Am I Too Old to Learn Classical Guitar?

Is classical guitar a “young man’s game”? Are there physical requirements to getting started on classical guitar? Can someone be “too old” for guitar?

Short answer: No. Classical guitar is a wonderful pursuit at any age.

In fact, most people starting classical guitar are well into the second half of life.

Music is Ageless

One of the joys of music is that it is an ever-unfolding study. We could spend lifetimes and not learn everything. The more we know, the more there is to know.

In fact, examples abound of men and women playing music daily through extreme old age. Alice Herz-Sommers, for instance, played piano daily through age 109!

And it’s never too late to start. While we may not get in as many decades when we start late, we can still enjoy a rich and rewarding daily music practice.

Reasonable Expectations for Older Guitarists

A nine-year-old will naturally have more flexibility than an 89-year-old. It is possible to stay flexible and strong into older age. But most of us will experience some wear-and-tear over our lifetimes.

For this reason, it helps to have reasonable expectations if getting started later. We may not gain the top speeds or stretches we would have in our youth. We may take a little longer to memorize music than someone in their school-age, who is in constant learning-mode.

But we will improve with practice. And the biggest benefits of a daily music practice are not the big accomplishments. It’s the daily time spent with meaning work that adds the most to life.

Practice Is Its Own Reward

A regular practice allows us to challenge ourselves. We get to face the unknown. We see the growth that comes with persistent attention. We get to experience the breakthroughs (large and small) that bring personal satisfaction and surprise.

Practice gives us the opportunity to push our limits. It activates our brain in novel ways. It gives us structure and focus.

And even if these benefits did not spread to other areas of life (which they do), it’s still a joy to practice guitar.

Starting Can be Scary at Any Age – Just Do It

If starting guitar later in life, it’s good to remember: Guitar is hard for everyone. Reading music on guitar is a struggle at first for everyone. It’s never easy.

Starting guitar is no easier at 40 than it is at 90. For us all, there are new skills to learn. We must learn new coordination. We must learn a new musical language and think in new ways. And this is work for anyone, at any age.

So we can expect guitar to be challenging. We can expect it to come slower than it “should”. Everyone everywhere has to work hard for each incremental improvement. It’s the way of it.

Instead of fearing this, we can jump in and get started. Each day can bring new discovery and worthwhile challenge. Each moment spent on guitar is something we do for ourselves, just for fun.

Allen Mathews

Hi, I’m Allen Mathews. 

I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
Click here for a sample formula.

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