The Nature Of Why ... and why not?



I wanted to write a blog about famous piano players who started late in life, overcoming their fear of being inferior to children who started young, and eventually becoming incredibly skilled and creative. I couldn't find any examples of people like that on the internet, although there are plenty in PianoEasy classes.


Very few people learn instruments to become famous, or to become the best in the world - they learn so they can play the songs they love. The joy that that brings, as well as the challenge of learning, is what attracts people of all ages to music - it's a shame that every person who thinks they're too old to make a start is one more piano player the world won't get to hear. Obviously it's natural to sound like a beginner when you start learning, but it seems like once we hit a certain age we don't allow ourselves to do that anymore.


This year, for Perth Festival, the British Paraorchestra teamed up with choreographer Caroline Bowditch and a group of dancers she selected to produce The Nature of Why. It was an incredibly uplifting show that brought people of all ages and abilities together with rhythm and movement. Afterwards, I asked one of the dancers how long he had been dancing for and he said "Since I was 27... I believe it's never too late to start." 27 might not sound old, but when you consider that most dancers have been at it since they were old enough to walk, it's positively ancient.


That dancer's level of skill would suggest that starting late can be a benefit as well as a challenge. When you start playing piano as an adult, for example, you bring everything you've learned so far in your life to your playing, which makes your experience and understanding of the music more profound. You also understand the value of music more. It was clear that the dancer I spoke to had a deep understanding of the value of movement and rhythm as a gift shared between performers and observers, and in terms of piano it's easier for mature students to appreciate the sense of connection you can build by playing music for (or with) your friends.


So why not start late, play like a beginner for a year or two (or a few), and be proud that you can share your own particular style of music with those around you, even if you don't play as flawlessly as the kids in your class?


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