How old is too old?

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
Stan
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Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:53 pm

How old is too old?

Post by Stan » Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:14 am

This is music related so I hope it's ok to post this here. I have fooled around with steel string guitars for about 45 years but never seriously. i can strum rhythm, play a few bluegrass and blues licks, basic barre chords and play a few basic fingerpicking patterns, but I can't play real fingerstyle guitar much less classical guitar. I do not read music or tabs. There are millions of us out here. I want to learn.

In 2009 I put the guitar down for 9 years. Last December I picked it back up and now I really want to get serious and truly learn how to play classical guitar. I am worse than a beginner due to all the bad technique I have picked up over the years, so I am starting from below zero level. I have a LOT to "unlearn". My fingers have loosened up some since I have been playing over the last few months but last year, I couldn't even bend my left index finger enough to make a C chord. That has improved to some extent but at 63 I have some stiff finger joints. I guess I am looking for a little truth here. Is it too late to start? I know I will never be a master of classical guitar but I really want to get serious and learn all I can before my ride in this world is up. Any comments, good or bad are welcome. Thanks.
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Alvisa
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Re: How old is too old?

Post by Alvisa » Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:55 am

I would say that it is never too late but to avoid frustration, you need to have realistic objectives.

A very good teacher is essential, not some kid down the road. You can injure yourself easily due to uncontrolled enthusiasm combined with poor guidance and it can take a long time to repair, assuming that you even recognise the source of the injury, which isn't always obvious. A well set up guitar with low action will minimise the stresses in the left hand.

Playing simple pieces musically is a rewarding goal as opposed to killing difficult pieces.

Good luck on your new journey.

Alvisa

PS did I mention get a very good teacher!
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rpavich
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Re: How old is too old?

Post by rpavich » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:30 am

My story is amazingly similar to yours...just some of the numbers are different. I'm 58, played electric for 35 years...put it down for 8..came to classical to be serious like you. I have / had lots of bad habits both in technique and in my thought processes for guitar, my playing habits, my practicing habits.

I never thought a teacher was that important but now I see that even my old rock guitar playing suffered through lack of guidance by a teacher.

I'm in my second month and I'll agree with the other poster...if you are realistic about what you want...go for it. It gets better quickly but FOR SURE get a real classical guitar teacher. That's very important. A teacher can spot issues that you don't even realize that you have. The teacher can guide you through the first (and very important) stages of learning; you don't want to replace one set of bad habits with another...right?

So, go for it but do it with a good teacher if you can.
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chrisphattingh
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Location: Dordrecht, Netherlands.

Re: How old is too old?

Post by chrisphattingh » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:46 am

It is true what Alvisa says:
Playing simple pieces musically is a rewarding goal as opposed to killing difficult piece
I am 80, started again after 35 years, (read my 1st post). Two and halve years later, I am having an absolute ball, its the journey, not the destination.

Actually, I don't mind if I kill some of the difficult pieces but its about getting better and learning and just the pure joy of the guitar music.

Good luck and enjoy.

CathyCate
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Re: How old is too old?

Post by CathyCate » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:37 am

Welcome to the right place!
...and by all means find a good teacher. It will make the journey easier and more enjoyable.
Use your practice time wisely, and you will forget how "old" you are when you are in the company of your guitar. Music is such a precious gift in our lives.
Cathy
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Whiteagle
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Location: Wollongong, Australia

Re: How old is too old?

Post by Whiteagle » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:53 am

Go for it. Can’t see why 63 would be too old. Enjoy what you play!

DerekB
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Location: Bollington, Cheshire UK

Re: How old is too old?

Post by DerekB » Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:51 am

I am ten years older than the OP. I started playing again six years ago after a thirty-year break. I am currently working towards Trinity grade 8, having started on the exam path with grade 4. My hands are not as strong or as supple as they used to be, particularly after I broke my wrist eighteen months ago but I can still play quite challenging pieces. A shorter scale length helps immensely.

I fully agree with the advice to find a good teacher. If you let us know where you are I am sure there will be some recommendations from Delcampers in your area.
I've suffered for my music. Now it's your turn... - Seasick Steve

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kloeten
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Re: How old is too old?

Post by kloeten » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:06 am

To the OP: you need to be realistic: if you have fooled around with guitars for 45 years, why would the next 5-15 years be different? If you have the answer to that question, you may be on the right path.

prawnheed

Re: How old is too old?

Post by prawnheed » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:15 am

The answer to your question is 123 years old.

But even then, it's still worth trying.

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bear
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Location: Massachusetts

Re: How old is too old?

Post by bear » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:54 am

Stan wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:14 am
This is music related so I hope it's ok to post this here. I have fooled around with steel string guitars for about 45 years but never seriously. i can strum rhythm, play a few bluegrass and blues licks, basic barre chords and play a few basic fingerpicking patterns, but I can't play real fingerstyle guitar much less classical guitar. I do not read music or tabs. There are millions of us out here. I want to learn.

In 2009 I put the guitar down for 9 years. Last December I picked it back up and now I really want to get serious and truly learn how to play classical guitar. I am worse than a beginner due to all the bad technique I have picked up over the years, so I am starting from below zero level. I have a LOT to "unlearn". My fingers have loosened up some since I have been playing over the last few months but last year, I couldn't even bend my left index finger enough to make a C chord. That has improved to some extent but at 63 I have some stiff finger joints. I guess I am looking for a little truth here. Is it too late to start? I know I will never be a master of classical guitar but I really want to get serious and learn all I can before my ride in this world is up. Any comments, good or bad are welcome. Thanks.
Too old is dead. Until then,Truck on. BTW, you're still a kid.
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andreas777
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Re: How old is too old?

Post by andreas777 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:33 pm

Alvisa wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:55 am
I would say that it is never too late but to avoid frustration, you need to have realistic objectives.
This is the crucial point. Think about how much time you want to spend practicing and what you can learn in this period. If you can accept that you will never reach a professional level, or be able to play the most difficult pieces, make more errors than other younger players, but if you have fun practicing and it gives you joy when you can play a piece well from memory, then go for it. What do you have to lose? You have no obligations and can stop playing guitar every day, it's always you who can decide. I would recommend to set a goal and keep learning classical guitar until you have reached this milestone - for example be able to play this Spanish Romance from memory. And when you have reached this milestone you can recap your learning and experiences and decide if you want to continue.
Happiness is when what you think what you say and what you do are in harmony.

AndreiKrylov

Re: How old is too old?

Post by AndreiKrylov » Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:45 pm

andreas777 wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:33 pm
Alvisa wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:55 am
I would say that it is never too late but to avoid frustration, you need to have realistic objectives.
This is the crucial point. Think about how much time you want to spend practicing and what you can learn in this period. If you can accept that you will never reach a professional level, or be able to play the most difficult pieces, make more errors than other younger players, but if you have fun practicing and it gives you joy when you can play a piece well from memory, then go for it. What do you have to lose? You have no obligations and can stop playing guitar every day, it's always you who can decide. I would recommend to set a goal and keep learning classical guitar until you have reached this milestone - for example be able to play this Spanish Romance from memory. And when you have reached this milestone you can recap your learning and experiences and decide if you want to continue.
Sure - continue!
and ..yes "you need to have realistic objectives." Play for yourself, enjoy!
Good luck!

ddray
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Re: How old is too old?

Post by ddray » Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:50 pm

andreas777 wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:33 pm
This is the crucial point. Think about how much time you want to spend practicing and what you can learn in this period. If you can accept that you will never reach a professional level, or be able to play the most difficult pieces, make more errors than other younger players...
Take out the word "younger" and that applies to probably 99% of people who ever pick up a guitar. Or learn any musical instrument, for that matter.

As long as you have the physical capability, you're never too old. Best wishes.

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souldier
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Re: How old is too old?

Post by souldier » Thu Mar 29, 2018 4:10 pm

Never too late. Enjoy the instrument to the fullest within your life circumstances.

When I got back into guitar, I was hoping I would have the technique and musicality of some of the great players you find on youtube... but the reality is I am not a full time musician, I don't have 5+ hours to practice 6-7 days a week, etc. I soon discovered that If I maintained these expectations or set other people as my standard, I would simply be frustrated. It would be better to find great purpose and fulfillment as an amateur hobbyist than be discontent as a world class professional.

Notice the Parkening quote in my signature. In this context, Parkening equates "success" with fame, fortune, etc. Excellence however is simply reaching YOUR personal potential in your given circumstances and enjoying it. If that means playing simple pieces with imperfect technique on your front porch, who is to say this is a misuse of the instrument? If it means getting lessons from a reputable teacher and practicing 3 hours a day, then go for it. Whatever the case, we need not let others determine how to best enjoy the classical guitar.
"Success grants its rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes.
Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few." - Christopher Parkening

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drdbthompson
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Location: Carson City, NV

Re: How old is too old?

Post by drdbthompson » Thu Mar 29, 2018 4:20 pm

I would also offer that you are never too old. So long as you have breath in you and can move your hands, you can do something. I would also confirm what others stated about having reasonable expectations.

I'm another retread who is picking up the instrument again after letting it languish for a decade or so. I have time to work on the instrument now and want to spend some of that time enjoying the process and bringing my skill level back up.

Some think that practicing scales is boring. I don't and scales can be musical too if one puts the effort into it.

Get a good teacher. The internet means we can access good teachers remotely now. My teacher told me that he is now using Skype and Facetime as tools to work with students who are remote. When I'm ready to make that commitment, I'll use that technology to help me make progress, provide some accountability, and enjoy the companionship of my old teacher and friend.

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