“What is the best age to learn an instrument” is probably a question that goes through any person’s mind somewhere during their lives. Each age has great advantages that other age groups don’t have. Today we will look at the advantages and disadvantages of learning an instrument during the different phases of our lives.
As soon as a child reaches the age of 10 years old we’ve found that it’s the best age to start learning an instrument. The child is then old enough to decide the instrument and music genre themselves. Their cognitive skills have developed well enough to understand music theory, and they are responsible enough to practice independently.
If this sounds like it might be your case and you are unsure about which instrument to pick for your child, then don’t miss the post I wrote about comparing the 6 most popular instruments for kids to learn to see if it could guide you to making a clearer decision.
I can remember my first encounter with an instrument when I was about 7 years old. My mom kept her valuable Fender acoustic guitar under her bed. Every time I was home alone, I would take the chance to visit and admire this amazing piece. I knew that it was powerful, but I could only stare at how perfect it was.
I often practised air guitar with a plectrum in my hand, and also picked a few of its un-tuned strings while it was laying in its box. It was a part of the journey of my “falling in love with music and instruments” which I know today made a difference in my adulthood.
I knew that when I am older, I would love to learn the art of performing music. Sadly, not many boys my age practised music those days. We all participated in team sports, so I didn’t really get the chance to learn at that age.
It was not before I was 16 years old that I decided that the time has arrived and I would like to get the basics down and go for a few lessons with this amazing Fender, which was the start of my journey.
So, with all the willingness and experiences I’ve collected along the way, let’s take a look at the different phases of life and see what one can expect when learning an instrument for the first time during that age. I interviewed kids and their music teachers to hear find the information from the horses’ mouths.
Learning an instrument as an Adult
I have plenty of respect for adult learning instruments. It will take extra dedication and sacrifice to practice and get better. As an adult, you are used to a routine and being good at what you do and try to leave challenging things to those who are already good at it.
But as an adult, you want to learn an instrument because of you! Perhaps a childhood dream or your love of music. As we get older, there’s less music we like on the radio, and we would like to learn how to play songs from your era.3
This is absolutely possible:
- Step 1: Get your instrument. Just do it. Have some spare cash or save enough money for a musical instrument.
- Step 2: Find the time in your schedule. Between your job and time with your family, find one space in your program per week for a lesson, and at least 2 slots for about 40 minutes for practice.
- Step 3: Find your music teacher. We can learn everything online, but having a face-to-face lesson once a week is still the best way to progress faster. Check online or at your local newspaper. My tip would be to ask at music shops. They often cooperate with music teachers who could allow you to buy gear at a discounted price.
- Step 4: Build your new hobby into your routine. You built the perfect base for your hobby to be launched. Stabilize this by sticking to your 3 appointments with your instrument. You are lucky if you can up your practice time, which is not possible for everyone.
- Step 5: After a few months of hard work and dedication, start practising with another musician on your level. This might mean adding another space of time to your program, but you would start to like it so much that it won’t be a problem. Practising with another person broadens your horizon and opens up the door to learning more skills.
- Step 6: Join a band. This might sound scary, but after the first gig, you will know what to expect and why you have dedicated so much time to learning it.
If this is for you, then don’t miss the post I wrote about “At which ability level you should be joining a band?” You will be amazed by how soon you will be ready for your first performance.
The advantages of learning an instrument as an adult
The biggest advantage is that you will have some money to buy your own gear and pay for your own lessons. So you have full control over what you are in for.
You are able to choose your practice friends and band members freely.
You are able to attend music concerts and shows of your choice regularly. This is important to stay inspired and to stay motivated.
Your brain is developed and you will be able to manage a bigger workload faster. This includes learning new skills and getting used to your instrument.
The disadvantages of learning an instrument as an adult
You have kids and a settled family relying on you and you might need to move exercising your hobby to a later stage. Practising at night or over weekends could be a good solution. See practising as a part of meditation after work and use it to reload instead as extra stress.
Your day job has busier and more unpredictable phases.
With bigger hands and thicker fingers, you might feel frustrated at the start. This will get better the more you practice and your accuracy improves.
This post was written and posted by De Wet from startingmyband.com on 28.01.2023. The content was stolen from me if this blog post is seen anywhere else.
Learning an instrument as an 18-25-year-old (Student)
This is such a cool phase since you are studying and all your friends are anyway going out regularly. It’s like you have your own following already and you can just jump in and entertain them.
The advantages of learning an instrument as an 18-25-year-old (Student)
You can choose your own instrument to learn.
You have enough time on your hands to practice.
Learning your instrument and lessons is freely available on the internet.
Plenty of young adults play instruments which makes it easy to put bands together. If you are keen to put a band together, don’t miss the post I wrote about How to find committed band members. Networking and having loyal people that share your musical vision are valuable!
You are usually satisfied with smaller payments for performances to get a foot in the door.
Building a following is easier since your friends go out regularly and would see your shows as a reason to go out and celebrate. You also know your way around social media that’s a valuable tool to sell tickets and fill up venues.
The disadvantages of learning an instrument as an 18-25-year-old (Student)
You might be broke often and gear will be hard to find on a budget.
Band members join and leave more often which makes it hard to keep a band together.
You would like to see progress quickly since you would like to play with your friends. If this is you, then don’t miss the blog post I wrote about The easiest instrument to learn to start your band now. It might guide you to suitable solutions. To me, one should play in a band and perform as soon as one feels mentally ready after a start.
Learning an instrument as a 14-18-year-old (Highschool)
This is a phase where you think you might know what’s best for you, but it’s crucial to surround yourself with positive influences and motivational and positive adults.
Learn and use your skills to influence others and not the other way around.
The advantages of learning an instrument as a 14-18-year-old (Highschool)
You have plenty of friends and people that support you.
You will have time for regular lessons and be able to progress faster with plenty of practice time.
You will have more appreciative crowds since people are supportive of younger musicians.
Your peers will be impressed with your skills and it will help you climb social ranks as a teenager.
The disadvantages of learning an instrument as a 14-18-year-old (Highschool)
Cash could be a problem. Just look well after your current gear and make it last.
Performance opportunities will be hard to come by. You might not be allowed to perform in pubs or clubs. If you are religious, try the church band for regular gig time. Another option might be performance nights at your music school.
Getting around is a challenge. If you want to perform or play with some friends, you will be dependent on someone with a car if your wished destination is too far to cycle and you live somewhere without proper city infrastructure.
Learning an instrument as a 10-14-year-old (Middle School)
The make-or-break phase for learning an instrument. If a youngster started learning it already at a younger age and they fell in love with it, then during this phase of your life you will be able to flourish and stand out amongst the others.
The other side of the coin is that if you were struggling and felt forced to practice, or you don’t have appropriate role models playing this instrument, you might end up quitting somewhere during this phase.
The advantages of learning an instrument as a 10-14-year-old (Middle School)
You are able to decide which instrument you would like to learn by yourself.
Your brain is developed well enough so that you can understand music theory well. You will be able to read and write the theory and get short pieces of homework to cover at home.
Other artists would be able to inspire you. You can follow various musicians.
The disadvantages of learning an instrument as a 10-14-year-old (Middle School)
Feeling obligated to practice and not waste money.
You usually get taught the songs and music that the music teachers enjoy or are comfortable with.
The school work gets more challenging and the pressure gets more.
Not as much free time and the free you have goes mainly to socialising.
Learning an instrument as a 6-10-year-old (Elementary school)
This is the phase where our kids learn how to be responsible and independent. It is also important that we give them our trust and allow them to make decisions for themselves. This allows them to grow and develop better and faster in their school work and to learn an instrument.
The key aspect here is to choose the right instrument to focus on together. Take a look at this post I published about Comparing various instruments for kids to see if any of them would suit you and your child best.
I also wrote another article about finding a suitable instrument that will fit into your daily life with some key factors to consider. The key here is to consider your environment and routine and open discussions with your child before you make the choice.
The advantages of learning an instrument as a 6-10-year-old (Elementary school)
Lessons can take place in duos which are motivating to play with a partner.
Learning an instrument at this age will stimulate your child’s mental functioning and help the development of the brain to improve their academic performance. If you would like to read more about some of the case studies I have experienced first-hand, don’t miss the post I wrote about “Do students who play an instrument do better in school?”
The disadvantages of learning an instrument as a 6-10-year-old (Elementary school)
Kids get tired when the lessons are too long. They might have an overwhelming daily program and a big block of music could end up frustrating them and make them feel like they miss out on other things. Balance the music time out with movement activities in between.
Not being able to honestly choose their own instrument because of their need to please their parents.
Learning an instrument as a 4-6-year-old (Pre-school)
For these kids learning instruments are just an experiment with different sounds. The more they can shake or drum, the better. This should be an activity where they can loosen up and connect instruments with a positive, less-controlled feeling.
It is an important stage to learn how to control my needs and think about how a unit might sound. Good music teachers coordinate this nicely and the kids enjoy this thoroughly.
The advantages of learning an instrument as a 4-6-year-old (Pre-school)
The music theory is not relevant yet and the lesson experience is a playful and social one.
Group lessons are the most popular type of music lessons and the kids will explore with plenty of rhythms and acoustic instruments.
Excellent fine motor skill development and you get an early feeling for music to be ahead of your peers.
The disadvantages of learning an instrument as a 4-6-year-old (Pre-school)
Small groups can get tough to handle for one person. Experienced music teachers also call in support of these types of lessons.
Learning skills are very challenging and fine motor skills would only be developed in the next few years. This could lead to boredom and frustration.
There are many reasons why kids quit music during their lives, and to be aware and prevent it from happening I would recommend that you read the article I wrote about The main reasons why kids end up quitting their instruments.
It is possible and fun to learn a musical instrument during each phase of life. It’s never too late to start and enjoy the rewards that it offers.
If you have any other advantages or disadvantages, please add them to the comments below. This article will grow over time since research continues.
I hope this article was helpful to you. There’s no reason to wait before you learn.
Good luck with your journey!