Right instrument at the right time | Lessonface

Right instrument at the right time

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Leah Kruszewski's
Instructor
Right instrument at the right time

My instrument (classical/flamenco guitar) called to me.  I grew up liking music, but I had an unsuccessful first start with piano lessons  when I was seven years old - a few months of lessons from a neighbor, but I rarely practiced and just didn't love it that much - I even got in trouble for lying about practicing once!  I just wasn't mature or self-disciplined enough at that point to discover the rewards of focused practice.  I then played the saxophone in middle and high school, but it was a social thing and hardly a serious pursuit.  But when I started playing guitar several years later, and then shortly after when I discovered flamenco, I was hooked for life.  Now here I am playing guitar four to six hours a day preparing for a concert, teaching several lessons a day, and I can't imagine doing anything else for a living.   Interestingly, piano was my second instrument as a music major, and we got along really well the second time around.  Sometimes the right instrument finds you at the right time, and the rest of your musical life falls into place around it!   

I'd be curious to hear how others discovered their instruments.  Did anyone crossed paths with their current instrument earlier in life without a 'spark' and then later discover that it was their calling?  

Rod Ferreira's
Instructor

That is really cool Leah!! it seems that we all tried a couple of instruments before finding THE ONE! I had some harmonic and drums lessons before finding the guitar!

Benedict Marsh's
Instructor

I grew up singing a lot, and dabbling with guitar and drums. I just loved music and wanted to play, but didn't get lessons or anything. Then one day when I was walking home after a rock band practice (I was singing for the band) I found myself hearing a bunch of music in my head. It was really weird. I was just hearing fully arranged parts in my head, and as a 16 year old with no frame of reference, I was like, ummmmm, this is weird - I think I need an instrument to write this stuff down with, and naturally I just though guitar. Probably because it was practical in terms of size. And so, I thought to myself, I need to ask for a guitar for Christmas... That being said, i do think drums called to me early on, but my parents refused to put something so noisy in the apartment.

Ligia Silva's
Instructor

I guess there are a lot of things to consider: how mature you are when you start learning, what your idols are, what your friends listen too, your parents, if you liked your first teacher etc. I picked up the flute randomly in a list of instruments in my local music school and ended up playing it until now. 

Jonathan Jackson's
Instructor

That's awesome Leah! I grew up singing in choirs and taking piano lessons seriously but the guitar was something that I only dabbled in. It wasn't until college that I really started to dig into learning and loving the instrument! It's amazing how sometimes a second try at an instrument can spark a passion for it!

Daniel Hunter's
Instructor

I think I always wanted to play the guitar, I used to strum a tennis raquet along to Mark Knopfler solos on my Dad's Dire Straits records. I started on piano at around 7 and never really got into it but when I  swapped the tennis raquet for a guitar at the age of 13 I hardly put it down. I often wonder if I would have stuck with the guitar if I'd started it at 7 years old instead of the piano....

Daniel Hunter's
Instructor

I think I always wanted to play the guitar, I used to strum a tennis racket along to Mark Knopfler solos on my Dad's Dire Straits records. I started on piano at around 7 and never really got into it but when I  swapped the tennis racket for a guitar at the age of 13 I hardly put it down. I often wonder if I would have stuck with the guitar if I'd started it at 7 years old instead of the piano....

Leah Kruszewski's
Instructor

That's really interesting, Jonathan and Daniel!  I think the musical maturity that enables you to love and dedicate yourself to an instrument generally comes a bit later than seven years old.  Most of us don't share many (if any) musical or artistic preferences with our seven-year-old selves.  But even though you might end up on a different instrument than you started out on, those early lessons sure help out with coordination and musical understanding.   And if a kid loves music and wants to play it, he definitely should be encouraged, without too much worry about whether his current instrument of choice is THE instrument for him.  

James Larson's
James Larson

Leah, I agree with your statement about musical maturity and dedication to mastering the instrument.  There is something about making a personal commitment to learning an instrument.

I actually began taking violin lessons at the age of three.  Personally, I don't really remember the first time I picked up the instrument.  My dad is a musician and teacher.  At the time, he watched an interview of the famous violin teacher Dr. Suzuki lecture on starting children on musical instruments at a young age.  My dad implemented the idea and got a toy/cardboard violin and a makeshift bow.   He'd play recordings of professional violinists Itzak Perlman and Isaac Stern while I'd pretend to play on my toy violin.  After that, the rest is history.

I'd be interested to hear if any of you have had a similar experience or have tried teaching really young students.  On the flip side, have any of you had success working beginners who are adults or the elderly?

~James Larson

 

 

Leah Kruszewski's
Instructor

Hi James!  Wow, three is really young to start, though I think that is more typical for violin students. For guitar, I have better success with students who are at least 6 years old, because by that time they have the dexterity and attention span to learn simple songs.  While I've never taught anyone I'd consider 'elderly', I really enjoy teaching adult students (I wrote this article a while ago just for adult beginners).  They are generally self-aware and very motivated and disciplined.  In that respect, many things are easier for them to pick up.  Some adult beginners, however, tend to be a bit too hard on themselves and expect faster progress than is reasonable.  When they come to accept that learning the guitar is a bit-by-bit process, they go really far!  

-Leah