It’s Never Too Late To Start

Myth: I’m too old to learn how to play an instrument.

Maybe you don’t need to hear this, because you’ve already proved it wrong! But there might come a day when you feel discouraged. Then you will need to remember: You are a musician if you play every day.

The practice of music is not taking you towards some ultimate goal. The daily practice of music is the goal.

I teach mostly adults (about ¾ of my student roster). Learning as an adult has certain advantages. If you’re an adult, you’re probably studying fiddle because it’s something YOU really want to do, not something your parents want you to do.

You have decided to invest your precious time on earth making music, and so you may appreciate this opportunity more than you would if you were a seven-year grinding away in a violin lesson, all the while wishing you were playing Minecraft on your mom’s iPad. I just looked at a video about Minecraft and it looks amazing. I’m not sure I would have stuck with violin lessons if I had this back then! In fact I kind of want to stop writing this and play it right now.

Mom, can I have the iPad for awhile? Please, please, please, pleasepleaseplease [times a thousand] But I AM acting my age. Lots of 48-year old men enjoy playing Minecraft! OK, what if I practice for ten minutes? What!!?? OK, I’ll practice for a half an hour….

But I digress…

A seven-year old may have more raw learning ability and have a more playful approach to learning, wheras an adult may have a more methodical approach. A seven-year old is more easily distracted by a picture on the wall, or she may get bored with doing something repetitive. The adult is better able to focus and see something through.

The beautiful thing is, we all learn the things we need to learn through practice. Perhaps the seven-year-old learns how to focus and the adult learns to let go a bit and play.

Dan McLaughlin was 31 years old when he decided to quit his job and become a professional golfer. Minor detail: he had never played golf before. He came very close to going pro! Some of my most successful students, like Fiona Higgins, have started in middle age or much later.

Not only is it never to late to start, it’s never to late to have fun. One day, you’ll wake up and  your hard work will feel like play.

Leave a Reply

11 responses to “It’s Never Too Late To Start

  1. I always wanted to play the fiddle but with family and career always put it off. When I retired I picked up a fiddle and never looked back. Actually I surprise myself with my progress. I play everyday and love the way Jason teaches.

  2. I love the encouragement as a middle-aged beginner!! I’ve tinkered with fiddle once or twice over the years, but never seriously until now. The FiddleHed lessons give me structure, a huge variety of tunes to choose from, “someone” to play with (the backing tracks), and great entertainment. Sometimes I listen to FiddleHed YouTube videos for fun while I’m driving.

    Although this is harder than any instrument I’ve learned, it’s also the most rewarding to accomplish. I’m more proud of calling myself a fiddler than I ever was during years of piano and professional guitar playing.

    Sure, my brain and fingers aren’t as fast as they once were. My hearing is changing. My right wrist has begun to hurt from playing. I’m constantly reminded that adults can’t master violin. But I’m having too much fun to let any of this stop me now. With FiddleHed I might really make it this time!

  3. Thanks for posting the the harmony part video for Swallowtail Jig. I am 52 years old and have a 10 year old daughter who has just started violin. I decided to purchase two violins, one for each of us so that we can both learn together. I thought that the progression of her school lesson program was way too slow for her ability so I began teaching her songs that would challenge her. I started to teach her Swallowtail when I happened across your site. Since I have been playing guitar for 35 years, I have a good grasp of music theory and tend to design alto parts for simple carols like wish you a merry christmas and then play them with my daughter while my 9 year old son plays background keys. I thought I could write a harmony part to Swallowtail but you already had one worked out. Saved me a ton of time. Looking forward to what your site has to offer. Thanks again. Jim

  4. I agree totally with the ‘never too late’ theme. Just turned 66 and started trying to play my fiddle in my mid-40’s when my kids were driving me crazy playing ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ for Suzuki lessons on our piano. I actually started playing along (in a remote room) with my fiddle from time to time – that was my start. A friend of mine had graduated up to the fiddle and we went back-and-forth sharing tunes and discoveries. We grew up together doing much the same thing with guitar playing. He spent a lot more time than I did musically and as a result pulled quite a ways ahead of me in playing ability, and I eventually put down the fiddle thinking I’d never get anywhere much with it. Focused on learning the mandolin for quite a while, which I discovered wasn’t a bad switch for wanna-be fiddle player having a parallel with tuning and fingerings – the frets give a late-learner a break on tone compared to the fiddle.
    About 2 years ago I sincerely picked up my fiddle again. The mandolin playing was a leg up, but the biggest plus this time around is all the available videos and software a person can use for like personal lessons, or breaking a favorite or tough song down in speed to ‘aha’ the tricky parts. I spent a little money for these lessons and software the past two years, but the payoff has been very wonderful, and surprising. Key things I found were the 1) practice every day, 2) play with confidence and be positive, 3)recognize your weak areas (and strong ones) and find a way to work them over (or utilize them), 4) keep an open mind for new ideas/techniques, 5)know your limitations and know there likely is a way around them, so go find it.
    So play as much as you can. There is ample time to dedicate when you start looking for it. My biggest hurdle is making myself ‘slow down’ and be more accurate and clear to start with and then build speed. Think that is probably a symptom of being older and knowing there is less of a time window to accomplish things. Have to say, every time I’ve gone for clarity and accuracy first, I have been able to progress faster than I thought I was going to be able to. Jason is so right about that.
    Thanks, Jason (Fiddlehed) and all my fellow fiddlers (and late-bloomers) for this great world of music!

  5. I took up fiddle when I retired three years ago. Now I’ll probably never become a professional classical violinist, but that was never my goal. I’m having a great time jamming with friends, and at Bluegrass festival campouts. I can hear and feel improvement and that’s really my goal. And I’m having a great time and meeting new people. I’m using my brain and keeping active. My husband recently started learning to play guitar and sing.

  6. I’ll add my agreement. I started the fiddle a couple of years ago when I was 57. Teaching myself, I really struggled until I found Fiddlehed, then came on in leaps and bounds. Jason, your tunes are fun and simple without being childish, you teach at just the right pace, and I often feel as though you’re there in the room with me. In my younger years I played recorder, guitar and flute but always imagined the violin would be beyond me. I appreciate you showing me the light. ?

  7. Hi,
    I believe also that anyone who is physically able can learn the violin at any age. I started on 10th November this year 2017, and I am 80 years young. I am taking your free lessons and appreciate you Jason for taking it slowly and getting to show a student the correct procedures
    many thanks

  8. I agree, too. I’m 62 and will have been playing for 2 years in Feb. When I was taking piano as a girl, it killed me to practice for a half hour. Now I practice twice a day and can easily do it for an hour or longer, just because I love playing the fiddle so much. I have an in-person teacher, but I kind of like Fiddlehed better.

    1. I too had a teacher but got away from her after a year and a half. I really enjoy FiddleHed and it’s always there, accessible to play and practice as long as I please . I am 65 and started two years ago.

  9. I agree it is never too late to start. I am 69 and began lessons last May. I keep wondering if my aging brain is slowing me down and keeping me from remembering where to put those left fingers and to keep my bow perpendicular. But I have always loved the fiddle. I wish I had begun this years ago, but I am very happy I began now. In spite of my mistakes, it is so enjoyable learning and it is a joy when I can make a tune sound like the tune.
    Thank you for this online tutoring experience. It is a valuable supplement to my in person lessons.