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Discussion Starter #1
A journalist friend of mine is researching older adults who begin learning an instrument late in life for a newspaper article. Does anyone care to comment on their experience, and how music has affected their life?
 

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i started trumpet when i was 40 (after a steller 6 month career in 5th grade). A new wife gently led me to switch gears to sax about 5 years ago (at 47).
I am an engineer/scientist by day, and my most favorite part of the day is practicing/playing/learning.
It IS my hobby.
Aside from keeping the other side of my brain active, it provides limitless relaxation and stress releif (most days), keeps my keen intrest in always learning alive, and makes me feel amazing when i accomplish something new.
It has re-awoken my love of music and music exploration (to the point of buying a turntable and vinyl which seems to force me to listen to music vs. skipping around on my ipod) and opened up so many artists and style to me that i never bothered with prior.
I just built a brand new music room to support this endevor, and am happy to spend hours in it.
It is a huge part of who i am now and i would not give it up for anything.
 

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I guess I would be interested in the definition of "older adults... late in life".. Is it when one is in their 40's -50's - 60's - 70's???

In my 50's and for me it's all about the joy of learning something new. I do not focus so much on a defined finish line but truly enjoy the process of learning.

Connecting with a great teacher makes it even better. One who knows how to work with adults, etc... is an amazing connection to have.

Overall, it helps to keep my brain active, fills up any 'down time' (not that I have much) and gives me a reason to focus on a specific task by setting aside all of the daily distractions that come at me at warp speed.
 

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If you search the forum, you'll find previous discussions of this theme. But yeah, coming back to sax has made life a lot sweeter and more interesting for me.
 

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Yes, for me anyway. Started by researching the best clarinet for my daughter in 98, bought a sax for myself, lessons, learned basic repairs, bought and sold lots of horns (Schedule C business for tax benefits), resumed playing guitar, writing lots of music and lyrics, etc... Music has been a major interest in my life the past 20 years and has been nothing but positive and enriching both mentally and physically. Started back at 42 and now 62 and still at it.
 

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Journalists and research are a movable feast.. "made your life any different"? Coming of a motorbike and breaking my leg made my life "any different", as did moving to Norway...
Still.

For background (or see here): Like motteatoj, I never got further in learning to play music than a years worth of clarinet, age 10... till age 54 when I started Alto, then piano, then, last year, got a Tenor and a clarinet. My two primary objectives where to have something to do at home, in the winter, which didn't entail sitting in front of a computer; and to understand jazz (and some modern classical) better - I'm pretty a good audience member for classical, but as much as I enjoyed jazz, never felt I quite "got it".

Much of the last six years - and some years to come - involve, IMHO, slowly growing a bit of brain in which to put music (and another bit to put rhythm in). Primarily, it's daily practice on a horn and on piano; every day, exercises, improve something a little, learn something new (even if it's just one phrase)... drip drip. Also reading books, watching youtubes, capital L-Listening to music and, indeed, reading SOTW (which is a bit like sitting in a pub after work, listening to folks chew the fat - full of socialised knowledge). I am also lucky enough to have a room in which all the stuff sits (when there are no visitors) and spending time in there is quite immersive. So, sure, that's a change in life on a daily basis...

But just this weekend I was chatting about this with a very old friend of mine. I was saying I'd got very fed up and board with tourism or sightseeing but felt that perusing learning music was at least as much value to me personally... she said "oh, yeah, like having an inner landscape". We all have several "inner landscapes" - any profession or deep hobby can build an inner world in which one can wander around playing with the ideas and enjoying the view; Music is one such which has been around in every culture since - probably - before homosapiens existed.... So, yeah. Even if my "inner musical landscape" is still largely mud and seedlings, nestling in the foothills of the discipline; having it has certainly made my life different!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
These are great responses! Thank you! I'm sure I didn't word her question as well as she would have. We were together playing duets, and she asked if she could interview me sometime for the article, and then I thought of the amazing people here and wanted to know your thoughts too, as people with a greater variety of experience. I've grown incredibly through playing sax late in life, and you all answering questions here and posting your own "ah-ha's" have helped me keep from wandering off the path during the times when I had hit a brick wall and couldn't figure out how to get on. I did, however, have some music background to begin with. But learning something new and demanding is just what I needed to make life way more fun. It became a lot easier when I got a teacher to guide me in person, but I still find things on the forum that click and help me with stuff my teacher hasn't addressed yet.
 

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I run a business all day and am in my early 50s. Started the journey to learn the sax about six months ago. Picking up the sax later in life is adding a nice counter balance to my business owner responsibilities. Although I practice regularly, this is a hobby and I'm not hard on myself in terms of progress. The exact opposite of the way I have to be in my business. It's using a completely different part of the mind and let's me leave all of my business owner stress to the side and focus on trying to create something that's (hopefully) musical. Then when I get back to the inevitable problems of running my business, i find i'm fresher and more focused. So in that way, it's for sure made my life different.
 

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Yeah it's horrible. I used to be able to go out and listen to bands or players. But now, it they suck at all, even a little bit, I got to leave. I would rather listen to me working my stuff out than them. Shedding the horn every day really gives me an appreciation for the cats who really can play too.
 

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Yeah it's horrible. I used to be able to go out and listen to bands or players. But now, it they suck at all, even a little bit, I got to leave. I would rather listen to me working my stuff out than them. Shedding the horn every day really gives me an appreciation for the cats who really can play too.
How does this relate to learning an instrument late in life? Just curious.
 

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I started a co-worker playing alto when he was 60. He was lamenting (whining, really) about his family's poverty when he was a kid, his having to work after school, and not being able to afford an instrument. I asked him, a then-working CPA, if he learned everything he knows back in elementary school.

I loaned him an alto. After a couple of lessons and giving him fingering charts and a few photocopies of simple standards he was off and running with little guidance from me. He's over 75 now. Learned to read music pretty well and, as far as I know, still plays every day on his Yamaha Custom.

We've lost touch recently, but he often mentioned to me how much he enjoys playing. So, his learning an instrument late in life enriched my own.
 

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...I'm sure I didn't word her question as well as she would have....
I didn't mean to be quite that snotty :)

What interests me is whether there's actually an up-tick on the number of "late bloomers". I've not been into playing music that long, so I can't really judge. But some youtube tutors etc seem to be increasingly focusing on people taking up instruments as a very serious hobby, as they approach or enter retirement. And it is a general trend that healthy, active folk who are getting on a bit, with some disposable income are having to be catered for in many entertainment industries. There might be an interesting article there...
 

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Nearly every new player that I have met who was starting on guitar, drums, accordion, saxophone, and trumpet in the last seven years has been over the age of 40. That may speak more to the circles in which I travel, though.

I have to say, progress by some older students is agonizingly slow compared to that of kids; not necessarily to them, but to me. A group lesson would be an impossibility. But they all stick with it, which I can't say is true with younger people. It's a desire with them, not a lark.
 

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I have to say, progress by some older students is agonizingly slow compared to that of kids; not necessarily to them, but to me.
Lol, reminds me of when I was taking lessons! My teacher would regularly get annoyed with my slow progress. I finally had to tell him “hey, I work 24/7 and am on the road like 50% of the time, so this is as good as it’s gonna get.” Kind of an aha moment and he backed off on the you’re a bad boy for not practicing enough crap. I’m sure we’re less of a sponge at 40, 50 or 60 but time available is also a factor for most adult players!
 

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I have to say, progress by some older students is agonizingly slow compared to that of kids; not necessarily to them, but to me. A group lesson would be an impossibility. But they all stick with it, which I can't say is true with younger people. It's a desire with them, not a lark.
I think as a teacher you have to keep in mind that the "to them" is significantly more important than the "to me".

Lol, reminds me of when I was taking lessons! My teacher would regularly get annoyed with my slow progress. I finally had to tell him “hey, I work 24/7 and am on the road like 50% of the time, so this is as good as it’s gonna get.” Kind of an aha moment and he backed off on the you’re a bad boy for not practicing enough crap. I’m sure we’re less of a sponge at 40, 50 or 60 but time available is also a factor for most adult players!
Good for you for reminding your teacher about the reality of adult life. Yes, we are far less of a sponge, and far more hard-wired, by the time we hit midlife.
 

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I started playing about 10 years ago in my lat 50s, after a brief go at it in high school almost 40 years before that. What got me back into playing was an old friend - whom I had lost contact with and whose blues/R&B band from back in our high school days was having a CD release party/performance - reached out and invited me to sit in. Well, I dusted off the sax, tried to play for a week, got enough of a sound out of it to sit in on a slow blues in A, and I was hooked. I started noodling around with the sax a few hours a week, and when my friend’s band decided to add a horn section, they invited me to be the fourth horn reading very simple charts. And that led to more playing and practicing, and lessons, and joining an adult jazz ensemble. And today I play in a jam band (that has actually gotten some radio airplay), and two jazz bands, practicing 2 to 3 nights a week and gigging about 30 times a year in total.

How has sax affected my life? It’s rekindled a passion I’ve always had for music. It’s provided me some direction and purpose, having retired about 5 years ago. I really enjoy performing, and it’s felt great to spread the joy of music. I’ve also rekindled some old friendships and made many new ones. The social thing has been a very important part of the journey. And playing/practicing improvisational music has kept my brain going – especially being challenged by my jazz bands to learn new and (for me) difficult tunes. And perhaps most importantly it seems to raise my energy level and to keep me feeling young(er) – well, at least not too old. And it’s kind of cool inviting my kids, nieces, nephews, and their friends out to hear the band (the jam band – they won’t listen to jazz much). So, having become the central activity in my life, I’d say it’s had a fairly profound effect. Oh, and now I can finally say I’m a full-time professional musician 😊
 

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I have owned my sax for nearly a year now. After playing brass since 5th grade, picking up the tenor sax at age 46-47 has been a lesson in discipline, patience, and self-awareness. I am amazed at how many little things have become automatic for me after playing brass instruments that long - I can jump from one instrument and/or mouthpiece to the other with minimal effort. Finding a teacher and starting lessons would really help my progress.

On a different note - As a father of an almost 5 year old daughter, picking up the sax has helped me appreciate all of the new things that she is learning and simply appreciate the process of learning, reminding me to keep at it and give myself time to learn.
 

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I started at age 57 from scratch no prior musical experience, I had to learn to read music etc. I took lessons off and on for as few year and occasionally still take lessons here and there, I try to practice every day,
at my age I must say progress is much slower then some of young people I see learn stuff at much faster rate,
I have played in the local community band, I practice with a couple of local jazz musicians playing standards from the real book which I must say has been very rewarding, also played a couple of open mics
I certainly do have my struggles, I just keep working at them,
I am now 65 and truly enjoy every part of this journey and would not change anything,
 

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I always wanted to play an instrument, guitar most of all. I never seem to have the time or discipline to stick with it.

Four years ago when I was 55 I discovered I had some Post 911 GI Bill privileges that were going to waste so I decided to do something with them.

I signed up for classes at the Berklee School of Music. I took Music Theory and Ear Training and all the other classes were guitar related. I had a VERY
hard time trying to keep up because they expect you to have a background in music. I took ten classes over a little less than three year period. It was challenging,
but fun at the same time. I never really became good at it, but I stuck with it because it was relaxing.

Now at the eclipse of 59 nearly 60, I've decided to try my hand at the Saxophone. I always loved the sound of it when incorporated into Rock music and my dad
was a Jazz lover when I was a kid. I've only been at it for a week, but like the guitar I'm really having fun! It's been a help that I had the Music Theory class and
the Internet is a help as well. YouTube especially. There are also some good interactive learning sites that help.

So...has it made my life any different? Yes, I'm poor now from all the gear purchases. But, I am having a ton of fun with it all and I hope to get my grandkids involved in music!
 

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I am a very late bloomer. I played clarinet in my teens and early twenties. Love, marriage, kids, work and business all put a stop to my music aspirations. Back in the 60's I met and spoke to Ben Webster at Ronnie Scott's in London. I told myself that one day I will learn to play the tenor sax. Retired 5 years ago and got myself a tenor and took private lessons. That was 5 years ago and enjoyed every minute of it. The learning process has been very slow. But my knowledge of jazz harmony was lacking. So enrolled with Berklee on line and completed an intensive 12 week course in Jazz harmony. With this new found knowledge I am making good progress. I am 75 and not quite sure how much time I have left. My dream is to play with a small jazz group.
 
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