When I first started teaching students how to play the guitar, I never had a particular age group in mind, I always assumed that I would be teaching guitar to all ages and that was that.
But as the years have passed, I have found myself encouraging older students to continue practising, to stop doubting themselves and to not worry about other peoples opinions more so than any other age group.
So I wanted to write this article to help inspire and hopefully relieve most/all doubts the older generations have about learning the guitar.
The first issue I always see with new students, young or old, is their expectations.
There are two categories new guitar students fit into: 1. Optimistic, 2. Pessimistic.
I can confidently say that around 92 % of students fit into the pessimistic category and only 8% into the optimistic.
This is true to everyone’s nature and the way all of us as humans think and feel about the things we do, so this makes sense, but how do the optimistic come out in lessons?
Generally they do a lot better a lot sooner than the pessimist’s, instead of dwelling on a potential mistake, the optimist has made the mistake and already corrected it by the time the pessimist has even fretted a note.
But, I like to think we all know confidence is the key to success in anything and everything we do, but how do we build that? is it in the doing? in the learning? in the positive encouragement from your tutor?
All of these questions are a yes, this all builds up confidence, but the initial confidence comes from you, directly from you.
A great way to build confidence fast is to achieve goals, but to achieve goals and to know when you have achieved a goal, you must first set a goal.
This is where my company, the Norwich Guitar Academy has I believed excelled and developed into the dream I always wanted it to be, I not only set my own goals, but I also set my students goals, the tutors goals and our tutors then set their students goals.
We all know what we are heading towards and wish to achieve, perfect!
But, do not fall short on yourself as a natural pessimist, set three different range goals, one for tomorrow, one for next week then one for the more distant future.
This way, your tomorrow goal will be completed, well hopefully, today, which in turn will make you feel very accomplished which is nothing short of great!
Then, as you completed that goal, your goal for the week is now your focus, then once those two are complete, you start your short term goal process again.
Arguably, the most important part of goal setting, how big do you want your goal to be and when will it be achievable by?
Here are some examples, you have never played guitar before, so what would be a song you wish to play all the way through? this is a good term goal, this should ideally last you from one month up to a year depending on the level of the song, but this will also give you a good idea of the style you wish to play and the commitment level you are willing to put in (you’ll know if you’ve chosen a song you think will be easy rather than one of your favoured)
I want to be a rockstar, this is a brilliant long term goal, as it is affirming that the learner in fact wants to become a career musician, this is only ever a good thing, but there are so many steps in between a beginner to becoming a rockstar, that quite often we find something we take great pleasure within on the way, and this is where many musicians can fall “short” (but quite often we don’t know what makes a rockstar)
And finally, a goal I hear often and love to help students with, I wish to play in a band or play to my friends and family.
This is a wonderfully humble goal that can be achieved far sooner than we ever realise.
But within this goal setting stage of the potential super easy (play a chord) to the extreme (become a rockstar) you’ll find what you actually want from playing the guitar and therefore remove hopefully 90% of the doubts you may have previously had about beginning learning the guitar.
Now that you have set yourself a few goals for learning the guitar, the next step is to not sway.
You’re on this page for a reason, and that reason is most likely because you care enough to google whether you are too old or not right?
The most direct answer I can now give, is that you are never too old.
In fact, the older you are, the more likelihood is you have heard more music through the years and have a pretty strong feeling of what music you like, also, you don’t have studying to worry about, you hopefully don’t have money to worry about, children to worry about or any other of life’s little stresses, so you can now commit time, effort and your passion into learning the guitar more than ever before.
The guitar is not easy, but this is a great thing to embrace, you’ll be craving more knowledge, more theory, more technique & challenges like never before, the learning of an instrument is a beautiful journey that does not end.
Think about these guitarists and musicians whenever you feel doubtful of your age, and ask yourself, is it ever too late to learn guitar for these guys?
No matter how good they are, they are still learning guitar just like me and you.