Blog

Teaching Adults

Teaching adults music is both rewarding and challenging!

Rewards

I enjoy teaching adults. During the course of their lesson, our conversations together are very stimulating. The stories they relate from their own life experiences are a great source of enrichment and entertainment. Over the weeks and months, we form good friendships together. From a practical point of view, teaching adults can also help to strengthen our teaching businesses. Adults can often come later in the evening when it’s too late for younger pupils, or if they are retired or work shifts, they might be able to come in the daytime.

One thing I like about adults is their high level of motivation. They seem to fall into either one of two categories. Those who started having lessons as children but stopped for one reason or another. And those who simply never had the chance earlier in life. Either way, they have probably wanted to take up lessons for quite a considerable time and are therefore incredibly determined.

Challenges

Adults often tell me that they don’t think they can make very quick progress because they are “too old!” However, what their brains may lack in speed is often made up by their tenacity.

I have found that I need to be careful to use methods that are suitable. If they feel they are being taught using child-friendly approaches, they will quickly feel discouraged and demotivated.

One of the biggest challenges is self-esteem. A common issue I’ve encountered is adults being dismissive and critical of their achievements. “I should be progressing faster.” “I can play it perfectly at home.” “Others probably learn quicker than me.” Constant reassurance and kindness are needed.

Children often wait at the start of the lesson for my direction but adults sometimes launch into a lengthy spiel of what they’ve been working on and what they still can’t do! I’ve found it important to take charge at the outset of the lesson and to get them playing as soon as possible. Otherwise, much time can be wasted.

Most adults really enjoy doing written theory examinations but very few have the desire or the nerve for a practical exam. Working through an exam syllabus without the pressure of taking the assessment seems to work well for some of my mature students.

Conclusion

Teaching adults can be a very rewarding experience on so many levels. If you can help them to have confidence in their abilities, they can go on to become good musicians bring themselves and their friends and family much pleasure.

About the Author

Reuben Vincent
Reuben Vincent is a freelance musician working as a composer, producer and private music teacher, based from his purpose built recording studio in Bagillt, Flintshire, North Wales, UK. His main instrument is the piano although he is also known for a "mean" solo on the Kazoo!!!

1 Comment

  1. Carla

    I appreciated your article and I agree! Adult students are very enjoyable! I do have a question in regards to adult beginners especially. In my experience, each of mine have seemed to hit a certain point after which their speed of progress seems to plateau in comparison to my younger students who continue to become quite proficient. Each of my seven students over the years have been in their 50s and 60s. Other than being able to play individual songs they have on their goal list, how proficiently should I expect them to be able to play after a couple years of lessons? Is there something I can do better as a teacher that differs from the way I teach my young students?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *