I guess it’s only in the incident of growing older that it suddenly occur to most people how demotivating it is, when people say it’s too late to learn to play guitar, play the piano, or basically to excel at any skill, after passing approximately 25 years of age.
Well, it might be nerve-racking beforehand too, actually. Having barely turned twenty and believing that this is the time to shine, right now, or else it’s too late is probably just as crippling, as it were.
But, let’s face it. It’s after turning 25 or even 30 that the reality of all you should have achieved during your twenties start to hit you – hard. It doesn’t help, of course, that society keeps reminding us that it is too late for this and that, after we’ve turned thirty, forty or fifty. Yet, is it, really? Too late, I mean.
I say: No way! Why?
To make a long story, well, long:
Just a year ago, I was completing my master’s degree. I was already half a year late, and the fear of not completing my thesis (or not passing if I did) was weighing me down. Like, seriously. The writing didn’t come as natural as I had hoped, and the topic I had chosen was not very well covered in academic theory, etc. Well, quite frankly, it was a tough few month from May to December last year.
At the same time as I was doubting my own existence in Master thesis hell (friendly warning: don’t dwell on postmodern dystopias when staring into the thesis abyss, just don’t!), Chris and I had just began watching Nashville, the TV series. The music, the guitar playing, all of it, bedazzled me.
I wanted to live the life of Scarlett O’Connor, and dreamt about what could have happened if I had ever pursued a career in music (well, I almost sorta did once, but not really). And every character, literally, knew how to play the guitar. “Ah…”, I thought. “How is it that so many people know how to play the guitar, and I cannot?” I felt a nagging in my gut as I remembered my guitar given to me by my father on some sweet sixteen birthday many years ago, dusting away in the basement.
It had to be possible
A good deal of Nashville episodes later, I was convinced. It had to be possible to learn to play the guitar, even for me. Even if I had been demotivated when I tried before, because I did not see progress soon enough (or something, I reckon?). At least I remembered I had gotten a couple of chords right. Maybe if I just stuck with those for a while? So, I went down to the basement and picked up the guitar I never thought I’d use again.
I found a few lectures on Skillshare, where I learnt some v-e-r-y basic chord progressions. And practiced. And practiced. Then, practiced some more. The guitar playing came to be a very welcomed diversion from my thesis writing, and the tiny progress I made contributed to making the despair I felt in relation to my writing less painful.
And today, one year later, I’m still playing. I’m still learning, and I know more about playing the guitar than I ever thought I would.
That’s why I have written down
8 reasons to learn to play an instrument as an adult,
if you ever had any doubt as to why you should start:
1. You have more patience
They say that learning comes easier for children, but I guess that’s only true if the child has the patience to sit down and do what it takes in terms of practice to learn something properly. I know I didn’t. I think the reason why I was able to learn to play the guitar now and not earlier, was my newfound patience. Apparently, turning 30 did something with my patience skills.
2. It’s a welcomed distraction
Learning to play an instrument is a welcomed distraction from life’s chaos, chores and demands. I know someone draws parallels between playing an instrument and meditation. And I don’t think they’re wrong.
3. It gives you sense of achievement
If you take your time to learn all the details properly, and take it slow-paced, one step at a time, each little success helps you find sense of achievement.
4. Learning is good for your brain
As much as I hate to admit it, passing the 30′ mark does have an impact on the body. It feels different than before, and you don’t necessarily take good health as a given like you did earlier in life. As well as keeping our bodies fit, our brains benefit greatly from learning new tricks. So, in order to keep your mind sharp, learning a new skill such as for example the playing of an instrument, is a good bet.
5. Mastering a new skill makes other difficult tasks seem less impossible
Sometimes, learning new things feels similar to beating a dead horse, doesn’t it? In other words, impossible. We usually want to master the skill as quick as possible, and lack of progress demotivates us. But, when you put in the time and effort and actually see progress, this achievement makes other daunting things seem less out of reach. And that’s not a bad thing.
6. You may make new social relations
Remember my panicking that lead to me signing up for guitar lessons in my yearly roundup-october-post? My first lesson was two weeks ago, and today it’s my second. And now, I’m finally doing something new and exciting outside the house and meeting new people. So yes, learn a new instrument and sign up for classes or join an interest group: chances are that you’ll end up making new social relations. As adults (not that I’m really an adult…who am I kidding?), we might less often find ourselves in such situations, but learning a new skill might contribute to just that.
7. It takes you out of your comfort zone
It’s much easier to never try new things, at least then we don’t set ourselves up for failures. Am I right? Well…we don’t set ourselves up for failure, but we don’t set ourselves up for success either. It’s by trying new things that we grow, and it’s by stepping out of our comfort zone that we’re able to challenge ourselves. Without the risk of failure, we won’t risk success. And, success doesn’t have to be to become the next rockstar or whatever. Success can be to learn to play a three chord song! Each little step is a small success, and we do well to remember it.
8. You make a dream come true
Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you dreamt of playing an instrument once in your life. If you choose to pursue the learning of one, and begin to practice slow and steady, at last you’ll have made that dream come true. So, what are you waiting for? ♥︎