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  • rachaelinwoodmusic

Excuses for not starting to learn an instrument as an adult and how to overcome them.

When I talk to other people about my job, they often reply with regret that they hadn’t had the opportunity to learn when they were younger. When I say they can still learn now, there is usually an excuse why they can’t learn now. These are some of the most common excuses that I come across and ways to overcome them.

I don’t have the time.

A common problem many adults face is the time pressures of everyday life. What with work and family commitments, it may be hard to find the time to do regular practice.

Be honest with your teacher about your time commitments. Feeling guilty about not having time to practice will only make it harder to go back to practising. Set realistic goals with your teacher about what you can achieve with the time you have to practise. It may vary week by week. Also, see your time at an instrument as you own time. Even if it is just 10minutes, it’s 10minutes away from the list of chores around the house, or finishing the report for work.

I’m too old to learn anything new

Many older adults have less confidence in their ability to learn [1]. Maybe this is also to do with previous experiences of learning a musical instrument. However, I believe that with the right teacher and the right mindset, anyone can learn to play. It is worth looking around for a teacher that suits your learning style and personality. By the time you are an adult, you should know what kind of environment you need to learn.

I only want to learn if I’m guaranteed quick results

Some adults are often impatient and want to try to avoid practising the basic skills they need and want to go straight to learning the songs they want to play [2]. When learning something new, it is essential to get the foundations secure, to make playing the more advance pieces easier. You need to accept that there will be some time at the beginner stage, playing simple tunes while you learn the basics of your instrument and music.

I have … which means I can’t play

Many older adults health condition, such as arthritis, hearing and sight issues, that they think can hinder their learning. Many of these problems can be overcome by discussing any health conditions that could hinder learning, so their teacher can make adjustments. For example, using large-print music.

If you have always dreamt of playing a musical instrument, then with the right teacher for you and with the right mindset, you should be able to achieve that dream. Remember that learning a new skill takes time and hard work. You have to spend a lot of time at the beginner stage, but once you have grasped the basics, the more fun pieces you should find it easier to learn. Just remember to be kind to your self, and set realistic goals based on your other commitments.


[1] Serra, M. J., Dunlosky, J., & Hertzog, C. (2008). Do older adults show less confidence in their monitoring of learning? Experimental Aging Research, 379-391 [Accessed 2/10/19]

Roulston, K. (2010, November). “There is No End to Learning”:Lifelong Education and the Joyful Learner. International Journal of Music Education, 28(4), 341-352. [accessed 2/10/19]

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