Learning To Play An Instrument As An Adult: How, Why, & Where

City Music Center/ FB

Despite what you may have heard about how difficult mastering a musical instrument can be as an adult, studies done over the last decade have proven that we are more capable than we had previously thought. With many music lessons geared towards children, the prospect of harboring musical skills in adulthood can seem like a daunting challenge. But Pittsburgh is home to a variety of resources and organizations dedicated to putting the music back into the life of students of all ages.

The piano prodigies amongst you may not be in need of further enhancing your musical abilities. But for the rest of us, those violin lessons we took for 3 years in grade school may have very well worn off by now. If you find yourself relating to the latter of those two groups, it may well be time to jump back onto the musical wagon.

Although you no longer contain the malleable brain of your youth that made learning how to play instruments so effortless, your hardened adult brain still has plenty of room for adaptation. Unlike children, who consistently produce new brain cells and are therefore able to dedicate some of those cells to music, adults have to create new synapses between the brain cells they already have.

In an article from NPR Music, Brigid McCarthy proclaimed that one of the biggest hurdles faced by adults seeking to play music, is their fear of failure. One of the least stressful ways to make your way back into a musical mindset is to join a choir or take voice lessons. Pittsburgh is home to countless professional singers and an array of vocal studios. BH Singer Studio, Higher Voice Studio, and Daniel Teadt Voice Studio are among some of our city’s most highly recommended institutions that offer resources for students of all skill levels.

BH Singer Studios/ FB
BH Singer Studios/ FB

If singing doesn’t appeal to you or you’re looking for a more challenging venture, more personalized instrumental lessons may be a good option. Takelessons and Thumbtack are both great websites that can connect you to independent music instructors all over Western Pennsylvania. Choosing to take one on one classes can often help to instill confidence in beginners and make the all-too-well known urge to give up less desirable.

If you find yourself drawn to more structured music classes, the City Music Center at Duquesne University offers programs in Traditional Studies, Jazz Studies, and Music Technology. All of these programs are open to students ages 3 and up with a special Adult Division which includes the “six pack” option for individuals who are looking for a smaller time commitment of 6 classes spread out over the course of an academic semester.

While the auditory system of an adult can initially be resistant to picking up musical skills, our brains have the advantage of being able to understand musical composition on a deeper intellectual level. This, in turn, can often make the desire to master an instrument all the more appealing. When you take that drive and pair it with the repetition and structure offered by professional music lesson, altering our stubborn adult brains becomes a much simpler task.