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The Advantages of the Adult Beginner

Posted on: April 1st, 2010 by dville

I’ve heard many adult beginning students bemoan the fact they didn’t start learning to play the uke when they were much younger. Well, the great news is, if you are an adult beginner, you did start learning music at a young age — by listening. Upon reaching adulthood you’ve already, no doubt, listened to hundreds of thousands of songs. All that music you’ve heard is stored in your head. Think of a favorite melody and start humming it from memory and then find those notes on your instrument.



The way to do that is by systematically putting the structure of the major scale and its intervals under your fingers and into your ears. With all that musical information already stored in your head, practicing scales and intervals is fun because you never know when you’ll hear part of a melody you already know. Then the treasure hunt is on to find the rest of the melody, and by knowing where to look in the scale and intervals, most of the work is already done.



Being a musician is a life-long pursuit. If a musician ever got to that mythical place where they finally “got it” what would be left? At a recent workshop a woman (pictured above) came up to me afterwards and told me she had been trying to figure out the circle of fifths for five years. During my workshop the light came on. She was beaming. As we follow our musical paths one never wants those type of ah-ha moments to end.

Photo: Tonya Dale

2 Responses

  1. howlinhobbit says:

    Only took her 5 years? She's swifter than me. Must be closer to 3 times that before I had my "aha!" moment.But I maintain if you've stopped learning (anything, not just music) than you should probably lie down since you've obviously died and not noticed.

  2. YesterUkes says:

    I, too, have said, 'I wish I had learned to play sooner." But I realized the timing of my learning was likely just right. If I had learned sooner, I might play a little better and know a little more, but I probably would have not met all these wonderful ukulele people in the last few years. I was so hungry to learn more that I found people who could help. And then I was so excited about playing that I turned around and taught others. And then we started a band that attracted more people, none of whom I would have met any other way.So my later-in-life start turned out to be perfect timing. And it's fun to know there are still plenty of "aha" moments ahead of me!

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