In active adult communities across the country, retirees are learning that it is never too late to start music lessons. In fact, retirement can be an ideal time to renew an interest in a long-forgotten instrument or pick up an entirely new musical skill.
Parents often encourage their children to take up music lessons of some kind. Likewise, school programs strive to introduce music to all students. Not all children immediately take to music lessons. Perhaps they are too busy with other interests, have trouble sustaining the concentration to practice, or simply haven’t yet gained an appreciation for music. The musical seeds that were sewn in youth often do take hold later in life.
Unfortunately, many would-be music students realize their desire to learn an instrument after the responsibilities of adulthood have already taken up most of their time. According to a 2000 Gallup survey commissioned by NAAM - International Music Products Association on "American's Attitudes Toward Music, Music Making and Music Education", 85 percent of the adults surveyed wished they had learned to play a musical instrument.
Some adults do find a way to balance music lessons with career and raising a family, yet the vast majority of adults who would like to play an instrument think that they have missed their chance. They simply do not have the time to practice and the money they could spend on an instructor is already being spent for their children’s lessons and activities.
When empty nesters and retirees finally have the time to take music lessons, they may fear that they are too old to learn. However, older adults who begin music lessons not only enjoy the lessons, but report a perceived improvement in memory and mental clarity. Music teachers often prefer to teach adults, as they are frequently able to grasp the concepts more quickly and concentrate on the lesson much more easily than their child counterparts.
Charles Agel, a piano and guitar teacher in Virgina, adds, “Adult students are dedicated. They understand the value of time. Children look at practicing as a chore, whereas adults understand that the time spent practicing will yield results.” Learning to sing or play a musical instrument can also be a great social activity.
Many active adult communities have active choral groups, piano and organ clubs, or jazz bands. For example, in Arizona, Sun City by Del Webb offers a piano club, women’s chorus, and a Musician’s Club which includes their Chamber Orchestra and Choraliers of Sun City groups. By playing with others, residents share their love of music and enhance their own learning.
In addition to the mental and social benefits of learning a musical instrument, active adults can simply enjoy playing music for its own sake. As with any new activity, music lessons are challenging, stimulating, and just plain fun.