For many adults, music lessons have been either a lifelong pursuit or unfulfilled dream. Some have taken lessons since childhood, some on and off or with different instruments; for some, they have only recently developed the courage or the resources, financial or time, for studying. Because adults come to lessons with such a wide variety of experience and knowledge, teachers need to be flexible and creative in lessons.
The Adult Student
- Has many more commitments than young students. They may have families with multiple schedules, full time jobs that come with hectic or unpredictable hours, or are completing collegiate studies.
- Wants to take music lessons to become a better musician, to learn a new instrument, for a fun, stress free activity, or any combination!
Teaching adult students requires patience and flexibility when working to schedule lessons, but that doesn’t mean teachers shouldn’t hold adults accountable for practice time or attempting to keep a consistent schedule. Adults tend to understand the value of a teacher’s time better than younger students, especially since they’re the ones paying.
Creating Lesson Goals
Typically, adults have a better idea of what they want out of lessons than young children or even teenagers. Some adults will come in with specific works or songs they hope to master. Others may want to learn a specific style of music and are open to where lessons take them.
- Help your adult students reach their goals by setting short and long term benchmarks. Just like for younger students, adults can benefit from a systematic approach to learning.
- Remind your students that learning music and mastering technique will take time. Encourage them to love the process of being a musician. Short term goals are a great way to keep adults engaged and working hard.
Relating to Adults
For some teachers, working with adults feels easier than working with kids. For others, it’s quite the opposite. But adult lessons do not have to be intimidating or stressful. In fact, teaching adults can be a great way for teachers to learn even more about their craft as musicians and instructors.
- Age is just a number. Regardless if you are the same age or twenty years younger than your student, you control the lesson structure.
- Adults understand sarcasm and humor. Remember to use both appropriately. Professional boundaries are still important to maintain with adult lessons.
- You can be more candid with adult students. While still being tactful, you can generally give adult students more constructive criticism than younger students. Most adults have learned not to take feedback personally.
- Adults want to have fun and feel good about themselves in lessons just as much as kids.
Many adults are open to where music takes them. Bask in the flexibility and excitement this can bring to lessons and celebrate life long learning!