Throughout my life as a cellist, I have had countless people approach me in train stations, walking down the road or even at the end of concerts, saying that they love the cello and wish they could play it.
I always ask them why they don’t and they reply ‘it’s too late’, but this isn’t true. You can start learning the cello at any age. Learning the cello is an investment in your mental wellbeing and happiness and you will then possess a gift that you can share with others. People often have many worries about learning something new in adulthood, when in reality there is nothing to worry about as you are doing something which you love and that will ultimately make you happy.
Many adults fear ‘not being good enough’ to start learning the cello because they fear possible ‘failure’. As we mature we lose the carefree nature that we once had in childhood and we become far more inhibited, therefore we shy away from starting anything that will take us out of our comfort zone as we feel we have to be great at what we do all the time. When we free ourselves from these constraints, we can feel vulnerable, but in time and with the progress one makes playing the cello one can feel proud and freed from these inhibitions.
Adults sometimes say ‘I won’t use it for anything’ and question their desire to learn the cello. However, if you are doing it just because you want to and you love the instrument, there is no better reason so don’t hold back! You may not become a soloist but you will be able to play and share your love of music with others. People often say ‘isn’t it too late for me to start learning’, but it is never too late, you can start the cello at any age. The standard you get to is irrelevant if playing the cello for fun is what you want to do. Many adults say ‘I don’t have time to learn’ as they don’t see the value in doing something for themselves, but the reality is that the 30 minutes you spend playing the cello after work could brighten your mood and alleviate your stress.
With the right tuition, starting as an adult is really not something to be worried about, but rather to be celebrated because you will be starting an exciting musical journey. Even if you don’t like classical music, your teacher will give you pieces that you will enjoy and that will inspire you to play; you may even inspire your friends and family to learn the cello, as the closest people to you are always impressed with the bravery it takes to start something new in adulthood.
I strongly believe learning the cello as an adult improves your mental health considerably as one can use playing as an escape from the hustle of everyday life. When you take time for yourself to practice or have a lesson, you allow yourself to do something that makes you happy and that you have chosen to do, and this could not be more important in the world we live in today.
Learning the cello is also very good for the brain, as when we play music we use both the left and the right sides of the brain. The combination of thinking about the music and physically playing the cello will also improve your coordination, which will also help in other aspects of day-to-day life. Another advantage one has as a mature student is that adults have a greater amount of perseverance than children, so they work hard to improve and they understand it takes time.
Mature students are at an advantage over children when it comes to transferable skills; many skills we obtain through life are very relevant in playing a musical instrument, even your job may be relevant, for example, a mathematician may see the logic in music theory and can grasp this aspect of learning very quickly and enjoy that aspect of learning. Some adults worry that they physically might not be able to play the cello as it’s a big instrument and they think they’re too small, however, there are plenty of cellists of any shape and size and you can get a cello which is the right size for you and with the right tuition, you won’t ever suffer because of your size.
Learning to play the cello does take time, but all good things in life take time. To learn to do anything well, we know as adults that to do anything well it will take time and learning the cello is no exception. When you put the time in and trust in your teacher, you will soon see how quickly you can improve and how satisfying the process of learning is. Many adults worry that they have no musical experience, however learning to read music is often much easier for adults than children as they can understand the logic of it much better, therefore this aspect of learning is much quicker as a mature student.
If you are thinking about learning, or you just love the cello, why not start lessons? There’s nothing to fear and you will have a teacher guiding you every step of the way and friends and family supporting you and always willing to hear you play. It’s never too late to do something you want to do!