Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano

Posted by: pianozuki

Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 03/29/13 06:08 PM

What sort of special problems might he have, if any, compared to, say, a 45-year-old? He has no signs of either senility or arthritis, but has never attempted to learn any instrument before.

I'm referring him to the Advice on finding a teacher for returning adult thread in this forum. He lives in Denver and has some excellent contacts at Denver University's Lamont School of Music, but I think he needs some encouragement to take up the piano from scratch at his age.
Posted by: pianopaws

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 03/29/13 06:52 PM

I once taught a delightful lady in her 70s. She said playing piano helped alleviate stiffness in her hands and gave her brain a great workout. So my advice to your friend would be go for it! Everyone has challenges when learning piano, regardless of age. Recommend that he takes his time finding a teacher that is a good fit personality wise, and receptive to what his goals are with learning the piano.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 03/29/13 07:48 PM

No issues whatsoever. Except that adults tend to be embarrassed about themselves, and tend to put limits on themselves. Piano teachers often do this as well to their adult students. Tell your friend to find someone who actually delights in teaching adults, and tell him more than likely his contacts at the Lamont School of Music will either be worthless or point him in the *wrong* direction.

Better to speak to a couple of church musicians, and a couple of independent studio piano teachers, and take a couple of trial lessons before any commitment to a teacher. OTH, the nice thing about seniors is that they are willing to put up with bad teaching and still get good things out of it.

If he wants to go the warm-and-fuzzy group lesson route, there's the whole Recreational Music Making fad.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 03/29/13 08:09 PM

Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose

Better to speak to a couple of church musicians, and a couple of independent studio piano teachers, and take a couple of trial lessons before any commitment to a teacher. OTH, the nice thing about seniors is that they are willing to put up with bad teaching ...


Seriously? That's a good thing?
Posted by: pianozuki

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 03/29/13 10:08 PM

@Peter K. Mose
"tell him more than likely his contacts at the Lamont School of Music will either be worthless or point him in the *wrong* direction."

Why do you think so?
Posted by: catpiano

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 03/29/13 10:12 PM

My advice: Go for it!

I taught an older guy for about two years. Not sure how old exactly but I would guess in the 65-70 range. He was a wonderful student. He came to me with no musical background, no sense of rhythm, and horribly stiff fingers. He progressed beautifully and most importantly found so much joy in it.

Your friend should have no reservations about starting lessons, but he should make sure he finds a teacher who has no reservations about teaching him.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 03/29/13 10:41 PM

As long as they do not have dementia, Alzheimer or arthritis, I am sure they can learn to play piano.

Watch out for the "personality of the senior”. If they cannot take it easy and refuse to learn “baby” things, then I think we will have hard time to progress.
Posted by: Charles Cohen

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 03/29/13 11:23 PM

I have a decent background in music, but I never sang.

I started lessons a year and a half ago, at age 66, with a teacher who has a fair stable of older students. We have a good time. My voice sounds a _lot_ better now, than it did then.

Her approach is to teach whatever the student wants to learn. That approach may not be natural for somebody teaching in a music-school environment (there's a syllabus, exams, recitals, etc), but it's working well for her and me.

The only way for him to know whether he'll enjoy piano:

. . . Find a teacher, and take some lessons.

Good luck! And commendations to him for having the guts to try something completely unknown.

. Charles
Posted by: catpiano

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 03/29/13 11:31 PM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
As long as they do not have dementia, Alzheimer or arthritis, I am sure they can learn to play piano.

Watch out for the "personality of the senior”. If they cannot take it easy and refuse to learn “baby” things, then I think we will have hard time to progress.


That's not limited to the senior, in my experience. Lots of my 30(ish)+ students have had this attitude.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 03/30/13 01:42 AM

I don't have any knowledge about the Lamont School of Music, and now that I scan its website, it looks more friendly than I might have guessed. Your pal in Denver can speak to anyone involved with music education to gather names of potential piano teachers, including Lamont faculty. (From their bios, I'd try Joseph Galema, Conrad Kehn, or even Suzuki strings lady Carol Tarr.)

But the broader issue is this: piano teaching as a profession tends to avoid the adult learner, or treat the adult learner as a pleasant diversion. So asking a piano professor for a referral to a studio teacher tends to be unhelpful. Much better to ask a couple of Denver adult novice pianists about the teachers they have had.
Posted by: Overexposed

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 03/30/13 08:52 AM

pianozuki, one of my first students was 65. One thing I would do differently is that next time around I would not encourage memorization. I encouraged her to memorize a primer level piece, and her inability to memorize may have been discouraging to her.

Or at least test the waters and if there is any resistance to memorization, then let it alone.
Posted by: Michael_99

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 03/31/13 10:47 PM

pianozuki,

I have read the post, here:

What sort of special problems might he have, if any, compared to, say, a 45-year-old?
He has no signs of either senility or arthritis, but has never attempted to learn any instrument before.

I'm referring him to the Advice on finding a teacher for returning adult thread in this forum. He lives in Denver and has some excellent contacts at Denver University's Lamont School of Music, but I think he needs some encouragement to take up the piano from scratch at his age.


Age is not an issue. One thing that is not an issue
for age, but if a person has typed, for example, he has used his fingers and hands - or if he played the piano and then learned to type at 70, it helps. If he was a boxer, or a labourer, he might have huge hands and huge fingers and he may have some trouble.
But having said that, I have never heard of anyone not being able to play the piano because of big hands or fat fingers, so I don't know.

Regardless of age, you have to go very, very, very, very slowly when learning the piano - everybody - so he can't attempt to go faster because he is 70! !

I am almost 65 and I have to go slowly, too.

So the answer is, yes, he will do just fine.

Now that they have digital pianos for 600 dollars and less, we can have one in our resthome instead of a chair - just a digital piano and a bed!
Posted by: LoPresti

Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 04/01/13 02:12 AM

Originally Posted By: pianozuki
What sort of special problems might he have, if any . . . . but I think he needs some encouragement to take up the piano from scratch at his age.

Red Flag?

If this is your friend's motivation, then why would he need any encouragement? If it is NOT his own idea -- well, then probably no amount of encouragment will being good results. (Has nothing to do with age - the same for all adult students.)
Posted by: dmd

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 04/01/13 07:22 AM



Originally Posted By: pianozuki

Quote:

What sort of special problems might he have, if any . . . . but I think he needs some encouragement to take up the piano from scratch at his age.





Originally Posted By: LoPresti

Red Flag?



I agree. If he is not chomping at the bit to get started and browsing keyboards at the local music shops ...

If someone is pushing him into this and he is reluctantly going along ... this might not work.

This idea has to have come from him.


[/quote]
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 04/01/13 12:44 PM

Ed, Don, and others: adults almost always need encouragement to begin learning the piano, and the older they are, the more encouragement they need. This may not appear logical - you may reasonably think that one is either self-motivated or else piano study won't work - but we live in a competitive and youth-obsessed society that doesn't value the older learner, and this just conspires to make older adults think they cannot do something which indeed they can do.

Just this weekend I interviewed a woman in her 70s who had a deep desire to learn the piano, yet was very afraid I might laugh at her for wanting to embark on such a journey at her age. Such fears turn up constantly among older learners, and many piano teachers are far from welcoming in their attitudes.

Peter

P.S. We're going to start up soon, after further convalescence from her hip surgery.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 04/01/13 03:23 PM

I work in a large music store with numerous teachers who teach a wide variety of instruments.

I have never seen any "unwelcoming attitudes" from those teachers regarding adults.

In fact, a significant proportion of the students are adults, and the teachers welcome them because, unlike children, the adults are choosing to study, and thus are more likely to actually practice, bring their books, and show up for lessons.

ps...we like children as students also.
Posted by: LoPresti

Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 04/02/13 01:25 AM

Hi Peter,

Unfortuantely, I do not enjoy the wide-angle perspective you have from your teaching experience, but just for the sake of discussion -- maybe it’s the word “encouragement” --

I continue to worry about the notion that a potential student needs encouragement, even before starting the study. If I were undertaking to learn some fairly complex, unfamiliar skill, at this time in my life, I would certainly quality as an OLDER learner. Let’s say playing golf, for example.

Speaking personally, the only way I could stand ANY CHANCE of becoming good at the game is if I went into it with a burning desire to learn. It is I who would have to disregard the popular notion that I am too old to start. It is I who would have to ignore all the well-intentioned advice to save my money, and stay at home. It is I who would have to drag myself onto the links regularly to practice. It would have to be my idea, and my motivation, coming from within. Again, personally, no amount of external encouragement would get me to play a good game of golf.

Ed
Posted by: keystring

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 04/02/13 10:18 AM

Burning desire is not always enough though it helps. You may need to walk a mile in such shoes. I found myself in a studio after family members bought me an instrument, so that it would almost be embarrassing not to take lessons, feeling like a complete fraud. "What am I doing here? Kids belong here." and similar nonsense. The first time someone mentioned that my body was not in the skill-developing stage like a child's, with my mind supposedly less flexible, I was all to ready to accept this as a truth. In fact I confronted my teacher of the time with it dead on, telling him that if he was teaching me out of pity, I'd rather he tell me and I could make room for a more suitable (read: "young") student. I was told "Do you have any idea how well you are doing?" ... which I hadn't. As adults, we hear we're out of tune, poor timing yadda yadda.

The older student is undermined in a dozen ways which I don't have to list here.

Passion itself can get in the way, because if it matters so very much, but you feel that because of what is said about your age you will be merely tolerated, then that can lead to a kind of paralysis or call it anxiety. The encouragement should be there. But not an encouragement that pushes someone into such an activity if the desire is not there. I agree to that part.
Posted by: Michael_99

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 04/02/13 01:35 PM

Nice post, keystring

I have read your post, here:

Burning desire is not always enough though it helps. You may need to walk a mile in such shoes. I found myself in a studio after family members bought me an instrument, so that it would almost be embarrassing not to take lessons, feeling like a complete fraud. "What am I doing here? Kids belong here." and similar nonsense. The first time someone mentioned that my body was not in the skill-developing stage like a child's, with my mind supposedly less flexible, I was all to ready to accept this as a truth. In fact I confronted my teacher of the time with it dead on, telling him that if he was teaching me out of pity, I'd rather he tell me and I could make room for a more suitable (read: "young") student. I was told "Do you have any idea how well you are doing?" ... which I hadn't. As adults, we hear we're out of tune, poor timing yadda yadda.

The older student is undermined in a dozen ways which I don't have to list here.

Passion itself can get in the way, because if it matters so very much, but you feel that because of what is said about your age you will be merely tolerated, then that can lead to a kind of paralysis or call it anxiety. The encouragement should be there. But not an encouragement that pushes someone into such an activity if the desire is not there. I agree to that part.


I failed grades 1 and 3. I am dyslexic, memory problems. It was determination that got me through life.

I remember traveling from Canada to college in San Francisco, to go to college during the Vietnam - was in 1969 and a school staff person said to me - I was 19 years old - "you have no natural ability", whatever that means, and I said should I leave, and they said, no - because I was paying money to go to college, so... It can be confusing when you are trying to learn something without positive feedback.
But having said that, you have to chart your course and never, ever quit, just keep trying - you may have blocks in your way - but you work around them - just keep focused on your goal.

I never thought I would have a chance to play the piano but here I am at almost 65, loving slowly playing the piano.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 04/02/13 02:36 PM

Somewhat OT, but here goes. Isn't it strange how people read things differently? When I first saw the topic, I wondered, why on earth would someone be looking for a teacher for a friend from way back in the 70's. I have a number of 70's friends who have taken up piano, but they're only in their early 50's, so what's the big deal? After seeing the topic blossom, I decided to see what all the fuss was about, and realized I had taken the topic literally!
Posted by: TimR

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 04/02/13 04:05 PM

John............you remember the 70's?????????????

My recollections are....ahem......vague.
Posted by: manyhands

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 04/02/13 08:57 PM

My '70s recollections are bright and clear; at 60 I began lessons with a wonderful teacher who is positive and flexible in guiding me along over the last 3.5 years. As I learn to play classic pops of my choice, and classical lesson pieces, my skills grow. She doesn't ask for memorization or perfection, knowing that as skills are used over and over they become ingrained. The hardest part is wanting to go to the lesson and play perfectly, having learned as a student in life that the job is to ace the test. Piano doesn't work that way, which can be humbling, but good humor on the teacher's part helps a lot. She's kind to say, "OK, now we've got that over with, let's do it again." and again is always better! smile Tell your friend not to miss this joy!
Posted by: malkin

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 04/03/13 09:32 AM

I don't have much advice for a person 75 years old or so--except to have a good time.

Important advice for a friend from the 1970s is to do a wardrobe update and most especially to get a haircut!
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 04/03/13 11:20 AM

Originally Posted By: malkin
Important advice for a friend from the 1970s is to do a wardrobe update and most especially to get a haircut!

Posted by: R0B

Re: Requesting advice for mid-70's friend starting piano - 04/03/13 11:27 AM

I would hang on to that 70's wardrobe.
It will be back in fashion anytime soon laugh

But there are many fine teachers who are in their 70's!
Why shouldn't there be equally fine students?