12 Reasons Playing Flute as an Adult is Easier than You Think…

Whether you’re learning flute for the very first time or relearning after a long break (decades anyone?), it’s never too late to start. 

Adult learners enjoy tremendous success in learning a musical instrument, with progress at a rate that often leaves younger students in their dust. And that’s despite having the additional time demands and responsibilities that adult life brings.

So how do they do it??

Based on my own experiences and those of fellow adult learners, I’ve listed 12 reasons why learning flute later in life can put you in the fast lane and have you realising your goals sooner than you think…

  • 1
    You actually like to practice. For me as a high school student, an hour of practice seemed like an eternity! These days, an hour of playing flies. I get lost in my musical world and laser focused on nailing something that’s been challenging me. I’ve finally connected the dots that practise = progress.
  • 2
    Challenges don’t defeat you. As a teenager you may have just skipped over trouble-spots and hoped you got away with it. But with some life experience under your belt, your problem-solving skills have matured and you can pick apart a problem phrase to slowly work on each element (fingering, articulation, dynamics, where to breath etc) and patiently piece it back together again. The satisfaction of finally playing it through and moving forward is actually kind of addictive!
  • 3
    You can research and buy your own flute. This is a big one. A good quality flute will mean you no longer have to ‘make do’ with the school’s rental flute that’s been ‘well loved’ or a cheap hand me down from an older sibling due to family budgets. Treating yourself to a well-made flute made from quality materials will mean you no longer need to fight to play beautifully. This flute will allow you to grow into its capabilities, not frustrate and hold you back from your full playing potential.
  • 4
    The internet was invented…Mind. Blown. The opportunities to learn and play are now almost endless. You can watch flute tutorials and listen to performances from the world’s best flute players anytime and anywhere in the world. Or search for almost any kind of sheet music thinkable and have it delivered instantly to your inbox. Or join online flute player communities and share and learn with players you would never have the chance to interact with otherwise… It’s never been EASIER to learn flute!
  • 5
    You know what type of music you like. A lifetime of music has opened your ears to music from other cultures, time periods, genres and composers. Actively listening to a variety of music helps to make you a better player by exposing you to rhythm, tuning, tone, use of articulation, dynamics and vibrato. By hearing them as an audience member, you start to gain an appreciation for all the elements that create an unforgettable performance. And on the simplest level, it prevents boredom!
  • 6
    You want to play, you’re not made to play. The weighty expectations of parents and teachers are largely lifted off your shoulders. Also, most adult learners know the ‘why’ behind their playing. They’re passionate about very specific dreams and goals (some which have been simmering below the surface for decades) which are incredibly exciting and motivating.
  • 7
    You've got the freedom to learn the things you want. Whether you’re learning online or with a teacher, you’re actually free to have fun. You’re not limited to one tired old exercise book or set pieces for examinations. Tell your teacher your flute playing goals and what you want to play - and they'll equip you to get there. 
  • 8
    You’re not afraid to ask for help. You’ve realised that the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask!
  • 9
    You can choose the learning resources/ teacher that are right for you. Made infinitely easier with the internet, you’re no longer limited to the only flute teacher in your town and the resources they prefer to use.
  • 10
    It’s good for your mental and physical health. Research shows that musical training actually grows your brain, stimulating new neural connections which act as a defence against memory loss, cognitive decline and diminished auditory function. Your brain gets a work out every time you play, and just like training at the gym - the more you play, the greater and longer lasting the benefits.
  • 11
    You can set goals and manage your time. Skills honed through running a family or your career mean you know how to get things DONE. (An important skill set to have when the busyness of life can mean your practice time is limited).
  • 12
    It sets a great example for your kids. It’s amazing to think that your flute playing can positively impact the next generation. Your bravery in trying something new, and the fruits that practice and perseverance brings can inspire your kids both in music and other areas of life, and has the chance to exponentially influence others.

Comments

  1. Carol

    Good job. Excellent analysis and put together nicely.
    I started learning flute in an adult beginner band. But didn’t get any teaching on how to play my instrument.
    I am participating in an on line lesson series, which is logical and stepwise, but am not progressing as quickly as I would like. I struggle at different times and on different pieces or even notes within a piece with tone, especially when going over octaves and fingerings, not moving fast enough or not remembering the correct ones.
    That’s why I was trolling the internet looking for some additional tips or strategies.
    I’m hoping I may just find that something that will move the road block.

  2. I do agree with you when you said that learning how to play the flute as an adult is good since adults are more patient and will work hard to figure out where they are going wrong and work on them. That is why I do think it is not too late to learn music despite already having graduated college. I am interested in learning to play the flute, for now, then later I will study the piano. Thank you for the encouraging post.

  3. I love the point you made about how you can choose your own flute based on research you have done if you decide to play as an adult. I played the trumpet in middle school, and I remember having sticky keys and not being very fond of my instrument. As an adult, I think I would rather learn the flute than take up the trumpet again, and being able to choose my own will be a positive change.

  4. Kathleen Nicholson

    Love this article! I am 69 and started to learn flute online just a few years ago. I really like all the extra tips that I can find online, through Youtube etc. And I so agree with all the points you have made here. I was totally unfocussed when I was at school, and wouldn’t stick at anything. How I wish now that I had learnt when I was young. However, I doubt whether it would have given me any more enjoyment than it does now.

  5. Kirstie

    This is all,So encouraging! I am 48, I loved the flute but did not practice, At 8yrs old, so my rental flute went back…. I grieved!! and have been dreaming of being a flutist, blowing over empty bottle tops, like a Fog Horn for 40 years. I bought a decent Yammaha 15 yrs ago. It was one of the last things my Dad and I did together, Even though the Rugby was due on… He made time. I am so glad I invested in this instrument. I never appretiated the diversity and fun you can have with the Flute. Somebody once said to me “If you ever get a chance to have a second childhood.. Take It.” A few weeks ago I saw an add for a orchestra starting, I signed up and now my Flute is a dream coming alive, But Its so hard, I am not that computer savey, I live in a terraced house so to try to play the high octaves, That my “Embouchier” see! Lets just say MOUTH.. DIDN’T learn. Today I took myself to a brook with all of Bristols traffic driving overhead to practice, and all I heard was my Flute, that sounded better at least, and the running water.Yet I get home.. I am so squashed in a two up two down 180year old terraced house, I just cant play for the inhibition it causes.
    I have five weeks of this project left, I dont want to ever go back to dreaming of this and Music is in my family and this is doing so much to heal bereavement, Music is in everybody and this does so much for communication and forging friendship across the globe, I am finding it hard though…The remembering finger work and where to go, and trying to read the treble Clef for real. Thank You!

    • Christie Gallen

      Hi Kirstie, Your comment made me smile! I’m so glad you re-discovered the flute and are FINALLY making your dream of playing a reality! I hope I can help you along the way 🙂 If you haven’t already, join my Facebook group for beginner players. Search for “The Beginner Flute Practice Room” and you’ll find us. It’s such a friendly group filled with folks learning to play from all across the world. We share what we are working on, problems we are struggling with and support and encourage one another. As you say, music is best shared with others. All the best!!

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