By Paul Lorenz
Recently the majority of students in the Vail area, taking lessons from me, have been adults, mostly women with their kids raised, who always wanted to take lessons, but couldn’t do so while raising their families. Some unfortunately carry with them issues that habitually get in the way of their learning, which is the baggage to which I refer. Unlike the airlines, I don’t charge extra for checked baggage, but I might in the form of a higher rate if you carry it on and it creates frequent conflicts.
Generally, the same prerequisites for taking lessons apply whether you are 5 or 85 years old. This means you will need a piano, have time to practice, be in good mental and physical health, not about to move, and also carry a positive mindset.
The beginning musical content is not unlike that used for children, except it is more geared for a later beginner. The titles are more mature, and the pedagogic material is a little less graphic. If, on the other hand, you’ve had lessons when you were younger, that will be advantageous; however, don’t expect to pick up right where you left off many years ago. You may have to backtrack a little.
There are however several issues that often come up with adults that I would like to address. One deals with an occasional emotional block, and the other three are availability issues that frequently come up.
- Lesson “phobia.” Do you have an irrational fear, such as fear of flying, for example? One recent student had this issue with piano lessons. She would clam up when asked to play her assigned material. Keep in mind piano teachers are not therapists. If you have an anxiety or self-confidence issues, I would like to recommend a therapy center called Positive Changes (639-8299), which uses hypnosis in treating issues like this. You may have seen their TV ads. They would much better equipped to help you with that problem than I would. I am equipped to help you strictly from the pianistic standpoint, developing confidence through good practice skills.
- Work hours. If you work a demanding job, you will need to think carefully if that will be compatible with taking lessons before you inquire. I generally would advise against enrolling in lessons if you work more than 50 hours a week.
- If you qualify for frequent-flyer miles with some airline, you likely will not qualify for piano lessons with this teacher. Travel and music lessons don’t mix if they perennially compete for the same space in your life. That however may not be a problem if you travel occasionally and are willing to coordinate the travel time with the scheduled breaks from lessons.
- Having company. “I can’t have a lesson next week because my (in-laws) are coming.” Avoiding this conflict would seem to me a no-brainer, given the six days a week you won’t have a lesson. Must it be on your lesson day? People generally don’t force visitations; however, no one is a mind-reader. One who wants to visit you will likely plan around your prior commitments, provided you inform them accordingly.
You are welcome to take lessons from this teacher, regardless of your age, insofar as you meet the prerequisites. Keep in mind breaks are coordinated with the school calendar since most of my students are children (summer: approx. 6/10-7/20; winter: 12/20-1/4). Please note school starts in July out here. If you find that bizarre, so do I! But it is the reality. I charge two rates based on your annual availability: a by-the-lesson rate, or a lower monthly rate, which carries an annual minimum of 39 lessons. You may choose either rate plan. Good luck.