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Thread: Why is learning music or a musical instrument hard as an adult?

  1. #21
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    Because... science!



    Also, apart from things like neuron clusters and brain plasticity and other sciency stuff, kids simply have more time to practice new skills and fewer responsibilities to distract them.

    So... it’s really not so much a case of being a whole lot harder to learn new skills as an adult as it is a case of it being more inconvenient to do so.


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  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by janeray1940 View Post
    Definitely not true for me - my dad tried to teach me ukulele, and I took piano, guitar, bass and voice as a kid, and never learned a thing beyond being able to sort-of read standard notation and keep time. I think this was mostly because I didn't have the patience to put in the time to practice and learn. I'm a lot less impatient as a middle-aged adult and in the 8+ years I've played uke, I've never considered it "hard." Challenging at times, but it's "stuck" in a way that it never did when I was young.

    They say the same thing about learning languages, something I've always had a knack for - that if it's much harder to learn a new language as an adult. Again, I have never found this to be the case, and I find learning music to be very similar to learning a language.
    I agree that learning a language and learning to play an instrument have a lot in common. Many years ago I got talked into a gig teaching home schooled kids how to speak Spanish for a year. That experience proved to me that kids don't just pick up a language because they are kids, at least in a classroom setting. But I guess it is also possible that I'm not a great teacher. I mean, my most important qualification for teaching them was that I had no qualifications to teach. But that is just a whole other conversation.

    But just in my own case, I didn't learn much of anything until I was well into adulthood. But I wonder if that is the reason so many retired people take up playing a musical instrument? Lots of time on their hands, no job to get in the way, no kids to contend with, nothing more pressing to do. I'm thinking that when it comes to learning, old people and kids have a lot in common.
    Last edited by Rllink; 10-06-2018 at 07:03 AM.
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  3. #23
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    I find the opposite to be true. I think I learn much faster now than when I was younger.

    What I did have then, that I don't have now is..... endless time to practice and parents to pay for teachers to help me along.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rllink View Post
    ........But just in my own case, I didn't learn much of anything until I was well into adulthood. But I wonder if that is the reason so many retired people take up playing a musical instrument? Lots of time on their hands, no job to get in the way, no kids to contend with, nothing more pressing to do. I'm thinking that when it comes to learning, old people and kids have a lot in common.
    Time - yes - & to keep the old grey cells active.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  5. #25
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    I think motivation is the most important factor in learning anything.

    I would have loved to have "endless time" as a kid or young adult (or ever). Being the black sheep, I even dealt with parents who put limits on my violin practicing, because they didn't think so much time spent by myself in the basement was healthy for a child, or something (shrug). Any homework had to be finished first. I also come from an era where kids were expected to do their share of the household chores. Soon, there was the desire to earn spending money - so enter babysitting, lawn mowing, fence painting, etc. Then at 17 I was on my own, and had to get jobs to support myself.

    Of necessity, I learned ways to maximize the practice time I had as efficiently as was possible. I had decided when I was 9 that I wanted to be a pro musician when I grew up, so "that was that", and I strove after that goal until I attained it.

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  6. #26
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    If it is hard then you aren't having any fun.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by captain-janeway View Post
    lypfer: I'm trying to teach myself music too. I'd like to be able to basically read it and do my own tabs without having to write it all down.
    I found it very useful to limit myself to tunes with just eight or nine notes initially, so, in ukulele terms, nothing above the fifth fret. With a little research I found myself a repertoire of around 2000 tunes in this category ... I still haven't played all of them

    I also found it very useful to limit myself, initially, to tunes in "easy" keys, just one or two sharps or flats, transposing as necessary to remain within this range, then slowly work up to both extending my note range up the fretboard and introducing "extra" sharps or flats as required. It may not be "good musical practice", but it's how my mind works and I've been able to extend this "method" of learning across several stringed and woodwind instruments.

    Check out Jack Campin's "Nine-Note Tunebook" http://www.campin.me.uk/ or tunes that have been arranged for the Scottish bagpipes ... these will probably need to be transposed down, as they're usually written for an "A" scale with a low G, unless your ukulele is tuned "low-G", of course
    Last edited by kypfer; 10-06-2018 at 10:17 PM. Reason: afterthought
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  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by kypfer View Post
    I found it very useful to limit myself to tunes with just eight or nine notes initially, so, in ukulele terms, nothing above the fifth fret. With a little research I found myself a repertoire of around 2000 tunes in this category ... I still haven't played all of them

    I also found it very useful to limit myself, initially, to tunes in "easy" keys, just one or two sharps or flats, transposing as necessary to remain within this range, then slowly work up to both extending my note range up the fretboard and introducing "extra" sharps or flats as required. It may not be "good musical practice", but it's how my mind works and I've been able to extend this "method" of learning across several stringed and woodwind instruments.

    Check out Jack Campin's "Nine-Note Tunebook" http://www.campin.me.uk/ or tunes that have been arranged for the Scottish bagpipes ... these will probably need to be transposed down, as they're usually written for an "A" scale with a low G, unless your ukulele is tuned "low-G", of course
    Thanks. It's driven me a little nuts to try and play with something on YouTube or whatever that was in a key other than C. Sounds godawful, though doesn't sound bad by itself. Still working on that wretched E chord to play in A.
    Along with arpeggios, etc, I've just kind of picked one song to bang away at until I am really good at it.

  9. #29
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    For the same reason that learning everything is hard as an adult. If a family moves to a foreign country, the kids will learn the language before the adults do, and they won't have an accent. The brain ages, just like the joints and the lungs and the memory.

    I think the real reason is that their brains are empty, so it's easier to fit stuff in. Adult brains are like a crowded hard drive. All the data gets fragmented and spread all over.
    Last edited by Jerryc41; 10-08-2018 at 03:15 AM.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerryc41 View Post
    For the same reason that learning everything is hard as an adult. If a family moves to a foreign country, the kids will learn the language before the adults do, and they won't have an accent. The brain ages, just like the joints and the lungs and the memory.

    I think the real reason is that their brains are empty, so it's easier to fit stuff in. Adult brains are like a crowded hard drive. All the data gets fragmented and spread all over.
    This just makes sense. I agree.
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