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Difference Between Folks Who Started as Youth vs Adults

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jive1, Mar 22, 2016.

  1. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    From reading threads, and years in the lower rungs of the music business, I've noticed a difference between folks who started playing music in their youth vs those who started when they were grown-ups. There have been psychological studies done in how those two groups differ in how they experience music, with more cross hemispheric activity happening among those who started playing an instrument in their youth. Those who took up an instrument as adults tend to have more brain activity in one hemisphere.

    In my experience, those who took up an instrument as an adult tend to have a more cognitive approach to music, and often work a band in a more 'grown-up' way. Whereas those who took up an instrument as youth tend to have a more emotional approach, and work a band in a more 'creative' or 'passionate' way. IMO, neither one is inherently better than the other, and both have their strengths that can propel a band. Neither one is more 'serious' or 'legit' than the other, and both can be detrimental to a band if pushed to an extreme.

    Any thoughts?
  2. Icemanaroonie


    Sep 6, 2015
    Do you have links to these studies handy? I'd be interested to see where they draw the line between youth and adult. I started playing at 20, that seems to be close to the line between youth and adult.
    3Liter likes this.
  3. Kun2112


    Nov 2, 2013
    I started on another instrument at age 10. Didn't even touch a bass until 20. I learned music in a structured environment, and applied that "approach" to bass. I've declined several gigs because the audition rehearsals were "seat of pants" type affairs, and left more than one band because of excessive goofing off during rehearsal. To me there is a huge difference between "playing in a band" and "playing band."
  4. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I was classically trained as a child. No kidding, I had a piano teacher who would slap my wrists for improper technique, and I had to stand in front of a University panel giving oral answers to theory questions at 8 years old. When I was around 18, I sang in front of a bunch of my peers, and I was shy, and was ridiculed, and abandoned music for a life of partying and insanity, and when I took up guitar in my mid/late twenties, I had a completely different approach.
    So I learned music as a child AND as an adult.
    What does THAT do for your precious theories?
  5. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    Eh, I think it really just comes down to the individual.
  6. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    I thought the idea that cognitive thought exists in one hemisphere and emotional/creative thought existed in the other had been thourougly debunked by science.
  7. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Yep.....although I initially read jive's post as "brain activity" as measured by EEG, perhaps? But then came the left brain/right brain emotional/rational dichotomy to muddy the waters! :)
  8. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I wish I knew what the studies were. It was something I heard on NPR a while back.
    I started noticing this from playing bands in my mid 20s. It seemed that the folks who played instruments in their youth had something different than those who took it up as adults. I started playing piano at 11, and moved to bass when I was 16 or 17. From about age 25 or so, I started noticing that the folks who played music at an earlier age clicked a little more with each other than the ones who first picked up an instrument at 19 or later. It's really hard for me to describe what it was. For lack of better words, folks who started playing when they were kids were more likely to play with reckless abandon. If that makes any sense... I dunno. Anyway, I continue to see that gap widen now that I'm in my 40s.
    pjbassist likes this.
  9. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Never used the words 'emotional' or 'rational'. I used 'grown-up' which is not always rational, and 'creative' and 'passionate' which is not always emotional.
    powmetalbassist likes this.
  10. alembicguy

    alembicguy I operate the worlds largest heavey equipment Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    I tend to agree and would also bring in upbringing and environment.
  11. Interesting idea you've raised. Perhaps it's akin to native tongue (childhood) vs second language (learned as adult).
  12. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    You never know if hypotheses like these are true without massive sample sizes and normally, controlled experiments. So, all I am left with is anecdotal evidence. In my case, I approach music in a very adult way. I write in a very rational way and it seems to be working based on audience reaction. I started when I was about 14 playing in bands and 40 years later it's what I do with most of my spare time. I am always thinking about it, expanding my capabilities, and using the band as a place to try out a lot of non-music principles too. So, in my case, I don't think it really applies.
  13. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Pretty much.

    I've never noticed a definite pattern based purely on where in your development you first picked up and started playing an instrument. Your learning style changes with age. So I'll agree adults do need to be taught music differently than children do. But as far as an individual's "emotional" vs "intellectual" gestalt and bias goes, I think that's more the individual than anything else.
  14. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I wonder if it makes a difference how much continuity with music in general or with a particular instrument a person has over their lifetime? I mean, thinking of myself, I had a round of piano lessons when I was 8 or 9 and again at about 12 or 13, and I played saxophone from 5th to 10th grade, then dropped it to focus on theater. I fiddled with bass a little in high school but not too much, then learned mandolin as a camp counselor in college summer breaks. For 20 years that mandolin was my only musical outlet and it was only a very sporadic one - I never would have called myself a "musician." So when I took up bass at 38 (7 years ago) it felt like a fresh start and only at that point that I started thinking of myself as a musician. So for a person with a musical bio like that, is it the childhood experience with music that counts, when there's so little continuity to adulthood, or is it the adult re-start?
  15. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I think it's more the amount of instruction on the paticular instrument. Take someone who had a decade of lessons on sax or piano versus someone with one year of instruction as an adult as guitar, and odds are the first group will be more cognitive in their approach.
    Remyd likes this.
  16. 5string_phunk

    5string_phunk Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2011
    Nashville, TN
    There are always variables and individual work ethics and what not, but Malcolm Gladwell's book 'Outliers' talks about advantages and the 10,000 hours theory. Thinking in terms of it generally taking X amount of hours to 'master' a certain discipline, then it always helps to start earlier! It's a pretty interesting read!

    Outliers: The Story of Success: Malcolm Gladwell: 2015316017930: Amazon.com: Books

    ...on the flip side, I started playing Trombone in 3rd grade and bass in 7th. I'm now 35 and find myself pretty far behind my musical peers who are several years younger than myself....so take it for what it's worth! :cool:
  17. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Well, I was a multi-instrumentalist from 8 to about 16.. played [LITERALLY] everything in the orchestra. The proverbial sub!... then quit when I graduated HS at 16.5.
    I learnt in my early twenties that there wasn't much place in rock n' roll for a flugelhorn or flute.. so I picked up guitar (for about a year or so) at 23. Moved and quit playing for 10+ yrs. Worked hard and ended up playing lead guitar in rock bands, running my own for 7 yrs.
    I've been playing bass (at church) for about 12 yrs - but only as a side effort from guitar.. I start SERIOUSLY playing bass about 4 yrs ago.. and I'm 50+.
    I've never asked about other band members - in any band - about their youth history. There are bozos and idiots in all walks of life.. I just hope I never end up in a band with them!
  18. hintz


    Jun 5, 2014
    wahiawa, HI(Oahu)
    I don't think I play with "reckless abandon" and I've been playing bass since I was 11....i actually play as simply as possible most of the time!
    Remyd likes this.
  19. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    I've not noticed a particular correlation, but I've not been paying particular attention either. I'm not even sure whether I fall on the grown-up or passionate side of playing. Probably a bit towards the later.

    I've been playing bass in one form or another since around 3rd grade and I'm still a hack. The only thing I definitely know is that 10 years of structured school orchestral experience didn't leave me a musical prodigy or with a functional grasp of music theory, but it did give me enough of a foundation to slide easily into the various pop-rock, country, Praise and Worship and rock bands I'be been in since then.
  20. Wesley R

    Wesley R Supporting Member

    I have recently had an experience with a young person around nine years old that is an astonishing keys player. He has been playing for nine months, and wow, what a player.

    As far as the original question: I know some young men (almost 30), who have been in various bands for year. They are now together in some form of scream fest band. They think they are something special, and filled with emotion and passion. Outside of practice and gigs, they almost never talk about the band or playing. At that age I always talked about the band, playing, and gear.

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