Can ANYONE Learn How To Play Music?

May 02, 2023
Can anyone learn to play music?

 I’ve heard the excuses so many times I can recite them by heart. They fly around my head like songs on a broken record. I’ve heard them for decades, and they amuse me just as much today as they did many, many moons ago. They are all answers to the same question I ask people again and again:

“Why don’t you start learning how to play an instrument?” 

Sometimes the question is “You know that YOU could learn how to play or sing, right?”

Regardless of the way I phrase the question, the answers…ahem, I mean the excuses are all the same:

“I have no talent."
“I have a tin ear.”
“I have no sense of timing.”
“I’m tone deaf.”
“I have fat fingers.”
“No…not ME!”
“I’m not musical.”
“I tried once and it was hard.”
“Someone told me I didn’t have ‘it’.”
“I’m too old to start learning music.”

…and so it goes, on and on, etcetera etcetera, ad infinitum…

The funny thing is I don’t know if these good folks are sincere in their self doubt, or if they just don’t want to put in the requisite effort needed to try something new.  Either way, these are nothing but excuses…

…because ANYONE can learn to play music!

First, let’s just get this out of the way: Yes, it helps to have some natural ability. Yes, it helps to be brought up in a musical environment. Yes, it helps to have certain physical gifts. 

However, these things are totally unnecessary to becoming a great musician. You don’t need any of these things.  How do I know? Because I don’t have ANY of those things, and I’m a great musician. So if I can do it, you can too!

But, I still hear the naysayers. “Well, you can be a great musician, but I can’t!” “Well, you make it look easy.” “Well, you’re just special, and I’m NOT!”

I have the same number of fingers as everyone else. The same kind of brain. The same challenges and capacities for learning. There’s nothing naturally special about me. But boy, do people want to find some excuse as to why one person can be highly-skilled at something while they themselves can’t.  Some folks has negative associations when it comes to learning (or practicing), some have self-doubt brought on by past experiences and some just think it’ll take too long to learn how to play and that their effort will not be equally rewarded. 

So, what are the steps ANYONE can take to learn how to play music? 

  • Get the best quality instrument you can afford.  Learning on a sub-par instrument will make playing that instrument more challenging (sometimes considerably so). You don’t want to make things more difficult for yourself with a cheap instrument that is literally physically fighting against you. 
  • Get a private teacher. This will save you YEARS of wandering about with random books and YouTube videos. Also, books and videos can’t give you feedback about your technique, which is crucial in the early learning stages. If you saved some money to buy a decent instrument, then you should save at least an equal amount to invest in private lessons. 
  • Understand what YOU want to learn. What styles of music inspire you the most? What other musical artists do you like? What musician do you admire the most? Focusing on learning what you love will keep you driven to learn when things get challenging.  

Then come the 3 P’s To Music Mastery

  • Practice. Yup. You may think that your favorite musicians were just born totally awesome, but they weren’t. They practiced. Have your private teacher guide you with what to do, and then do it. It’s really that simple.

Of course, there’s more to the art of practicing than that. If you become a Practice Warrior, you will stick with your practicing when other people fail!

  • Persist. Listen, learning an instrument or learning how to sing is not a simple task. You’re going to feel foolish. You’re going to look foolish. Heck, I can guarantee you’ll certainly sound foolish. But, if you trust your teacher and you trust in the learning process, you will persist in your efforts when most other people quit. 

…and finally, you need…

  • Patience. How long does it take to learn music? Well, look at it this way: music is a life-long journey. You will never, ever EVER run out of things to work on, to learn and to improve. The people who become fulfilled musicians are the ones who don’t put imaginary deadlines on their progress. How long will it take? Answer: as long as it takes! Be patient with your learning process, celebrate your tiny victories, and you will become the musician you’ve always dreamed you could be. 

If you look over the six steps I mentioned above, you quickly realize you don’t need talent or special skills or anything else that’s out of your control. You truly know that ANYONE can learn to play music!

All you need to do now…is begin!

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