Mudcat Café message #783996 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #51437   Message #783996
Posted By: Don Firth
14-Sep-02 - 04:44 PM
Thread Name: Teaching Seniors to Play Instruments?
Subject: RE: Teaching Seniors to Play Instruments?
(Wow! I'm surprised at how ageist some of the above responses sound!)

Okay, kid! Who you callin' "senior!???" Arthritis? Alzheimer's? Drop the preconceptions! You may find some seniors that are sharper than you are.

One of the most enthusiastic guitar students I ever had was well into his seventies. He wasn't doing it for some kind of "occupational therapy," he really wanted to learn, so he had a lot of incentive. He'd been an engineer all his life, had never played a musical instrument, and had always wanted to, so he decided "now or never!"

We started out with Aaron Shearer's beginning classic guitar manual because he said he wanted to learn it right and not just play chords. After the first couple of lessons, I noticed that he'd written what looked like fractions by certain notes. I asked about them and he explained that he was trying to memorize which notes were where, and until he got it down solid, they were a memory aid. The top number was the left hand finger, the bottom number was the string. Thinkin' like an engineer! He picked up reading music right away because he immediately grasped the logic of the system. Same with chord structure and more complex music theory.

He learned to play pretty darn well. He was no Segovia, but he could play several pieces—from memory—and he learned a number songs (lots more than two chords, by the way). Nice singing voice, too; not at all old and creaky.

Plunge in with an open mind. This may an opportunity for you to learn a lot!

Don Firth