Learning to Play Instruments at an Older Age

The place for musicians to share their knowledge and ideas about music and remixing, and to post WIP snippets and feedback. Also suggest tunes for remixing, here.
Post Reply
User avatar
Rubinstein
Commodore Fan
Commodore Fan
Posts: 12
Joined: 22/03/2009 - 20:59

Learning to Play Instruments at an Older Age

Post by Rubinstein »

(Sorry to pester you with so many questions in this thread! The questions about age, learning material and the amount of practice are the most essential!)

I’m a 25-year old guy who’s decided to start learning to play acoustic, electric & base guitar and different keyboard instruments (probably piano and MIDI-masterkeyboard). As I’ve found this site (Remix64) pretty interesting, no one should be surprised to find out that the goal of eventually being able to play and “mess around” with old SIDs & MODs acts as a spur for me to start practicing. :) Nevertheless, since I don’t have any previous experience of playing instruments, I might well have a long and difficult road before me. Despite this I was, however, a bit relieved because now that I tried to play my old acoustic guitar a little, I noticed that it’s not overly hard if you just realize that training is the keyword: I was able to learn some guitar scales with some perseverance (I’d venture to claim that barré chords are the most troublesome). However, my mind has been occupied by a couple of questions:

What are my chances of learning to play instruments anymore now that I’m as old as 25? I know that 25 is not the same as 10 in terms of learning to play instruments but AFAIK it shouldn’t be the same as 50 either.. It’s just that I don’t know to what extent all the age-related stuff e.g. about second language acquisition with its “critical periods” also applies to learning to play instruments. Of course some positive things such as experience and patience come with increasing years but I still reckon I’m past my prime for learning to play instruments. Do you think that, for example, my finger coordination (“finger motorics”) and hand dexterity needed for learning to play instruments has impaired significantly now that I’m in my twenties? Hahah at least I don’t, luckily, feel that my fingers would be particularly stiff, slow or clumsy… :lol: and I take for granted I’d be more patient than some 10-year-old madcap (unless, of course, I’ll be demanded more patience because the learning could be significantly slower now that I’m an old, decrepit man lol)! :wink: As you would expect, I know that it’s utterly impossible for me to become any Paul Gilbert, Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen, Jordan Rudess or Derek Sherinian but that’s not what I’m aiming at either. Making any exorbitant demands would be unrealistic…

What sort of learning material should I use? I know I’m going to use several different books (with accompanying CDs) but do you think that it’d be clever to resort to learning DVDs? I reckon that this learn-by-DVD type of training sounds very exciting but has anyone of you tried it out in practice yet? Moreover, if there are any books, CDs, DVDs oslt you can recommend, please feel free to tell me!

How much/often should I practice every week if I actually want to learn something at this age? I still have my social life and lots of other things taking the lion’s share of my time, and even though I’d have an infinite amount of time, it just occurred to me that since I’m a total beginner unaccustomed to playing instruments for several hours at a stretch, there might be a risk of stress injury.

It’d be very nice to be able to remix some of the old SIDs & MODs at some point when I’ve learnt to play the instruments and have sufficient knowledge of music theory. However, I’d probably need all sorts of software and equipment for remixing purposes, which doesn’t constitute any problem in itself, but I’m just thinking how demanding it’d be to learn to use and master the music software. (Hmh, now that I ponder on all this, it may quite well be that I won’t be able to remix nor play any old songs for years.)

By the way, all the worthwhile suggestions for MIDI-masterkeyboards, acoustic, electric & base guitars are welcome! A good price-quality ratio is of great importance here. It won’t matter if all the guitars are relatively cheap but the MIDI-masterkeyboard shouldn’t be any cheap supermarket Casio but neither any extortionately expensive Kurzweil with all the possible buttons and widgets. However, the keys (most preferably 61 or 88) should be weighted & graded/progressive/scaled (all of them meaning the same thing) and emulate those in a real piano at least with the help of features like touch response, weighted response/hammer action.. Those features are important because I want to get used to the feel of a real piano! I’m quite sure, however, that I won’t need such features as sequencers, sample mappers or oscillator emulators at this early stage. (Fiddling with a built-in sequencer on a keyboard with the help of some lousy 5 x 5-inch LED display and user interface designed by sadists would be sheer pain, I guess! :frustration: In so far as I know, computer software would probably serve the same purpose better!) I’ll buy a totally professional keyboard with all those features later on if I can be completely sure I like playing and once I’ve actually learnt to play well enough… And as for amateur keyboards, I don’t even know how many of them can be labeled as “toys” anymore because (according to Wikipedia) many inexpensive keyboards should have an array of features that would have been unavailable on even the most expensive synthesizers of past decades…

By the way, I’m new here, so for more info on me, you can read my “short” introduction here: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3238&start=135

User avatar
Romeo Knight
Supreme Strumming Daddy
Supreme Strumming Daddy
Posts: 1391
Joined: 20/05/2004 - 20:52
Location: Duesseldorf, Germany
Contact:

Re: Learning to Play Instruments at an Older Age

Post by Romeo Knight »

I hear this question (or concern) quite often and the best answer for me is always this:
I started playing guitar being 22 years old. It took me about 4-5 years to achieve the
technical skills that made it possible for me to almost play everything I wanted
(with the usual exceptions of course :-))
It's - like you said - all a matter of practice.
IMO starting to learn an instrument at "older" age has also advantages:
Usually you got more discipline and perseverance, and it's easier to focus
on the goal you maybe once set yourself to reach. You don't loose time and effort in
learning things you actually won't need to achieve this goal.
And depending on your previous musical knowledge and experiences you're
able to actually "play music with your instrument" faster rather than just
"play that instrument" (I don't know if I made the difference clear :-))
Image

User avatar
RobinsonMason
Forum Celebrity
Forum Celebrity
Posts: 336
Joined: 23/01/2009 - 16:38
Location: Magnolia, TX
Contact:

Re: Learning to Play Instruments at an Older Age

Post by RobinsonMason »

I know the feeling. For me at least it's the desire to remix some tunes on my own because the C64 remix community has ignored them, and I really really want to hear at least a 1:1 of some of my favorite game SIDs. I figure if they haven't been done by now (2009) and we have nearly 200 Last Ninja remixes out there, chances are slim my favorites will get done unless I get out there and do them myself. 8)

I was in a band for some years in Japan as the lead singer, and with the bassist I did some song writing, but he was the technician - I just helped.

When I was about 26 or so I took piano lessons and found I could pick it up pretty well - but I also had some experience with violin....speaking of which...only following the early stages of "learning by ear" w/Suzuki method (and then stopping playing) sucks, btw for learning how to read and write music when you're older. :P I pick up music very quickly and accurately by ear but I had to relearn and break the habit so I could properly read/write sheet music.

As for what synth -- come on, all you need is Music Maker! :P :D :wink:

Image

If you want something bigger and with more wires, go the Wendy Carlos route.

Image

User avatar
Jan Lund Thomsen
Forum Admin
Forum Admin
Posts: 1143
Joined: 25/11/2002 - 13:16
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Contact:

Re: Learning to Play Instruments at an Older Age

Post by Jan Lund Thomsen »

Rubinstein wrote:What are my chances of learning to play instruments anymore now that I’m as old as 25?
You call that old? I'm 39 and I started taking piano-lessons two months ago. :)

User avatar
RobinsonMason
Forum Celebrity
Forum Celebrity
Posts: 336
Joined: 23/01/2009 - 16:38
Location: Magnolia, TX
Contact:

Re: Learning to Play Instruments at an Older Age

Post by RobinsonMason »

Jan Lund Thomsen wrote: You call that old? I'm 39 and I started taking piano-lessons two months ago. :)
Does that mean we can look forward to Jan Lund Thomsen remixes?! :shock:

User avatar
Analog-X64
I Adore My 64
I Adore My 64
Posts: 3597
Joined: 08/12/2002 - 3:50
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: Learning to Play Instruments at an Older Age

Post by Analog-X64 »

I will turn 39 Next month. It might take me a bit longer than before, but not that much longer.

I keep my mind sharp but learning new things every day in multiple topics.

So at 25 you will be quite alright.
d[-.-]b (+[___]x)d(>_<)b 52656d697836342e636f6d2073696d706c7920726f636b732120
Image

User avatar
Jan Lund Thomsen
Forum Admin
Forum Admin
Posts: 1143
Joined: 25/11/2002 - 13:16
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Contact:

Re: Learning to Play Instruments at an Older Age

Post by Jan Lund Thomsen »

RobinsonMason wrote:Does that mean we can look forward to Jan Lund Thomsen remixes?! :shock:
Truth be told, I'd never given it any thought. As far as I'm concerned the piano is a great excuse to spend less time on the computer, not more. :D

User avatar
Doddsy
Forum Celebrity
Forum Celebrity
Posts: 261
Joined: 11/10/2008 - 10:58
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: Learning to Play Instruments at an Older Age

Post by Doddsy »

I don't think age should be much of a problem once you learn the basics. That being scales and chords. You could even play it by ear and record it into your fav sequencer.

The one thing I've learned about doing these remixes is you may be a gifted musician or maybe have the most expensive synth you can afford, but you also need experience in the mixing down department as well. So look into the world of compressors, exciters, desks and mastering software, that part is overlooked and its where the difference between just a good track and great track is shown. This only comes with experience of your equipment and postive feedback from your listerners.

Razmo
Forum God
Forum God
Posts: 1235
Joined: 11/11/2003 - 12:53
Location: Har Akir, Ravenloft

Re: Learning to Play Instruments at an Older Age

Post by Razmo »

The typpical problem with learning something new when you get older is that most grown ups have no time to PLAY... yes, just like children does... Grown up's quickly get frustrated, that they KNOW what they want, but cannot reach the goal FAST! and as such give up because it "sounds bad, and I do not have the tallent!"...

This is Bulls...! everyone can learn something new, and all it takes is to find the "child in you" and start having fun with it, and stop comparing it to all the pro stuff out there, from people who HAVE been playing for many years... Rome was not build in one day.

The kriteria to learning to play is to have fun, and play because you enjoy the PROCESS and not the OUTCOME... that is what kids do, and that is how they learn.

But I agree... it's REALLY HARD, when you want to be perfect in two weeks time :lol:

I learned assembly coding on AMIGA in my youth by playing around having fun with my fellow Kefrens members... today I've TRIED to learn assembly on PC as well... but I have given up, simply because I want to be able to do the same on the PC that I can on AMIGA... in half an hour :roll: ... I do NOT have the patience to PLAY AROUND and learn over a longer period of time.

summa summarum: Have fun, play around and stop comparing to others, it will only make you depressed in the end, and eventually give up. And remember: you're as good as what you put into it...
Regards, Jess D. Skov-Nielsen (Razmo).
Image

Razmo
Forum God
Forum God
Posts: 1235
Joined: 11/11/2003 - 12:53
Location: Har Akir, Ravenloft

Re: Learning to Play Instruments at an Older Age

Post by Razmo »

Jan Lund Thomsen wrote:
Rubinstein wrote:What are my chances of learning to play instruments anymore now that I’m as old as 25?
You call that old? I'm 39 and I started taking piano-lessons two months ago. :)
All you need is a keyboard, and a strong desire to WANT to learn Jan... I've never taken one single leson in my life regarding music at all... just had fun playin' around with my grandma's organ from a very young age :lol:

anyways, one of the things I find really hard is to play with two hands... for some obscure reason, I seem to be able to do very little with the "offhand" when playing ... (and PLEASE, no dirty comments from anyone... thank you! :lol: )
Regards, Jess D. Skov-Nielsen (Razmo).
Image

Razmo
Forum God
Forum God
Posts: 1235
Joined: 11/11/2003 - 12:53
Location: Har Akir, Ravenloft

Re: Learning to Play Instruments at an Older Age

Post by Razmo »

Jan Lund Thomsen wrote:
RobinsonMason wrote:Does that mean we can look forward to Jan Lund Thomsen remixes?! :shock:
Truth be told, I'd never given it any thought. As far as I'm concerned the piano is a great excuse to spend less time on the computer, not more. :D
He he!... be carefull Jan... when you learned the basics, you'll end up with a giga homestudio in half a years time, struggling to spit out new remixes and avoiding gear-sickness... just like so many others of us... I see it in my scrying-bones! :lol:
Regards, Jess D. Skov-Nielsen (Razmo).
Image

Razmo
Forum God
Forum God
Posts: 1235
Joined: 11/11/2003 - 12:53
Location: Har Akir, Ravenloft

Re: Learning to Play Instruments at an Older Age

Post by Razmo »

Doddsy wrote:I don't think age should be much of a problem once you learn the basics. That being scales and chords. You could even play it by ear and record it into your fav sequencer.

The one thing I've learned about doing these remixes is you may be a gifted musician or maybe have the most expensive synth you can afford, but you also need experience in the mixing down department as well. So look into the world of compressors, exciters, desks and mastering software, that part is overlooked and its where the difference between just a good track and great track is shown. This only comes with experience of your equipment and postive feedback from your listerners.
Agree... knowing the basics of mixing is really important... but more I'll say it's important to know how sounds work in frequencies and such... if you know how different sounds work together, you can end up with a piece that does not need much mixing in the end.

In the past, I had a tendency to clash loads of different instruments together at once, and this makes the sound very "muddy"... you have to KNOW, that when you HAVE picked that cool bass sound, that then the bass frequency range is occupied... no other instruments should get near those frequencies unless you are looking for a specific effect by doing so.

This is why so many of the SID tunes never seem "muddy"... they have only three channels, and you have to "interleave" several sounds on the same track, like bass and drums on the same channel for example... doing this those instruments will never play at the same time, thus eliminating the "muddyness"...

In many tracks it's a good idear to go by the rule that less is better... there are so many things and elements that can clog everything up.

Making a piece of music is one big jigsaw puzzle... and A LOT can be done during composing to minimise the need for mixing with EQ and compressors... EQ can be done by simply choosing the right instruments, and compression by adjusting each instruments ADSR parameters... finetuning can be left for the mixing process.
Regards, Jess D. Skov-Nielsen (Razmo).
Image

User avatar
Rubinstein
Commodore Fan
Commodore Fan
Posts: 12
Joined: 22/03/2009 - 20:59

Re: Learning to Play Instruments at an Older Age

Post by Rubinstein »

Thanks for all the comments! It's good to hear that it's still possible to learn to play most instruments (perhaps some instruments, like violin, are exceptions though)!
Romeo Knight wrote:I hear this question (or concern) quite often and the best answer for me is always this: I started playing guitar being 22 years old. It took me about 4-5 years to achieve the technical skills that made it possible for me to almost play everything I wanted (with the usual exceptions of course :-)) It's - like you said - all a matter of practice. IMO starting to learn an instrument at "older" age has also advantages: Usually you got more discipline and perseverance, and it's easier to focus on the goal you maybe once set yourself to reach. You don't loose time and effort in learning things you actually won't need to achieve this goal. And depending on your previous musical knowledge and experiences you're able to actually "play music with your instrument" faster rather than just "play that instrument" (I don't know if I made the difference clear :-))
-A good post! Perhaps you just hit the nail on the head so to speak! :)

By the way, are you the Romeo Knight who's made Amiga SoundTracker modules like "1989 - A Number," "Cream of the Earth," "Dyna Blasters End Tune" and "Rise up?" If you are the same guy, thanks for all the great Amiga music! :worship:

Have you thought about remixing "1989 - A Number" at any point? It seems to be the only one of those four songs that hasn't been arranged yet (at least I couldn't find any remix at AmigaRemix.com)!
RobinsonMason wrote:As for what synth -- come on, all you need is Music Maker! :P :D :wink:
-Music Maker? Geez! I have to try that one just for fun! Where can it be downloaded? I didn't find it at GameBase64.com for some reason (and they have "everything" there)! :D

This is totally OT, but what tracker do people often even use while composing SID music? At least Lasse Öörni's "GoatTracker" (a cross-platform tracker) seems to be relatively popular and it works under Linux as well (and apparently you don't need to run it with any C64 emulator). Anyhow, the list of all the possible audio trackers for C64 seems pretty long: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_au ... mmodore_64
RobinsonMason wrote:If you want something bigger and with more wires, go the Wendy Carlos route.
-Hahah I wonder if they even have those kind of huge machines for sale anymore! That gigantic contrivance wouldn't even necessarily go in every room because of its size! The one who's gonna buy something like that will have to do some explaining to his wife... "Honey I just bought a new vintage synth!" :D :wink:

But seriously, is that a Moog modular synthesizer? I wonder if Wendy Carlos used the Moog synthesizer for the soundtrack of the film "A Clockwork Orange!" :?:
Jan Lund Thomsen wrote:As far as I'm concerned the piano is a great excuse to spend less time on the computer, not more. :D
-And much sooner than you can even anticipate you'll have to come up with something to spend less time on the piano! :) :wink:
Razmo wrote:The typpical problem with learning something new when you get older is that most grown ups have no time to PLAY... yes, just like children does... Grown up's quickly get frustrated, that they KNOW what they want, but cannot reach the goal FAST! and as such give up because it "sounds bad, and I do not have the tallent!"...
-But on the other hand some people might believe that grown ups would be more patient... :?:
Razmo wrote:This is why so many of the SID tunes never seem "muddy"... they have only three channels, and you have to "interleave" several sounds on the same track, like bass and drums on the same channel for example... doing this those instruments will never play at the same time, thus eliminating the "muddyness"...
-That's definitely one advantage of SID music!

User avatar
kjetiln
Forum Regular
Forum Regular
Posts: 91
Joined: 25/04/2005 - 22:03
Location: Norway, Bergen

Re: Learning to Play Instruments at an Older Age

Post by kjetiln »

Since I started playing keyboard at the age of 7, I can't really tell you how hard or easy it is to start when you're 25. I am 27 now, and have been playing almost every day, a couple of hours each day since I started. I play because it is fun, never because I have to. I only took lessons for a few years when my parents told me into it, and I don't regret it, I could only learn that much on my own.

I don't think I have a talent, I just really love to play. Today I can play pretty much what I want to play, that beeing playing by ear and feel, I never play from sheet music. I've seen people mastering the keyboard, in terms of beeing able to play really advanced pieces, in one year, starting from scratch. Of course, none of those seemed to have any fun practising, and they don't play no more.

My advice is to do a mix of both. Learn the basics, either by a teacher, books, internet or whatever, but spend most of the time having fun, getting to know your instrument. Start with simple goals, play tunes that you like :)

User avatar
Romeo Knight
Supreme Strumming Daddy
Supreme Strumming Daddy
Posts: 1391
Joined: 20/05/2004 - 20:52
Location: Duesseldorf, Germany
Contact:

Re: Learning to Play Instruments at an Older Age

Post by Romeo Knight »

Sorry, I just re-found this thread again
Rubinstein wrote: By the way, are you the Romeo Knight who's made Amiga SoundTracker modules like "1989 - A Number," "Cream of the Earth," "Dyna Blasters End Tune" and "Rise up?" If you are the same guy, thanks for all the great Amiga music! :worship:

Have you thought about remixing "1989 - A Number" at any point? It seems to be the only one of those four songs that hasn't been arranged yet (at least I couldn't find any remix at AmigaRemix.com)!
Yes, I am that same guy. :)
Funnily enough I was recently almost about to remix that old module when I was looking for additional song footage for the
concert with Xerxes @Breakpoint 2009. But time was short and so we ended up doing only 2 songs by me live.
Maybe for 2010....
Image

Post Reply