Updated: Apr 10, 2019
I have a thriving group of adult beginners in my studio, and I love working with them. I love hearing about their victories from the week before, their struggles, and what they're learning about themselves as they work to master this new instrument.
If a new adult student was to ask me for advice (!) on the first steps in learning any instrument, I'd want them to:
1. Rejoice in the process.
Learning an instrument well takes time. Revel in the freedom of being at the beginning - when it's perfectly acceptable to NOT be brilliant at the thing you're learning! Make a sound? That's fantastic! Remember a note? Yay! Played three notes in one breath? Superstar level! Enjoy each new step to the fullest.
2. Make mistakes.
Aim high, yes. But allow yourself to make mistakes. It's ok! Music is language meets sport - learning a new system plus the physical aspect of getting around an instrument = a lot to process at once. Think of how long you had to practise speaking before you mastered English's basic sounds, words and grammar. Make your mistakes so you can learn; a musician who has never made a mistake is a musician who has never played.
3. Take your time.
Slow down. Our brains are often lightyears ahead of our bodies in this. Work slowly through each new skill and learn it well, with a lot of careful repetition. It'll save you a LOT of time later, as you won't have to go back and fix that technique that you will wish you'd learned correctly in the first place.
4. Be patient with yourself.
You'll have good days and bad ones. Some days, your fingers will respond exactly they way you ask them to, and others you'll stare at them wondering why they won't behave. Some days, you'll feel as if you've mastered All the Skills, and others you'll wonder if you even remember how to put the instrument together properly. Meet yourself where you're at today, and move forward from there.
Find a group to play in or ask your teacher to set you up with another student at a similar level. Once you have the basic tone production and notes/rhythms down, it'll give you an external reason to keep practising, and inspire you to push on when you hit the difficult spots.
But really, the number one thing - just start. Jump in, the water's warm!
Have other things you wish you'd been told when you started? Send a message: firstname.lastname@example.org.