Slash is still learning the guitar

5 tips to learn guitar as an adult

Why learning to play the guitar is not a problem even in adulthood

(Image: © shutterstock / Von: Giulio_Fornasar)

In Germany there is a certain tradition of sending children to music school at a very early age, where they are then introduced to the instrument in the guitar sector, often with the classical guitar. In retrospect, if you did not have this chance - for whatever reason - many adults are reluctant to try this step again.

In addition, there are self-doubts: "Does that still make sense?", "At my age it doesn't work anymore", "Adults are not accepted anyway" and various other things. But all of these concerns are completely unfounded, because learning to play an instrument is possible at any age, even if you have to overcome one or the other age-related hurdle. Here you can find out which these can be and how you can still learn to play the guitar successfully and with fun:

Learning to play guitar as an adult - quick facts

  • Can I also learn to play the guitar as an adult?
    There is no age limit for learning to play an instrument, and age-related challenges are often offset by motivation and fun making music. Therefore there is never a reason to give up playing the guitar.
  • Learning with a guitar teacher or alone?
    A good guitar teacher deals with each student individually, regardless of age, adjusts the learning pace, corrects posture and playing errors, helps over hurdles and is motivated. If you try to teach yourself an instrument, mistakes often creep in that block progress, cause frustration and are difficult to eradicate. Most music schools also accept adult students.
  • Which guitar is right for me?
    If you don't have an instrument yet, you will find the right advisor in your guitar teacher who can recommend the appropriate western, concert or electric guitar based on the student's wishes. Anyone who already owns a guitar should bring it to the first conversation with the future teacher and have it checked by him or show it to a luthier so that any mistakes on the instrument do not hinder the fun of learning.
  • Which accessories do I need for my guitar?
    Usually the necessary accessories such as a guitar stand or a guitar amplifier for the electric guitar are available in the classroom. Additional equipment such as effects pedals or the like are purchases that should be made when the direction in which one is moving as a student becomes clear. So in the first lesson you should bring your guitar with you or the firm will to get one after detailed advice.

1. Specify goals

The advantage of a more mature age is that certain sound ideas and certain ideals may have already emerged that enable much more targeted practice and can significantly accelerate the learning process. Nonetheless, you should be clear about the expectations you have when learning the guitar and define for yourself where the journey should go in order to optimize the learning process towards this goal: Do I want to be able to play songs around the campfire? Do I want my own band? Do I want to become a singer / songwriter with a guitar? Depending on the idea, different topics are given a different weight and certain partial aspects can even be left out entirely.

2. Gain motivation

When learning in childhood and adolescence, there is often a mixture of intrinsic factors (= motivation gained from within; "I enjoy the instrument, I want the ability"), but also of extrinsic factors (= external motivation; foreplay, Homework; pressure from parents and teacher).

Adults have to gain and maintain this motivation primarily from within themselves in order to permanently release the energy they need for learning. This can be more difficult at a certain point, so my tip is: Set small goals that you are looking forward to, such as presenting something on certain occasions, be it with the family or at other events. Working towards a certain deadline can intensify the learning process extremely!

An additional point to get motivated in the long term is:

3. Choose a good teacher

Anyone who has never had lessons and has never learned an instrument is certainly well advised to seek out an accompanying teacher who will specifically cater to your wishes. Even if many think that music schools are primarily aimed at children, adults are of course also happy to be admitted to such facilities and most instrumental teachers find it extremely refreshing to greet an older student after a day of lessons full of kids.

A teacher can pay attention to posture problems and knows how to pack the learning material into meaningful portions that do not over- or under-demand you, so that moments of frustration do not arise in the first place.

4. Set up concrete time management

This point is certainly the most difficult to implement after a certain point in life, because if you are fully employed and possibly also have children or other family responsibilities, it can be difficult to set up a regular exercise plan.

Try to free up a time window of 20-30 minutes about 5 days a week. Of course, you practice more effectively when your head is still reasonably fresh, e.g. in the morning before work, but after work practice can also be very effective if you can still concentrate. In any case, continuity is important, and it is usually easy if you set a fixed appointment every day and try to keep it as far as possible.

5. Open up to learning

Learning also has a lot to do with "opening up", because nothing can be poured into a full container.

According to my observation, adult students in particular sometimes find it difficult to accept something, especially from younger teachers. Constantly questioning everything and wanting to find your own way is justified, but in areas in which you do not yet have any real expertise, it can become an enormous brake. Hence my tip: Get involved with teachers and tips from outside, accept them and try to trust that they know better what is right for you, because they are superior to you in experience and skills, even if they are less Years of life under your belt than you!