that you find it a truly enjoyable experience, even though what you are doing is difficult. We also stand ready to help you through any difficulty or issue you might have; just give us a call! Good luck, and HAVE FUN!
- Tyler Long, Administrative Assistant/Music Instructor at Vibe Music Academy.