It is never too late to start!

Start playing an instrument “late”, is it possible? As neuroscience continues to point to the benefits of early musical practice, what about our abilities as adults?

Anything is possible at any age, just exercise regularly and don’t rush anything. »Claudine He works as a tuba and piano teacher at Clermond-Ferrand. In my forty years of work, I’ve found that children’s and adults’ learning is done the same way. ” Whether you’re eight or forty, results depend on talent, intelligence, hard work, and passion. A 35-year-old middle school principal manages to play through hard work The Turkish March Mozart after only 6 months, without skipping steps. Claudine also remembers this constructive woman who took up the piano after retirement, managing to make headway despite osteoporosis and a small, inflexible hand. “Sometimes the technical means of the student can be limited, but it is up to the teacher to adapt ‘, she believes. By choosing an appropriate repertoire, technically accessible, and musically rewarding, for example.

Can we learn at any age?

But then, what about our cognitive abilities? Is the belief that adults learn more slowly justified? Do their cognitive abilities really diminish as they age? This is only partially true, as recent scientific research has shown: Brain plasticity – the brain’s ability to reshape and stimulate itself according to the environment, is not limited to childhood. Norman Weinberger, A neuroscientist at the University of Irvine in California was among the first to work on the auditory system and the brain. his conclusions Final:

Many people think that the brain loses its flexibility after puberty. This is not so, the brain retains its ability to change. Is something as easy to learn at age 65 as it was at age 5? no. But can we get there? yes. »

It is clear that our brain is capable of learning throughout our lives. ” Playing music can be a challenge to cognitive skills, it is the “muscles” of the brain and makes it more adaptable to the changes that occur with age.” Brenda Hanna Blady, MD, a neurologist at Emory University School of Medicine Live Science. ” Because playing a musical instrument requires years of training and learning, it can create new connections in the brain that compensate for the cognitive decline caused by aging. »

So if there is a desire, you can do it, but not without difficulty, like any novice musician. Carol He started playing the piano at the age of sixty. According to her, an adult makes up a lot thanks to his experience and ability to highlight himself: “ We have a less receptive mind, that’s for sure, but we have an analytical method and approach that compensates for the focus effort required from the brain. I applied the method I used as a typist to decode notes and save them in different keys, translate them on the keyboard and connect the corresponding fingers. It’s really quite complicated, and the effort it takes on me can quickly become frustrating. But I know it’s an essential step that allows me to play, and the fact that I hear myself translating even simple tracks gives me real pleasure. »

In addition to leisure, can a musical practice that began so late in life turn into a real profession? Yes, according to a certificate Marker, who started playing the guitar as a self-actualizer at the age of sixteen. He learned by tradition, playing rock or French songs with high school friends. Over time, the guitar occupied a prominent place in his life and he decided to make it his job. At the age of thirty he entered the Interdenominational Conservatory in Flers, his home city, and followed a full course in musical instrument theory. ” Incorporating the conservatory seemed to me necessary, in order to structure my knowledge and prepare myself more to be able to open up to other genres. It was like learning to read and write in a language I learned to speak, a new freedom. I rediscovered my instruments in a new light: approaching a classical guitar is something completely different from a technical point of view and sound quality. As adults, we may learn more slowly, but we have a different quality of listening and a long experience with music, so that we can better set our goals. Today Mark is making a musical awakening in schools and hospitals. His path as a musician, he said, was no more difficult than if he had started playing guitar at a young age.

Fun at the heart of pedagogy

Fun is at the core of adult pedagogy, according to Marie Liz, piano teacher at Bourges. According to her, a teacher’s main goal should be to make them want to play, and she does not hesitate to adapt to the musical tastes of her adult students _._ ” With adults, the outcome should be instant, they can recognize the track, and play something that makes sense to them. I often start with a simple adaptation ofSong of joy, a piece that everyone knows, but I do not hesitate to adapt other topics that can address my students. Obviously, this requires more work for the teacher, but it is still necessary.»

Especially since most of the “Great Students” come to music to fulfill a childhood dream once they’ve settled into a career, or when they retire. Some like to closely follow their children’s progress as they begin to practice an instrument, or even play with them. Unlike children, adults are often tempted by musical practice per se, and do not hesitate to go for less common instruments. Florence He is a viola teacher in Dieppe and often sees adults choosing the viola over the violin: ” The violin remains a little-known instrument, but it seduces with its less glowing timbre compared to the violin. Adults really figure out the tool, they do not have a priori, they do not know the ammunition, and besides this is not what interests them in the first place. They want to fit the instrument, learn to play it, are happy to play in a group, but are more practicing than discovering business. »

A good dose of psychology

And what is the explanation? Can adult beginners easily carry music? For Marie-Lese, a piano teacher, teaching adults is smarter and less intuitive. It is up to the teacher to carefully balance the adult’s personality and abilities so as not to permanently hinder him. ” The child does not ask many questions, the adult plans for himself all the time. This is an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time: the adult anticipates the efforts that must be made to obtain a result, and on the other hand at the level of interpretation, he asks himself more and it is difficult to break barriers. Adults are often more nervous when playing in public, for example. To teach music to an adult, you need to be a good psychologist and a passionate teacher. »

Awareness of the issues and fear of making a mistake can be very discouraging. “I think my generation learned to avoid doing stupid things, which is not the case for today’s generations, says Carol, a young retired pianist. Young people go to him, not me, and I dare much less. This availability makes them understand faster. In my case, the pressure is much greater. »

Remove the drama to fit the machine, a job that takes a lot more time with an adult than with a child, whatever the machine, which sometimes translates to a more complex relationship with adult bodies. ” The viola is a demanding tool from an attitude and listening point of view: it takes about three years of practice before the work begins to give results. For adults, approaching a musical instrument is a whole process that involves physical and psychological work, Florence, Viola’s teacher, explains. “Mastering a musical instrument sometimes goes beyond musical practice, some students come out of it variable. Learning to listen, to listen to oneself, to relax and to liberate the body is something similar. for some people The real cure. Obstacles are difficult to remove, they require a lot of reassurance. I often resort to active methods – DalcruzAnd the CaudalieColor Strings – whose techniques, designed for children, can be used by adults for a more global approach to music. »

Amateur instrumentalists represent fertile ground that should have easier access to musical practice, says Florence: “ When we begin to learn a musical instrument as an adult, we often do more than just play music, we are faced with social codes and an environment where everything is unknown to us, and people who embark on such an approach go to great lengths to make it happen. »

She cites the example of a great student who joined the viola after hearing André Rio at a concert. It was only after she joined the conservatory that she discovered that practicing instruments comes with learning to write music, for example. ” Music breaks down barriers better than any other medium and brings different worlds together. Conservatories still have to do a great deal of work to open up and adapt more to an amateur audience, Says.


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