Are You Really Ready to Make Music?

April 16, 1995|By Glenn McNatt

Thinking of taking music lessons but worried about whether you're ready for the challenge? Here are five questions you might ask yourself before you take the plunge:

1. Am I too old?

No one is ever too old to study or to learn. There's nothing mystical about learning to play an instrument; it's a matter of learning the basics and building on them through practice. If you've never studied music before, everything will be new and unfamiliar, but don't be discouraged.

2. Do I have the desire?

"Adults generally take up an instrument because they have a need for a certain kind of communion with themselves and with others that you can only get through music," says Marjorie Liss, who specializes in teaching piano to adults at the preparatory school of the Peabody Institute. "It can be a desire to be heard, to participate rather than be played at, to touch others. Whatever it is, it's a feeling first of all. And the people who have it know they have it."

3. Can I afford it?

Music instruction varies widely in cost, from free instruction in church choirs and community choruses to individual lessons with a private teacher affiliated with a conservatory or college. Private lessons can range anywhere from $15 to $60 a lesson, depending on the length of the lesson, the type of instruction and the qualifications of the teacher. Many teachers are willing to work out payment plans to fit your schedule and budget.

4. Do I have time to practice?

Today's busy professionals often find they have more money to spare than time. But regular practice is essential if you are to make real progress. When it comes to practice time, quality is more important than quantity; you need to find a regular block of time free from interruptions and distractions.

5. How do I pick the right teacher?

Try to find out as much about a prospective teacher's background and qualifications as possible. Academic credentials can be important, but often they are not the most significant factor. How well do you hit it off with the teacher? Does he or she seem genuinely interested in trying to help you achieve your goals? How well does the teacher listen to what you say, as well as to what you play. Keep in mind that over the years you will spend many hours in the teacher's company, so it's important to choose someone you think you can get along with.

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