Teaching music lessons can be a demanding, exhausting activity, but it can also be tremendously satisfactory as the teacher watches a student work hard and build musical understanding, technical proficiency, and most important, gain an identity with music that leads to greater identity with other living creatures.
I perform in local concerts very frequently, and I am often approached after concerts by people who say, "I played piano (or guitar, or cello or clarinet) when I was younger, but I quit when I was a teenager and I'd really love to start playing again. I'm sure you don't want to teach a beginner, but could you recommend someone who would like to work with me?"
Others tell me they have NEVER played a musical instrument and can't read music, but they have reaching a stage in life where it's important to learn to play music.
These people are often surprised, even incredulous, when I tell them that adults are among my favorite students and I'd be happy to work with them if our mutual schedules will allow it. If our schedules create unsolvable problems, I always recommend other music teachers for these happy souls who want to begin serious music study during their mid-lives or later years.
Most music teachers are VERY happy to work with older students, who generally display great concentration during lessons and determined practice between lessons. Adults study a musical instrument, whether it's guitar, piano, French horn or violin, because they have made a deliberate decision to do so. They know they want to learn to play that instrument, and they are willing to make significant efforts to do so.
I like teaching adults because they have the ability to listen intelligently and with great focus during lessons. They are willing to try new techniques and to re-visit old ones they may have learned many years ago. They ask good questions and they understand that to make progress, they will need to spend time practicing their skills in preparation for the next lesson.
I spoke with many teachers of private and class music lessons, and they all agreed that teaching adult students is one of their favorite activities.
Many performers are also teachers, so if you see a musician whose work you like, don't hesitate to ask for lessons. Ask other adults for recommendations, or ask the local music stores if they offer lessons or can suggest a teacher. Both Hartwick College and the State University College at Oneonta Music Department employ teachers with whom you may wish to study. There are many fine instrumental teachers in this part of New York, so adults have a wide choice of instructors.
We have good local music stores that can provide musical instruments. If you decide to buy a used instrument or find one on the Internet, it's generally a good idea to get the advice of your teacher before you make that purchase.
Adult musicians who do not make a living with musical performance are often called "amateurs," and this wonderful word reminds us of the value our music can bring to us.
The word "amateur" comes from the French word "amateur," meaning "lover of," and that word comes from the Latin word, " amatorem," meaning, "lover." Amateurs are people who play music because they love it, and they love sharing it with others.
Sharing your music has the potential to offer such joy and satisfaction that it can be difficult to describe in words, so one of the adult music student's goals might be to find a group of other enthusiastic amateurs with whom to play music.
Here are some opportunities for finding other musicians who share your musical tastes and who would like to have fun building their musical skills. Other groups are easy to find on the Internet, listed in The Daily Star or other community resources:
Oneonta Community Band: René Prins, Rene.Prins@oneonta.edu.
Adult Rock Camp: www.campjam.com/adult-rock-camp.html.
Adult Chamber Music Camp: college.interlochen.org/program/adult-chamber-music-camp.
The Chamber Music Network: The ACMP Foundation was formed in 1993 to foster the playing of chamber musics. Since 1994, ACMP has awarded 2,987 grants totaling more than $3.95 million for programs and projects around the world that promote participatory chamber music activities, www.acmp.net/grants, www.acmp.net/index.php and /www.acmp.net/resources.
Kammermusik Workshops: Designed primarily for woodwind players, but some opportunities for string players, too: www.kammermusikworkshops.org/
Making Music: Adult musicians of many musical styles: www.makingmusicmag.com/camps/index.php?camp�or�workshop=all&genre=all&instruments=all®ions=NE.
Take lessons, join a group, have fun and work hard. Music is a never-ending gift to yourself and to others.
Dr. Janet Nepkie is a member of the music industry faculty in the music department of the State University College at Oneonta. Her columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/musicbeat.