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Learing to play the piano in your 70s


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#1 73 year old Pianist

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Posted 15 July 2018 - 12:54

I put this post on the General Forum last night . Two people kindly replied ,one suggested this might be a better forum for this subject. Hence I have reposted it here :-

 

I am now 73 and started to play the piano 2 years ago when I was 71. 

 

I  had  some experience of playing an instrument before in that I played the violin as a schoolboy. I  started at age 9 and got  to grade 6 when I was 15. Unfortunately I moved schools a year later  and gave the violin up .

 

I get a lot of pleasure from the piano but have found playing it much more difficult than I had expected.  With regular practice and an excelllent teacher I am now about grade 1 level in terms of playing pieces , although at a higher level in terms of scales, arpeggios etc. 

 

 

I wonder if other any readers of this forum started to play in their 70s ?If so  I should be most interested to hear  how they found it .  


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#2 Rosamund1959

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Posted 15 July 2018 - 15:47

Amazing! I have started learning in my late fifties (so I shouldn't really be replying!) and have found it quite demanding so I really salute you! I find the nimbleness of fingers is hard to achieve so I do lots of finger exercises. I have a tendency to arthritis and have to have cortisone injections in my thumb joints a fortnight before exams to control the pain. I think that spurs me on to play as much as possible as I know I have limited movement which will only get worse.

 

Good luck with all you do.


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#3 Sylvette

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Posted 16 July 2018 - 09:18

Another late 50s starter here! 

 

It is never too late to learn something new, even if it is not as easy as it was 50 years ago.  I missed out on the chance to learn an instrument as a child, but I hope to be playing the piano until I am too decrepit to sit up at the keyboard!  


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#4 margaret

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 12:26

Hello 73 year old pianist and welcome to the Forums. I am a piano teacher and have taught quite a few older pupils including a number of 70+ year olds. It sounds like you are progressing very well. The piano looks SO easy when someone experienced plays it. They just sit there and without any obvious effort out comes all that lovely music. Learning to do this however is never easy. Its not easy for children or adults. 

 

I have not personally found that older students find it harder or easier than younger students. There are different challenges and being young brings some advantages but so does being older. The one thing I have found though is that older students are much more self-critical about their playing. They are concerned about their progress and only my older students ever ask me if they are progressing as fast as they should(!) I can identify with this as I started the violin about 5 years ago in my mid-50s. 

 

Co-ordinating the hands and fingers rarely comes easily. Reading two lines of music  is a challenge for anyone. Violin music generally only has one line so fistfuls of notes can be scary. I find these are the aspect of playing that my adults worry about. They often put the difficulty down to their age, or their flexibility, or their mental processes etc. However the truth is this type of multi-tasking is difficult for everyone. Slow careful, thoughtful, methodical practice will always reap results even if sometimes they are hard to see.

 

One thing I would stress though is the importance of keeping your eyes on the music and not on your hands. Just like on the violin you need to learn to "feel" where the notes are. The more music you see the faster you will be able to recognise patterns etc. Scales, broken chords, arpeggios are all excellent. Do them with your eyes Shut!

 

I hope you continue to get great pleasure out of your playing and am sure that in another year's time you will find you have improved more than you think.

 

...Now off to practice the violin!!

 

margaret


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#5 Zixi

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 10:15

I was in my 60s when I started the recorder. So yet another fraud!  I think anyone can do anything as long as they're prepared to put in the time but I say that as someone who has heard more 'reasons' than that as to why people can't draw, do maths or write software...

I think there are issues whatever age you start to learn. Adults tend to be more self critical and to think they're doing worse than they are!

My philosophy is to enjoy the learning process and to be as good at it as I can be in the time I have left. Sometimes when my fingers won't do as I want (a legacy of chemo) I tell myself that if I'd started at 5 I'd be brilliant and it urges me on! smile.png Perhaps we have a tendency to believe that it's harder for us than for anyone else but the reality is if it was easy everyone would play something and as they can't it must require time and effort. The great thing about being retired is that I can decide how to spend the time I have - no one wastes it for me! But I can't use lack of time as an excuse for not playing! blink.png

Enjoy it - things do fall into place and things that seem hard today do get easier with practice! And it's much easier to practise if you're having fun.


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#6 akc42

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 08:06

I restarted 9 months ago having not touched the piano since I was 10 (where I just scraped a pass at Grade 3).  I am now 67.

 

I am enjoying the journey, and the real sense of achievement when I can do something that I wasn't able to before. I don't have any particular destination although there a few pieces I hope to master before I die (Bach Italian Concerto - a favorite of my father, Chopin Nocturne Op9 No2 - the only piece I ever heard my mother play and the entire Beethoven Pathetique Sonata - I already learnt the 2nd Movement).

 

I found that there is something in me left from when I learnt as a child, but I have quickly added to it is, now that I able to practice quite a bit. Currently enjoying Bach Invention No 8 and No 13.


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#7 kewbob

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 15:39

I picked up the Sax in my early 50's, after a couple of years trying to teach myself I found a great tutor and have done 3 grades in 15 months, never thought I would have done that but really enjoy playing, all I need now is someone or somewhere to play it with.

 

Doesn't matter how old you are as long as you get pleasure from playing smile.png


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#8 Gran'piano

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 15:23

Four years ago, at the age of 74, I started playing the piano in order to play the English hymn tunes I miss so much. My learning curve was not improved by eye problems and a back operation. That behind me, I play almost every day and I still love it. I would definitely not recommend my method of learning to everyone but it worked for me.

 

"Pros" were that I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to achieve and two years violin, basic guitar and touch typing skills, although decades ago, meant that my fingers got the basic idea fairly quickly. Computer skills were a big plus and there was the organist friend who, although he probably thought I was insane, when he saw I was serious, was supportive. His gift of a hymn book with simplified settings was worth its weight in gold.

I moved abroad as a young adult. The only way to learn the local language at that time was to listen and imitate. Doing this, one recognises even the tiniest step forward as real progress. The conviction that ones 'skills' are improving even if it doesn't feel like it, is vital to my motivation.

 

"Cons"  were my age and all the minor disadvantages it brings. I had cataracts in both eyes, glaucoma and double vision, particularly in the evening. Living in a block of flats an acoustic piano was not an option. I had never played the piano before.

 

Steps to making it a feasible plan were a digital piano and headphones, a  pair of glasses with the correct focal length and good lighting. I bought a tutor suitable for use without a teacher, but I also waded straight into SATB hymns.  A computer programme for scanning them to enable me to change keys and to remove verses  between the two staves helped a lot. I also download Very Easy Piano Scores of classical pieces of music I like. Of course it was all very, very, very slow but this was, and is, irrelevant.

One of the oddest problems I encountered was that when my two eye operations finally enabled me to read the fingerings on the ' Easy Piano' scores, I had a hard job teaching my forefingers that they are no longer "1" as on the violin and the guitar, but are now "2"!

Having a teacher might have meant playing one piece until I could play it well but as I wanted to be able to sight read hymns, not play them to an audience, I moved onto the next tune as soon as the previous one began to be automatic. Recording my playing terrifies me, so if I need a tune for Sunday School, I record the right hand, play it back while adding the left hand, then after speeding it up a little and changing the format, I put it onto a USB stick to take with me. The purists will throw up their hands in horror I guess, but these 'achievements' are very motivating. A piano teacher who, at my request, watched me play recently gave me a couple of tips. Perhaps next year I'll take another lesson for my eightieth birthday.


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#9 chris13

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 17:46

Well done and good for you is what I say ! You very much remind me of a one time neighbour who took up a teaching post  in Switzerland forty or forty five years ago. His parents just like mine were devout Methodists. Our chapel was one of the major influences on my outlook on life and certainly shaped my musical interests.


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#10 Saxwarbler

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 22:21

I learnt clarinet/saxophone in my thirties, singing in my early fifties and began learning piano at 57, so I take my hat off to you. I wonder if I will be learning any new instruments in twenty years' time.

I think it's only as an adult that you have the emotional experience and maturity that lets you really 'get inside' what you play. You can be eight and play something brilliantly but you can be sixty-eight plus and play it with more feeling than the most talented eight-year-old.


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#11 Witzend

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Posted 30 January 2019 - 18:21

Sounds as if you're doing very well, OP! To start from scratch in your 70s is really something!

I took up the piano again after retiring in my 60s. I had passed grade 2 over 50 years previously, so although it wasn't quite starting from scratch, it wasn't far off at all.
I do and did find it a lot harder than when I was a child - e.g. I found even simple scales with both hands very hard at first, whereas at 9 or 10 I had no trouble at all. Also, I had memorised pieces without even trying, whereas now I really have to make a conscious effort, and even then I can only manage pieces with very regular rhythms.

I've come quite a long way since starting again, but not as far as I'd like, since family/friend illnesses and commitments have meant a lot of time away from home and piano. But I've still come a lot further than I ever imagined when I first went back to complete-beginner pieces.
All the best - I do hope you continue to enjoy it.
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