Contrary to popular belief, it is never to late to learn to play music. Adults of any age can be taught a musical instrument and can also learn to read music.
While learning an instrument alone is rewarding, learning with a group of peers can be even more enjoyable. Group music making is associated with a number of benefits, including personal, social, physical, and psychological advantages.
For example, group music making provides opportunities for intellectual stimulation and challenge, the experience of camaraderie and contribution to a group, and also fulfills a need to have activities to look forward to such as rehearsals and performances.
Some recreational musicians also report a sense of improved well-being from music making, as well as enhanced breathing and motor-coordination related to playing a wind instrument.
Due in part to the advantages associated with playing music, recreational music making for senior adults is gaining in popularity. A leader in this movement is the New Horizons International Music Association (NHIMA).
NHIMA provides an outlet to learn or return to music making in a group setting. The organization was founded in 1992 in Rochester, NY, and has grown to include over 200 ensembles in four continents.
Lexington, KY is home to a New Horizons Band and a New Horizons Orchestra, as well as affiliated ensembles such as a jazz band, clarinet choir, and assorted chamber groups.
New Horizons music organizations differ from traditional community bands or orchestras in a few ways. First, New Horizons offers a musical outlet for all learners, regardless of experience or ability. The second unique aspect of New Horizons is that learning takes place in a group setting.
Rather than weekly private lessons, teachers provide group instruction on how to play an instrument and how to learn to read printed music. This environment allows for learning in a friendly, relaxed, and social atmosphere.
In addition, when members feel ready, they can join in the fun of performing throughout the community. Some New Horizons members also participate in summer adult music camps throughout the United States and abroad.
If an adult is interested in learning or re-learning an instrument through New Horizons, they should contact the membership coordinator or director of the group. This information can be found at www.newhorizonsmusic.org.
NHIMA group schedules, tuition prices, and ensembles vary by location. Some ensembles have a minimum age requirement (typically 50), and others welcome adults of all ages. The organization in your area should be contacted for specifics about membership.
Individuals interested in learning an instrument should acquire an instrument in good working condition. Local music stores can usually provide rentals for most woodwinds, brass, string and percussion instruments.
Buying a used instrument from a second-hand dealer, such as a flea market or on e-bay is not recommended. Often times these instruments come with problems that will need to be fixed, and will interfere with progress if left uncorrected.
Selecting an instrument is exciting, but can be daunting if you’re not sure what to look for. It is recommended to choose an instrument that you enjoy the sound of and will fit the instrumentation of the group you hope to join. For example, while a guitar is a stringed instrument, it would not be found in a string orchestra.
Also, some times physical ailments may be necessary to consider. For example, severe arthritis may limit a player’s success at a woodwind instrument, but would not be a problem for a brass instrument. The director of the New Horizons group, or a music store representative can help you find a good fit for these considerations.