It’s not too late to learn music, today!

Debunking the myths of learning something new in later life

What do you think is the number one reason that adults are persuaded from attempting to learn to play a musical instrument? Yes, that’s right, they’ve believed the myth that it gets harder to learn an instrument as you get older!

What you need to remember is that it’s the different environmental circumstances that children and adults are in, that makes the learning environment, potentially, easier for the child to learn in.

Scot Hawkins, a piano teacher in Silver Spring, Md., says that technical ability isn’t what’s most important for adult students to get to grips with an instrument. Instead, attitude, especially patience, is everything.


Adults come in with exorbitant goals about what they can accomplish, and how quickly. We want to skip steps one through five, and get to step six. Scot Hawkins

And, unlike children, no one forces adults to practice, so they may never get around to it. But adults have advantages, too. They can see and hear things in the music that completely escape children. ¹

So, that’s where the advantage kicks in for children. They’re often forced to practice by parents, or with the knowledge that they’ll get a ‘ticking off’ by their teacher if they turn up having forgone practice over the preceding week. With adult students, such ‘whip cracking’ tends to be treated with significant incredulity! However, adults possess the analytical skills and advanced mental processes that children don’t have.

Gary Marcus: Guitar Zero

Gary Marcus: Guitar Zero

Gary Marcus, author of ‘Guitar Zero: The Science of Becoming Musical at Any Age’ is a wonderful, real life, example of an adult that has gone from zero (literally) to hero and, guess what, he’s old too! Gary, who is actually a professor of psychology, was told by all that knew and loved him that he was a musical dud and, in simple terms, would be well placed not to waste his time bothering to learn an instrument. How wrong they were.

The point is, as an adult you’ve got a lot more on your plate than the average ten year old, however, you’re smarter than the average 10 year old and ask any music teacher and they’ll tell you that mature students are, on the whole, much more patient than children with a greater ability to concentrate.

Playing an instrument is an amazing antidote for the pressure and stress of 21st Century life. As an adult, you feel this beneficial stress relief much more keenly. A few lessons in, you’ll start to ‘get it’ and will be able to feel the stresses of everyday existence melting away. That’s some serious motivation to keep you going right there.

So, what are you waiting for?!

On LearnMusic.Guide we’ve taken all of the effort out of sifting through the various online tools to get you learning to play music online quickly.

No need to wait for books in the post, you can get going today making use of the very best music learning tools that the web has to offer, at a pace that fits with your schedule. Whether you want to sing for your country or romance your loved one with the piano, you could be living the dream, and playing your favourite instrument from as little as a few months or even weeks from now.

Remember to be patient and you’ll get there. It will take you much less time to be playing at a satisfying standard than you think. Little and often, just 15 minutes a day, will be enough. You CAN do it. Millions of adults just like you have done it so what’s stopping you?


Leave comments below to tell us what you think and to motivate others!

  • This makes a lot of sense to me!

  • Claire Collier

    Really pleased to have found this site, I have wanted to learn to play the piano for years now. I thought I was probably too old now to start, but this old dog can learn new tricks!! Thanks for all your words of wisdom.

  • Derek Anchan

    I wish somebody had told me when I started patience was the key to success with any instrument. I was lucky to start early, but I agree that its imperative a learner has patience. If I had started at the age of 35, I would need more patience. Christmas always motivates me to practice a bit on the guitar. It’s really never too late to start playing any instrument. I need to set realistic goals and stick to a plan. Wonderful article to motivate not-so-young enthusiasts like me. Thanks for posting it.

  • LJ Moran

    I found this article really thought provoking as I had never thought of things this way before, being too consumed by the old proverb about teaching old dogs new tricks I had always just assumed that older people found it harder to learn new skills, as opposed to the ‘blank canvas’ of youth.
    But yes, it makes sense, from a personal point of view I am (hopefully) a more intelligent person than the ‘me’ of 25 years ago, wouldn’t it stand to sense that I would have more of a working knowledge of what it takes to learn something new now?
    The 41 year old ‘me’ knows patience, perseverance and the importance of listening carefully, surely that stands me in better stead to learn a musical instrument?
    I might just have to read Guitar Zero, it sounds like a really useful read.

  • Ivan Ivanoff

    I’ve always believed that it’s never too late to pursue your passion … Heck, Colonel Sanders was not in his early 20s, when he decided to go full-on Chicken, but now KFCs an Empire .. Not to mention Sheryl Crow, Andrea Bocelli and Susan Boyle .. It’s never too lat to become a world sensation and never too late to pick an instrument and start learning .. It’s a good thing that my belief is actually backed up by science and cudos to Gary for actually taking the time and showing how it is done .. I’ve never heard of the book before, to be honest, but I definitely want to check it out ..

  • Karen Scotland

    As an adult I like to ask questions, and I suppose I can’t be fobbed off with trivial answers or patronising platitudes of well done, from a music teacher who works with very talented children most of the time! I have tried learning the clarinet and the violin a few times in my later life but can’t say tutors have made me feel its an achievable goal. The fact this site exists and from the comments I am reading from fellow users, then it appears there are many of us wanting to try something new, especially before I lose my hearing in old age! I also worried about my hands and fingers not being as quick as they used to be, but having read the encouragement above and read some of Gary’s comments, not only will the regular practise keep my arthritic hands supple with gentle exercise but my stress levels and feelings of being past it will be minimised once I am enjoying my instrument – I may even get past twinkle twinkle little star in the book now! Shall be advised a few of my friends to read this – one has a hankering after bagpipes and the other ukulele so by all accounts we could end up as quite a trio lol (LMG has responsibility for that, should it occur!)