Stop letting fear create excuses for why you can’t start music lessons

I hear so many adults tell me that they used to play music at school and would love to do it again.

Then, they list off numerous reasons why they can’t start lessons. This makes me sad to hear as so many of these reasons are limiting beliefs and fears.

However, I totally get it.

I use all the same excuses for avoiding going to the gym. Deep down I know that it’s good for me, that I feel better when I have been, it’s great for my health and a perfect opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills. Actually once I am at the gym, I enjoy the challenge of it and always leave feeling better about myself.

So why do I put it off?

In truth fear. Afraid of not being good enough, not seeing progress, for people to laugh at you, being a beginner again and for all that effort to be a waste. So we use lack of time due to our jobs as an excuse, how the cost of tuition could be spent on something else, and family commitments as a justification for why we can’t do it. We even blame our age and say that we are too old to learn something new.

If we are truly honest all of these limiting beliefs and excuses are not real and are just that – limiting beliefs. When we really want to do something we always find the time, money and courage to start. We do it all the time as adults in all areas of our lives. So why do we stop ourselves doing more of this? Fear and self-doubt.

I am lucky enough to teach some amazing beginner adult musicians who started music lessons for the first time as adults and they are making incredible progress. They work full-time demanding jobs, have families, hectic schedules, but find time during the week to do a bit of practice as part of their self-care and mental wellbeing routine. In truth they probably are my most focused and motivated students because they made a choice to be there and understand the work needed for progress.

In truth, I love teaching these adults so much. We talk about music in great depth, I see their awesome progress, growth in confidence, increase in ability and they leave my lessons beaming. It’s a rewarding experience for both of us. It’s just a chance to enjoy music and connection in a wonderful, organic way.

So if you are considering learning an instrument here are a few top tips:

  1. Find a teacher who understands you and your goals as a musician. Someone who is flexible, adaptable and willing to create a curriculum that works for you rather than just using the same old method book that they use for everyone.
  2. It’s so important to get advice on the right pieces to learn for your current ability. Can you imagine going to the gym and trying to lift the heaviest weights on your first session? You probably wouldn’t achieve it, hurt yourself and feel disappointed. Know that you will eventually be able to play your favourite piece, just be patient and get the techniques and skills to lead to it first. You will then be more successful and reach your goal in a shorter amount of time.
  3. Ask the teacher for helping in getting the right musical equipment. Good teachers will help you understand what you need, what works, and more importantly the best place to purchase the right equipment for the best price.
  4. Accept that you will be a beginner again and at times that can be really frustrating. A good teacher will help you see the real progress you are making and help normalise the frustrations.
  5. Don’t stress about practice. You will always find time to do what you can manage. Sometimes you will be motivated to practice every day and sometimes you won’t and that’s okay. A good teacher understands real life happens and shouldn’t make you feel bad for that.
  6. Listen to the music you are learning and listen to great performers on your instrument. Even if you can’t practice every day, listening to the music is beneficial on many levels. Be careful not to judge or create negative thoughts about your progress. Many of the best musicians have been playing since an early age, had the best music teachers in the world, an agent and promotion team, and have undertaken gruelling daily practice routines. This is what is expected if you want a career as a top professional musician but most people don’t want that life so don’t judge yourself against that. Be inspired by their love of music and enjoyment of music-making instead.
  7. Play your pieces to others or even record yourself so you can hear your progress. Take the music exams if that helps keep you motivated. Perform in recitals at your teacher’s studio and when you feel confident get involved in community music-making. Sharing the joy of music is an important gift and a way for us to all feel more connected in a positive way.
  8. Finally – don’t stress about wrong notes – they will always be there 🙂

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