How old is too old?

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
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ameriken
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Re: How old is too old?

Post by ameriken » Thu Mar 29, 2018 4:39 pm

At 59 I'm getting ancient as well. Last July I decided to pick up the guitar again after about a 12 year hiatus. My playing sucked so bad I wondered if I could ever 'get it back'. Pushed too hard to try to get to where I was 12 years ago and in September I got some kind of tendonitis in my right arm and decided to take a month off just to let it heal. Then started again more slowly.

Before my hiatus I was accustomed to getting through pieces like Asturias and Recuerdos. Now I don't even try those (yet) and am more focused on musicality, improving my technique and ridding of bad technique, and producing good tone. I'm now focused more on making some of the slower less demanding pieces sound good.

Point being is as others have mentioned, if you want to learn, then learn... and learn to play pieces that are now within your real or perceived limitations. There is so much good music out there that you can play what you are capable of and still love it and have others love it too.

Also, while I agree that bad technique can be an additional challenge, on the other hand you do have some technique and are familiar with the instrument which I see as an advantage. So just do it. If this is a burning desire then choosing not to do it will likely bother you even more and you'll later regret not taking on the challenge.
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Rick Beauregard
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Re: How old is too old?

Post by Rick Beauregard » Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:03 pm

Here’s my take. If you have the passion to put in the work it will keep you young. This has been scientifically proven. Brain plasticity improves. Yada yada yada, get a teacher, and yada yada yada keep expectations reasonable. But just do it. The lessons here on Delcamp are a great alternative to find out if this is for you. And the social aspect of the network are an added bonus. At your age there is still time to make it to 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. That practice will keep you young. Good luck.
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PeteJ
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Re: How old is too old?

Post by PeteJ » Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:12 pm

The crucial thing at our age is not wasting time and having a good teacher would be the best way to avoid this problem. You may never play a Bach fugue but you can still entertain yourself and others. A lot of the learning process goes much faster when you're older, at least to start with.

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Re: How old is too old?

Post by soufiej » Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:14 pm

IMO, if you go into a new project with the idea age will hold you back, then age will hold you back. You've already set yourself up for some degree of failure and you've provided yourself an excuse for why you didn't succeed. Of course, being realistic about what you're facing is in most cases the best advice. I no longer get up on the roof to put up Xmas decorations or even climb to the top of a 26' ladder because I have a funky knee that I don't trust to catch me if I make a misstep. Your risks when picking up an acoustic guitar are far less grave.


I read this article the other day and realized I didn't even know there was a 100 plus age bracket in track and field; https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/ear ... 56d89f1183

Therefore, without getting into a Henny Youngman joke, age is simply what you believe it to be and it should never stop you from doing anything that doesn't risk your well being. Learning to read notation is far less difficult than, say, learning Italian.



I have to ask though, if you've been practicing for "several months" and you know you will need to learn how to read notation to successfully play classical guitar, what has stopped you from starting on that bit of education?

Excuse me if I apply a little personal anecdote to this situation but I've known several people who have decided they wanted to do something or to learn something though their desire was really just to have an excuse to go out and acquire something fairly expensive. They never really carry through with the rest of "the plan" after the item has been purchased.

Therefore, my first piece of advice would be to put off buying a new nylon string guitar until you can proficiently read notation and play the Major scale from memory. IMO playing from TAB is a snap if you can first read notation. So there's your first bit of analysis based on your op, you have never succeeded at doing more than diddling on a guitar because you've not set proper goals for yourself when it comes to playing the guitar.

Put two items into a search engine; 1) how to set realistic goals, and 2) how to create and use a musician's practice journal. If you can't follow through on either of those two goals, then don't bother thinking about buying a new guitar. You don't need anything more than your present guitar to follow through on those two items and you can test your staying power by both learning how to read notation and how to play a Major scale. Even if you decide to never play a classical piece, you'll still be ahead of the game if you accomplish just those two things.



Regarding any issues with your fingers/hands, you may have simply overworked your hand on one day and caused temporary inflammation. Or you may have fallen into such bad habits that your technique is sorely lacking and your hands are suffering the consequences. If this was a one off incident, then I would bet on the former. Remember, you cannot make up for three days without practice by playing for three hours on one day. If this is more constant, then you first have to deduce the cause of the discomfort. Start from the very beginning lessons to check your technique. Make sure your posture is correct and you are holding the guitar in a "correct" position. So on and so on. If the discomfort is anything more than temporary - a lot of us wake up with stiff hands when we are in our 60's - and you cannot play well due to stiffness, then you need to consult a physician who does more than tell you it may be a bit of arthritis. An orthopedic surgeon familiar with injuries related to age is your first choice since orthos familiar with musician's injuries are very difficult to run across.

If you are at the beginning stages of arthritis, then you need a plan for dealing with the issue. If you have developed tendonitis or a trigger finger, then another plan is in order. Either way, the discomfort and stiffness is related to inflammation and each will have short and long term strategies to deal with the situation. Guitar forums are full of advice for hand and finger issues but your best bet is a physician familiar with age related issues IMO. Get a diagnosis so you know with some certainty what you are dealing with and not just guessing and hoping it goes away.

A portion of your practice journal should be set up for warming up, which can be many things depending on your progress and your physical abilities. Set realistic goals, put them in writing in your journal and maintain a record of your practice sessions.
None of this requires you use anything more than your present equipment. There's no need for an instructor at this point unless you feel you can afford to pay for lessons and you do not feel intimidated by a teacher three or more decades younger than yourself. Give yourself a few months to get up to speed with notation and scales and, if at that point, you still feel as though you wish to play more serious music, then you can decide where to go next.

ddray
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Re: How old is too old?

Post by ddray » Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:36 pm

soufiej wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:14 pm
I have to ask though, if you've been practicing for "several months" and you know you will need to learn how to read notation to successfully play classical guitar, what has stopped you from starting on that bit of education?
Well that's where a good teacher will be necessary. Sometimes a person doesn't know where to begin. When I was a child and began piano lessons I had no clue about notation. I learned it in the course of learning the keyboard. It's far easier to learn it in a concrete, applicable way like that rather than as abstract ideas.
Last edited by ddray on Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

simonm
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Re: How old is too old?

Post by simonm » Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:41 pm

Quoting myself from another similar thread.
simonm wrote:
Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:45 pm
Also don't forget RayJang's epic thread here - 100 pages from 2008 to 2011 aged 68 to 71.
http://www.classicalguitardelcamp.com/v ... =4&t=26680
Quite an inspiration.

oc chuck
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Re: How old is too old?

Post by oc chuck » Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:52 pm

soufiej wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:14 pm

If you are at the beginning stages of arthritis, then you need a plan for dealing with the issue. If you have developed tendonitis or a trigger finger, then another plan is in order. Either way, the discomfort and stiffness is related to inflammation and each will have short and long term strategies to deal with the situation. Guitar forums are full of advice for hand and finger issues but your best bet is a physician familiar with age related issues IMO. Get a diagnosis so you know with some certainty what you are dealing with and not just guessing and hoping it goes away.

A portion of your practice journal should be set up for warming up, which can be many things depending on your progress and your physical abilities. Set realistic goals, put them in writing in your journal and maintain a record of your practice sessions.
None of this requires you use anything more than your present equipment. There's no need for an instructor at this point unless you feel you can afford to pay for lessons and you do not feel intimidated by a teacher three or more decades younger than yourself. Give yourself a few months to get up to speed with notation and scales and, if at that point, you still feel as though you wish to play more serious music, then you can decide where to go next.


Major ditto on the physical medical aspect of your situation from soufiej .
You didn't mention doctor exam, physical therapy, Meds etc.
That's what I had to do about 15 years ago.

Hope to hear some updates from you.

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Re: How old is too old?

Post by soufiej » Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:53 pm

"Well that's where a good teacher will be necessary. Sometimes a person doesn't know where to begin. When I was a child and began piano lessons I had no clue about notation. I learned it in the course of learning the keyboard. It's far easier to learn it in a concrete, applicable way like that rather than as abstract ideas."




Well, I'll leave that up to the op. IMO there are more than a sufficient number of methods and locations to head toward if you want to learn how to read music notation. "A" through "G" and then start over again. It ain't that difficult. I'm not suggesting the op become a terrific sight reader or study music theory, just know how to read the basics of notation and how to apply that knowledge to playing the Major scale across the fretboard from low E to high A.

That's where the op needs to start. Simple. Start at the beginning. IMO the best way to proceed is to set a realistic goal for yourself and see if you can accomplish that goal in a reasonable amount of time. If you can't do that much, what good is a teacher? They can't force you to practice or to study. The motivation has to be inside the person and they must decide to stick with the program until they succeed.

The op has a guitar and a computer. No doubt there's a public library in the area. I can't see needing anything more than the will power to do this. No excuses that the teacher wasn't good enough or that the schedule didn't work out. Just decide to do it and then do it. What's the worst thing that could happen? Frustration? OK, know that there's a lot more frustration ahead if you really commit to learning how to play well. If you can't deal with frustration, then you're probably not cut out for this in the first place.

To me, that's just a realistic viewpoint for the op at this point.

If the op really thinks an instructor is needed, then find an instructor. I just feel learning to have some self reliance here is more important.

ddray
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Re: How old is too old?

Post by ddray » Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:45 am

soufiej wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:53 pm

Well, I'll leave that up to the op. IMO there are more than a sufficient number of methods and locations to head toward if you want to learn how to read music notation. "A" through "G" and then start over again. It ain't that difficult. I'm not suggesting the op become a terrific sight reader or study music theory, just know how to read the basics of notation and how to apply that knowledge to playing the Major scale across the fretboard from low E to high A.

...

If the op really thinks an instructor is needed, then find an instructor. I just feel learning to have some self reliance here is more important.
Are you speaking from experience? Did you teach yourself notation? And yeah it is fairly difficult if you come to it "cold".

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Amy Gaudia
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Re: How old is too old?

Post by Amy Gaudia » Fri Mar 30, 2018 4:21 am

Hi Stan,
About 10 years ago, I heard the expression, “60 is the new 40” and I think there is a lot of goodness in that way of thinking. It has helped me a lot. At 59 I have just started building my classical guitar repertoire, while waiting for my custom made guitar to be completed. When my 2 years-until-retirement countdown clock hits zero, I will be “41” and ready to enjoy sharing some beautiful music with all who want to listen. The only advice I have is, try to avoid getting into heavy ibuprofen use for pain and inflammation. It can ruin your kidneys!
But mostly, keep doing what you love!
Amy
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Ceciltguitar
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Re: How old is too old?

Post by Ceciltguitar » Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:50 pm

I once had a beginning guitar student who was 65. She was a quick learner! She just wanted to learn to accompany herself singing, and she learned chords and strumming techniques quickly. She was a "proficient dabbler": She had learned to play the piano a few years earlier. After achieving her guitar goal in less than 6 months she moved on to learning how to play the drums.

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Re: How old is too old?

Post by soufiej » Fri Mar 30, 2018 4:27 pm

"Are you speaking from experience? Did you teach yourself notation? And yeah it is fairly difficult if you come to it 'cold'."



I honestly don't remember being taught how to read notation any more than I remember being taught how to read English. I can remember being assigned a "music" class by second grade so I assume that's when I would have begun learning to read both notation and multi-syllable words in English.

Keeping in mind the number of forum members who believe their "formal education" has provided some level of pedigree to their existence, I will say I probably did learn how to read music by mostly teaching myself. And then ask, isn't that really how all of us learn something? By teaching ourselves what we need to know? Teachers don't hand anything to a student. They don't wave a magic wand and suddenly impart knowledge where none had previously existed. Through due diligence the student finds it out and figures it out themself. It is the efforts of the individual and their failures at comprehension which teach the student something about what they need to know.

But, then, I also read Zen Koans.


Therefore, maybe I am putting too much ease in learning to read notation but I did it when there was no internet or computers and I was working with a classical lesson plan first written in the 1920's. I had no opportunity to bounce from this shiny new thing to the next shiny new thing. If there is one thing that stands in the way of a self taught student's success today it is, IMO, the amount of information available, the degree to which most of it is worthless if not downright harmful and the fact very few students have the patience to start at the beginning and stick with a lesson plan to the end. Add in the fact anyone with a smartphone feels an obligation to post something on some social media site and you do have a mess to deal with.

So I am not without empathy for the newbies out there. I just think someone needs to explain how an educational process actually works. It goes like this; you start at the beginning and you stick with the plan until you finish the last lesson. No bouncing around though you are allowed to learn more than one thing at any one time and you are encouraged to look and plan ahead. Know that you will have difficulties and you will achieve some level of success. There will be plateaus where you feel stalled for weeks on end to the point of wanting to give it all up and then there will be the break throughs where things fall in place and make sense and your ability to construct music from a written page will leap forward. That will only last until your next frustration. A lesson plan that is successful builds today's work on what you have been taught least week and last month. You are encouraged to go backward at any time and apply what you learned today to what you played a month ago. This is a long hard slog for most if us and you have to find it within yourself to have the determination and the patience to stick with the plan. You also need to know when to ask for assistance. Though, before you can learn anything, you must empty your mind of every preconception of how things work in order to accept what is.

If you have a problem with any of that, you should decide now whether this is the game you wish to play. No one is looking to flunk you out of school but you have to step up when called upon.




Not to make this sound like I lived in the outback but when I learned to read notation and study intervals and scale construction I had one book. I couldn't bounce around like a student can today.

Therefore, just as the easy access to a digital technology was promised to provide us with more leisure time, the real world effect of a digital technology seems to have made far too many people far less patient with gaining access to skills they do not presently possess. Personally, I have one site that sends me a new TAB every Wednesday while I have the skill level to absorb and work through about one every other week. So my binder continues to grow with materials I have promised myself I will get around to someday. Therefore, at my age, I've made it my goal to stay off 26' ladders and to learn more material. So far, I've been successful at only one of those tasks.

Maybe you can explain just what is so difficult about learning to read notation and spend less time complaining about my advice. Just what will a teacher do to warm up someone coming at notation "cold"?

As we all know, it is A through G and start over. Sharps and flats and naturals all come with learning the intervalic steps to create the Major scale. I'm not suggesting the op learn the Circle of Fifths or modes or even key signatures. Just to learn what note is on which line and which note is in which space and how to find them on the fretboard. This is after all someone who claims to have some degree of familiarity with the guitar. So they aren't exactly so cold they've just come from the refrigerator.

Tell us about your own difficulties with learning to read notation and forget about me for now. IMO that would be far more helpful to the op. I'll just sit here off to the side and watch. How's that sound?

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Re: How old is too old?

Post by ddray » Fri Mar 30, 2018 5:31 pm

soufiej wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 4:27 pm
"Are you speaking from experience? Did you teach yourself notation? And yeah it is fairly difficult if you come to it 'cold'."

I honestly don't remember being taught how to read notation any more than I remember being taught how to read English. I can remember being assigned a "music" class by second grade so I assume that's when I would have begun learning to read both notation and multi-syllable words in English.
But the point is, you were taught.


Tell us about your own difficulties with learning to read notation and forget about me for now. IMO that would be far more helpful to the op. I'll just sit here off to the side and watch. How's that sound?
I suppose the difficulties would have been the same that come with starting to learn another language/grammatical rules/alphabet or learning mathematical principles. I'm not a music teacher. All I'm saying is that the path ahead would be much smoother for the OP if he has the guidance of a teacher. What I object to are judgemental "why haven't you already done x" or "face it, you'll never be/do/achieve x" statements. We don't know.

AndreiKrylov

Re: How old is too old?

Post by AndreiKrylov » Fri Mar 30, 2018 5:37 pm

Few years ago .. in 1983 I had one pupil who was 78 or 79...and he had terrible arthritis on his fingers...
He never played guitar before and he wanted to sing songs with guitar accompaniment (to impress some girls ...)
He was very difficult pupil since he "knew" everything (and as he thought - about guitar too) and he refused to learn any kind of theory, scales, any technique really...he did not even want to place his hands in a standard way...
all he wanted to play songs...TO PERFORM!!!
To my surprise after few months he started to play some accompaniment...
and even from my point of view it was not good and very primitive accompaniment - he seems to be happy and seems as he achieved some of his goals...

Just put a proper goals - and then it never too old.

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Steve Ganz
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Re: How old is too old?

Post by Steve Ganz » Fri Mar 30, 2018 6:00 pm

Hey, I'm 67 and still learning and deriving much satisfaction from playing. I get to build guitars for great players, but I enjoy playing almost as much. Some days my hands hurt, some not. Big deal! We live a long time. I plan to improve steadily ... until I don't and that may be hard to determine.
Practice slowly and with thought and hear the music.
Steve

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