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Learning as an adult vs learning as a young person.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by orange joe, Jul 31, 2019.


  1. BAG

    BAG

    May 5, 2014
    New Zealand
    I'm 49 and I've learnt more music theory in the last 5 years than I did in the previous 30 years. This has made me a better musician without a doubt.

    The difference between me back then and now is that I want to learn to be a better "musician" and will try and take the time to learn whereas back then I just wanted to play songs so i'd do the least amount of work possible to play a song.... quite often taking shortcuts or just not playing it properly.
     
    John6 and MVE like this.
  2. BassFool61

    BassFool61

    Sep 11, 2016
    Missouri
    As an adult who took up playing bass just a few years ago I find my biggest two challenges are 1) Finding the time to fit practice into my work and life schedules and 2) Finding other musicians to play with.

    The first issue just means that my progress was a little slower than might be expected. The second is a real problem. I have no network of friends in the business that know me as a bass player. When I bring it up I get a dozen questions like "who have you played with", "do you have any recordings or video", or "have you ever played with ….". I can't fit in playing with the teenagers, but finding adult musicians to take me seriously has been a struggle.

    As far as my teachability, I played brass in high school and college so I already had a strong foundation. Not sure what it would be like learning to read music and music theory at my age.
     
  3. Mike Vee

    Mike Vee

    Oct 8, 2012
    two words: ginkgo biloba
     
  4. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    I did nothing more than mess around on bass starting when I was about 37-ish. Family and work responsibilities didn't give me enough time to do more than that. Once my son was about 14 or 15 I started taking lessons because a) he was getting older I didn't need to be as hands on and he was doing more on his own anyway and b) I knew he'd be leaving for college soon and lessons would help me get ready for the next steps. But even with the increase in free time I still had to cancel about half of them for "life" reasons. Then once he was 18, I quit lessons and joined a few basement jams and only now, a month away from turning 55, have I finally joined a band that intends to play out (still working toward it, but our first gig is scheduled).

    Since starting to play with others I often feel like I'm drinking from a fire hose, and that feeling is even stronger since joining this band. But it's good for me. It's motivating, I'm learning A LOT, I'm having fun, and I have a goal we're working toward. But I *DO* wish I started when I was a teenager or even younger, like everyone else I've played with so far. I have the motivation and desire but I know at this age I'm no longer the kind of mental sponge a young kid is and it's definitely harder for 55 year old me than for 13 year old me. But playing with much more experienced people both helps me along and also challenges me and, even though I don't meet every challenge, I'm meeting more as time goes on so I can look back and see the improvement. I figure my only other choice is to give up and stop playing, and I'm not going to do that.

    My advice? Start when you're a kid! You'll have a lot of things working against you as an adult learner! :D
     
    browndog and Bass Jones like this.
  5. Koshchei

    Koshchei

    Mar 17, 2019
    Peterborough, ON
    Perfect pitch is off the table if you're over 4 years old, but other than that, you should be good.
     
    Reedt2000 likes this.
  6. I started on mandolin at the age of 54. I learned it faster than guitar, which I started at 14, or bass, which I started at 24. Because I really wanted to learn.

    I dont believe that anyone is unteachable if they have the desire to learn. If we have the desire we can learn something new everyday.
     
    Old P Bass Guy likes this.
  7. It may not be as easy, however it's never too late to learn...well with most things and times that is of course.
     
  8. Everything in this post applies to me, except substitute 50 for 40...
     
    MYLOWFREQ likes this.
  9. Samatza

    Samatza

    Apr 15, 2019
    Young people have the time advantage, as you get older life takes over and time becomes a scarce commodity, jobs, bills, mortgages, kids etc. all take your full focus to stay on top of things.
    When you retire and the kids are grown and take care of themselves you again have time to invest in learning.
    So while young people absorb information faster old people are generally more dedicated and will notice the finer details in what they are are endeavouring to learn.
     
  10. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    I think the best time to learn bass is when one's young. There's the idealistic drive, the SERIOUSNESS of it all, the hopes and dreams. As people grow older, Life beats those expectations out of you. Plus an older person is already constantly distracted with real-life issues like home mortgages, debt, children, spouse, etc.

    Also it's a pretty good assumption that after a certain age, the marketability of that human goes down exponentially. People want to see young, tight-skinned bright eyed people who can twirl on a dime performing nowadays. Older and want to learn how to play? Get a uke and learn some Christmas songs for family get-togethers.
     
  11. somebrains

    somebrains Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2017
    Younger people are easier, bc music is an elective.
    The alternatives aren't necessarily as attractive to a kid that's aiming for their goals.
    Breaking thru issues is easier when everyone around you are just as bad, ego doesn't compensate the same way when you are among peers.

    Adults are harder, bc there's the element of choice.
    There is a lack of necessity, bc music doesn't open the same doors for a kid as it does for an adult.

    The brain when young is better when it hardens and narrows thru common adulthood.

    Unusual adults can learn as well as anyone.
     
  12. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    "unteachable" is an absolute term, and that is just flat out incorrect.

    from experience: aside from extremes (younger than 6, older than middle-aged) motivation drives improvements, not age.

    I teach music for a living, and have taught a significant number of adult students. Most don't last for two reasons, the first being that adults have responsibilities and committing to a new hobby is hard. the other is that if you are, lets say 35 years old, the last time you had no choice but to be a beginner at something that requires coordination and learning new reflexes was likely around the time you learned to drive. being a beginner and being comfortable with incremental change is a skill that we loose with age, because we usually require it less. by the time you are 30 you likely have all of the physical skills that life will require of you.

    that being said, I've had huge success with adult beginners. A huge part of teaching them is they have music in their head already that they've loved for many years. that motivation is something worth harnessing.
     
    Old P Bass Guy and Reedt2000 like this.
  13. MVE

    MVE

    Aug 8, 2010
    Learning something, really learning something, takes a long time. Obviously, the earlier you start, the better you will be at any specific age.

    But, personally, I can focus on learning and retaining specific information better now than I could years ago.

    Im now happily married with a beautiful daughter. Years ago, I was too often distracted by...ya know, distractions. ;)
     
  14. Whippet

    Whippet

    Aug 30, 2014
    A child's brain is 85% complete by the age of 36 months, give or take a few months.

    A child that started doing flash cards, simple problem solving and been exposed to multiple language by the time of 3 has a significant advantage over kids that dont have the opportunity.

    There is a difference between a genius and someone that is intelligent. If you started out an early age, you have a chance to be a genius if you werent born one. (in a certain field, not every aspect and field of life) Not 100% guaranteed, but you have a higher chance. (once again, if you weren't born one) If not, you might be a genius by birth but the chance gets slimmer and slimmer as time goes by. By 12, your brain is almost all complete. And it becomes much harder to become a genius. Intelligent, yes, Genius? probably not.

    After reading, studying, talking to people in this field, it has become obvious to me that earlier you start, the better. The way the information is transmitted is just different in kids that have had exposure to flashcards, language, numbers, 3d object / axis rotation, drawing 3d, etc etc. Also the transmission speed is stupid fast compared to kids that didnt get the treatment. This transmission of information in the brain applies to every thought process including music.

    Another thing to consider, If you start at a really early age, you wont think of it as a chore. Take my son. He plays soccer. Just turned 4, been playing since 2. He plays with 5-6 year old. It's normal for him. He runs faster than any 4 and 5 year old. For him, this is normal. Chasing a ball up and down the sweltering field is normal. For us, it's a pain in the butt. Hot, sweaty, tiring. We'll give ourselves all kinds of excuses not to chase the ball. But for him, trying to catch up to the 6 year old and scoring is normal. It's not a chore. Also he doesnt have to worry about finances, food, where to get any of these things, safety, etc etc. He just concentrates on what he's doing.

    So long story short, the earlier you start the better. The more you push yourself constantly, the better. Using scientific proven methods of studying is better. Having less stress in life is better. I could go on but you get the point, starting early has advantage in every aspect of life. Most likely starting as early as possible without making the child hate it, is the best.

    The only ones that are unteachable are the unteachable and the dead. You are 10000% unteachable if you are dead. Everyone else is teachable. Some are slower but they are all teachable. Teaching really young ones takes a certain mentality and skill. It is different than teaching older people. Just different, not harder. The learning curve accleration is different too. Up to 3, it's almost all repetition. After 3 you can't rely just on repeating patterns. Doesnt make pre 3 year old teaching any less important. It's just as important, I'd say it's most important. What you do at 3 and below will have a profound effect at 12, if the child continues to practice the trade.

    I hope I didnt ruin your day. On the bright side, if you started old enough, you can drink beer and practice. Drinking beer and practicing bass. What could be better? Have a nice day!
     
  15. Tad

    Tad Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2007
    Boise, Idaho
    When I was young, my grandfather told me something that he said his grandfather told him.

    His grandfather was in Company F, 13th Mississippi Infantry from Manassas until Gettysburg where he was wounded and then Gambel’s Cavalry Company from then until the end of the war.

    He said, “Boy, the day you stop learning is the day you get stupid.”

    I try to not be stupid.
     
  16. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    Appleton
    I had read an article about certain orders of nuns that had a statiscal anomaly of absence of Alzheimer’s, and part of the theory was that because they cloistered in a continuing educational setting and were always learning new foreign languages, stuff like that, what you described played a key part.

    So I also undertook learning software development and computer networking at age 56. Doing everything I can to stave off old age.
     
    Old P Bass Guy likes this.
  17. Old P Bass Guy

    Old P Bass Guy

    Nov 26, 2017
    Arizona
    And.....it sure beats watching Dr. Phil and the View!
     
    Coolhandjjl likes this.
  18. vancamp

    vancamp

    Jan 22, 2008
    That's exactly when I picked up the bass guitar. I don't think my teacher (for the couple months as I started) had any reservations. But I did already have a music background, just not in guitar.
     
    Old P Bass Guy likes this.
  19. That's for sure. But watching Jeopardy is good for your brain.
     
  20. Old P Bass Guy

    Old P Bass Guy

    Nov 26, 2017
    Arizona
    My wife agrees with that....and she's never wrong.
     
    BadSanta1281 likes this.

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