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I am 44. I just started playing guitar. How good can I expect to get?

I saw this interesting question on Quora the other day, and thought I would post my answer in the blog in hopes of offering encouragement to anyone wanting to play.

I am 44. I just started playing guitar. How good can I expect to get?

It is never too late to start the guitar.  I’ve had students much older than you start to learn guitar without any problems.  

Some things I’ve noticed within myself and other adults when learning or playing guitar.

– While to an extent, it matters how much time you put into it, what matters more is how you use that time.  The more open you are to changing habits/approaching a problem in your playing in a different/new way will make the learning process much faster.  

– There is a saying, “Practice makes perfect.”  I think this is incorrect.  It’s more like “Practice makes permanent.”  I wouldn’t drill the same thing over and over again if you having a really hard time with it, because it is likely something in your playing needs to be evaluated, and tweaked.  If you continue to practice something in the “wrong” way, you will create a habit out of it, which will be harder to fix as time goes on.

– As we get older, our bodies can’t handle the stress or tension of practicing for long periods of time.  Taking breaks often inbetween practicing is key.  

– Playing with/for others is only a benefit to your own playing.  It’s often too hard to critically analyze your own playing at the sametime that you play.  While recording yourself is a really good way to practice and analyze yourself, there is a lot of benefit to playing music with others because you get feedback on how your playing is and what you should change.  Having a teacher is also tremendously helpful because they can be the critical analyzer that pinpoints exactly what you should improve to help your playing.

But ultimately it comes down to your interest and your commitment to learning the instrument.  Practicing is different from messing around or “noodling” on guitar, so that’s when your interest and commitment will hopefully keep you going.

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