Am I Too Old to Play?

There’s plenty of evidence to support that learning an instrument and learning how to make music will rewire your brain in a good way. It’s a no-brainer—music is beneficial to the nourishment and wellbeing of the soul, brain, and heart. If you want something bad enough, you’re going to find a way to get it. I put aside my age, fears and doubts about being too old to achieve musical proficiency on the guitar and made a commitment to myself that I’m going to devote the rest of my life to music.

I have physical limitations, such as arthritic fingers and relatively small hands, which fueled many of my doubts about being able to finger the fretboard and form chord shapes. My cognitive abilities have slowed over the years and my reaction times are not as fast as when I was a younger man. Though items were quickly adding up in the deficit column, I had read enough about others who have gone before me and achieved a decent level of instrument proficiency and musical expression by overcoming their own limitations. Letting fear and doubt linger can drain the well of enthusiasm bone dry. Everyone has a unique set of circumstances that may limit their musical outcome, but for me the only way to know if I can do it was to just stop thinking about it and start playing.

During my early weeks I communicated all my fears and doubts to my music sensei, Andrew. He was not concerned and reassured me that I could develop a decent set of chops and achieve instrument proficiency through practice, courage, perseverance, unwavering determination, repetition, and more practice and repetition. I make every effort to optimize what I have left in me physically and emotionally. I continuously cut back my nails on my fretting hand to expose the very tips of my fingers; I exercise my hands with 7-pound Grip Masters to increase the strength in my crooked, arthritic fingers; I develop and maintain calluses just shy of using Super Glue on my finger tips; and for emotional strength training, I focus on the here and now of making my journey, not the journey’s end.

To be bluntly honest, I would have given up if I had made the decision to learn guitar through self-study. Those who have learned their craft on their own I admire, but for me I needed interactivity and constructive feedback. I located a professional jazz musician with above-average credentials who was accepting students. My experience as a hiring manager in my retired field of information technology told me Andrew was a good discovery. His instruction in guitar and music is worth every dollar to me. He imparts to me knowledge and practice tips that are absent in the self-study materials I’ve used as supplements to my music studies, and I highly recommend seeking out a good music teacher who has experience training older adults.

So am I too old to acquire proficiency in guitar and for making the journey as a musician? Hell no!