No musician starts out as a rock star. Yet sometimes, when we think about picking up that dusty guitar again or learning how to play piano as an adult, it can seem daunting.
We watch our teenage son get his first set of drums or our granddaughter sing in her church choir… and a part of us yearns to swap places with them for a second and enjoy the freedom that music can bring.
Making music and enjoying the incredible physical, mental, and social benefits of music is an amazing and essential part of life—whether you are fourteen, forty, or sixty-four.
You are never too old to learn how to play a musical instrument, sing, or learn new skills. Many community centers offer free music and music therapy classes, and even video games like Rock Band or Wii Music can help you enjoy music-making at any age. For many who have survived the challenges of raising a family, working a job until retirement, and learning the new normal of their golden years, this may actually be the perfect time to play in that band, tour with a choir, take ballroom dancing, or write a first song!
Music-making is good for your body
As we age, our dexterity and strength begin to waver, memory fades, and hearing weakens. Older beginner musicians benefit from engaging in musical activities whether they decide to pick up piano lessons, sing in the local choir, or release a solo album at the age of sixty-five.
Working on simple music skills like singing, ear training, keyboard playing, and music memory skills all have intrinsic benefits. As well as those adults starting music-making for the first time, musicians who have played their entire lives or taken a break from music and returned to it later in life will benefit from the many positive effects of music-making in their lives.
As someone who worked with Elvis Presley, seventy-year-old Norbert Putnam explained, “What’s great about [playing music] is, it keeps you healthy. Instead of taking a nap after lunch every day, I’m hitting it in the studio every day.”
Putman and his sixty-eight year old bassist David Hood enjoy working with musicians of every age. The old idea that after fifty there is nothing to do but watch life from the sidelines is an antiquated notion which most adults today happily ignore!
“Instead of taking a nap after lunch every day, I’m hitting it in the studio every day.”
A quick look at professional musicians touring today reveals that age has done nothing to stop legends like Jimmy Buffett, ZZ Top, the Rolling Stones, and U2 from touring, performing, and meeting fans with as much gusto as they did decades before.
Worried that you haven’t grown up as a naturally “gifted” musician and it may be too late? The truth is that anyone can learn to perform music well, even if they lack “natural” talent.
Side note: Anyone who says that they just have “natural talent” is lying. We all have to work very, very hard to succeed at music regardless of inherent talent… Talent alone doesn’t create best-selling albums!)
What are the physical benefits of music for the mature beginner? Music can reduce hypertension and stress, helping the body relax and avoid some of the more common cardiac problems associated with ageing. Music triggers memory and combats dementia while also helping in the recovery process from illness. Singing lowers your blood pressure and soothing music can relax your body.
In a nutshell: a healthy amount of music will make you healthy!
Music-making is good for your spirit – and your social life!
Life at sixty looks so much different than life at thirty. Most of us are past the child-rearing insanity that occupied much of our earlier adult life. Maybe you are surrounded by grandchildren or like many adults, find that distance or busy schedules has left you alone most days.
Participating in a musical group helps you connect to like-minded creative artists and enthusiasts. Many music ensembles don’t care if you’ve played the violin for three months or since you were three years old—because it is about performance and musical enjoyment, not perfection.
Musical performance can strengthen relationships, as when an adult musician performs a live concert where friends and family participate. When you see someone you love giving their all in a musical performance, there is something magical in sharing that very personal and vibrant part of their lives with them.
“It is about performance and musical enjoyment, not perfection.”
Music performance also produces social benefits like enjoying a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of fulfilment when playing music with friends. Soothing music sessions help combat illness and focus memory. Playing and listening to music reduces the level of cortisol in your body, leading to a decrease in stress. Playing music with others has also been proven to increase social bonding between friends.
Music increases your enjoyment of life and helps nurture relationships and enhance your mood.
How do I start making music as an adult?
Singing is one of the most accessible ways to express yourself musically. Most of us enjoy singing alone in the shower or the car, but actively learning to sing has many benefits including exercising our throat muscles as we age, keeping the mind mentally active and helping with maintaining better breath support overall.
Research has even shown that singing can help stroke victims that have lost some speech ability by giving them a new way to vocalize and express themselves. If you want some guidance with developing your singing and learning how to work on your music skills, you can try Easy Ear Training’s free Ear Training Course to develop your musical ear training skills. You are never too old to learn a new skill like this!
“Learning how to play an instrument or sing can be fun, but it is almost always more fun in a group.”
If you want to pick up an instrument or get reacquainted with your trusted guitar, take a few lessons at the local music store or enjoy free music lessons online from sites like the Beginner Guitarist Academy or PianoLessons.com. Learn how to play by ear with easy tips and exercises with the Playing By Ear page here on EasyEarTraining.com. And for those that want to pick up a set of sticks, check out FreeDrumLessons.com for instructional videos for beginning drummers.
Learning how to play an instrument or sing can be fun, but it is almost always more fun in a group. So find other musicians in your area and start a band. Sing in the church choir. Or find some friends to get together with to just jam, late into the night.