View Full Version : Is 19 to old to start learning?

06-20-2003, 04:33 PM
I'm 19 years old and i know absolutely squat about music in a technical sense... but I am extremely interested in learning to play the guitar. Is it realistic to think that I may be able to reach a level of proficiency to be able to perform or even create my own music before I am no longer "young". Or is it more realistic to think that I will struggle with the instrument until I am so old that other factors in life just cause me to give up. I can't think of any musicians off hand that didn't start before they were 16...

06-20-2003, 05:15 PM
I will give you two true examples that I know of.

1- I know a 60 something yearl old man, that is an amazing classical guitarist. In fact, he prepares classical guitar students for their final auditions/exams in the Toronto conservatory of music.
The thing is, he started playing guitar at the age of 40, prior to that, he never played the instrument.

2- When I was taking guitar lessons, there was a 50 something year old guy that was getting lessons from the same teacher I was. He was pretty good at doing fusion type stuff. He told me that he played a little when he was young, but then had kids, and could never have the time, money to take lessons, and get serious about guitar. Now that his kids were grown up, and living on their own, he finally started taking guitar lessons (for the first time) at that age.

You are only 19, that's very young. If you start playing, and practice hard, you can still become an amazing player at a young age

06-20-2003, 05:25 PM
I was just going to post a straight ahead NO, but Oceanos remarks are pretty inspiring. I think theres actually no age to learn, but there is a TIME to learn, and thats when you really feel like spending hours disecting theory and the guitar istelf just trying to figure out how it all exactly works. (I dont want to disappoint you, but i dont think you actually ever find out how it always works, but thats what keeps me going i suppose)

What im trying to say is, i don´t think you can be too old or too young, i think its about inspiration, and if music chooses you i think there´ll be no way out.

I recommend you start out by reading Guni´s Interval paper, and then just follow along his writings. In a few months youll know so much more it will definitely be easier to grasp any other topics.

Hope this helps somehow, but if you really dig music just keep up the work and dont get disappointed, it takes time but its well worth it, for me it just keeps getting more and more complex but more and more fun.

Im gonna shut up this is tooooo long an answer, when i was planning to post a NO.

Save the Koalas

06-20-2003, 05:43 PM
Actually the thing that inspired me is that one of my favorite musicians (System of a Down's Drummer) John Dolmayan didn't start playing drums til he was I think 15. Look where he is now. I figure if he can do it... so can I.

Bongo Boy
06-20-2003, 09:30 PM
Sure, it's a little tough for me to still appreciate how you feel at 19--what with the bulk of your life having flashed before you and all. :D

Another way to ask the question: is 19 old enough to start dying?

Here are your choices:

A) When you find something interesting--get to doing it, OR
B) Don't start because it's too late.

You see folks all the time who've taken Option B--they sit on their asses at 65, barely able to move themselves from point A to point B without help, their lives made complete by daytime TV and a complete paranoia of the world around them--and someone else defining their existences.

Take Option A.

I don't believe music (or anything else in life) is about the destination--you know, being a great player. It's all about the journey. What if you spend 10 years on a quest to become a great guitarist and when you get there it's not all that exciting? Better have enjoyed those 10 years, eh?

Doesn't matter much anymore what you didn't do at 15, it's what you don't do tomorrow that you have control over. Want to be 30 and wishing you had started at 19? Don't let this happen to you!! :)

I started golf at 44, guitar at 48, and may start sailing at 55. Yup...I may always suck at all 3, but I won't be watching Jerry Springer re-runs waiting to die :D

06-20-2003, 09:51 PM
I'm already 25 and I decided to abandon this stupid idea to ever play guitar... :D

Do you love music?


06-20-2003, 10:17 PM
I started guitar at 26 and I started college at 27 so I know what its like to be a late bloomer.. I spent many years doing nothing inparticular. I look back at all the wasted time and use it as inspiration to keep busy. Your never too old to take chances. So I say go for it!


06-20-2003, 10:33 PM
Yeah, if you want to play guitar, start now. My family had an acoustic guitar when I was seven. I tried learning how to play, but lost interest. Then I got my first electric at 15, but never really learned how to play. I started getting serious at 18, and for the next 9 years, I kinda learned how to play. It seems like I always had excuses not to practice much. Then I stopped playing for over 3 years. I picked it up again last December, and I've been seriously practicing every day, but I'm kicking myself for not sticking with it for all those years.

You're never to old to learn, but the sooner you start, the better off you'll be.

06-21-2003, 01:43 AM
these words are true

06-21-2003, 08:18 AM

I am now almost 30. I pick up guitar at about 18 years old.
And abandon it after a few years, and I am just back
practising about 6 months ago.

So I think the key point is preserverance, not age, if you
are really thinking of learning guitar. I am learning to
be myself.

Maybe it is isn't necessary to think that "Hey, are we going to
be as good as Satch 20 years from now?". I guess it's more
important that if you like guitar, play it and enjoy it.

06-22-2003, 03:08 AM
I started a few months ago at the age of 23, and I'd been wondering if I'd missed the boat. It's true, most of the amazingly talented people in sport and music seemed to start before they were born :D This was something that worried me, because I thought I'd never be able to achieve much because I started so late.

I now wish I had started earlier because I am enjoying learning a lot. If I had started back in school, I would have had sooo much more time to practice. But at the moment, I don't have as much time as I'd like.

Look at the number of people in this thread who say something like they started, but put it down for a few years, and came back later. Sometimes that's external things taking away your time, but I think a lot of it is interest. The most important thing to determine how far you'll go and how much you'll enjoy it isn't what age you start at but how interested you are in playing and learning. I think that's what Koala means with "if music chooses you". When the bug bites, that's the time to go for it!

If the bug has bitten you, get into it. What I am afraid of is things changing such that I can't spend much time with the guitar before I get decent enough to be able to play at least somewhat well. So I sorta dove in a bit. If you don't have the gear, get it. If you want lessons, make them happen. I'm definitely glad I went for the lessons, because it's given me so much stuff to look at and work on.

Anyway, long enough answer :D

06-22-2003, 12:48 PM
i think the hard part about starting guitar at 19, rather than at age 5, is that you are now starting to take on more responsibilities - getting good grades, doing well at college / university, getting a good job & money, girlfriend..etc..etc. and of course, expectations from parents. all of which, when you think about it, may work against your choice to be a musician and take away a lot of practicing time.

but i think there should always be time for yourself - if you want to pursue something you love, take some time everday to learn it. since life is so short, we should make the most out of it right?

you should realize tho, that people like vai/satch/gilbert practiced at least 12 hrs a day for several years (~8years) before they became very proficient. so even for them, it did not come quickly, and if you have less time than them to practice, then realistically, progress will be much slower.


06-22-2003, 01:15 PM
Well I think I have officially decided to go and get the equipment and pursue this... As far as using my time to focus on good grades... yeah that is a priority, but I already have a good job and a girlfriend who (although is a little demanding of my time) supports me in doing things I love. So you guys will see more of me around here.

06-22-2003, 04:11 PM
Originally posted by potshot

If you don't have the gear, get it. If you want lessons, make them happen..

AMEN POTSHOT! Seriously inspiring words my man.

06-22-2003, 04:16 PM
:D Hey Empty good luck with the music, and the girl lol. I think anyone can be satch, but being a musician and having a stable relationship is a real challenge.

If you want to read a funny story about it check out my post as well as some others here:

Loads of good advice on there

06-23-2003, 01:28 AM
I think 19's way too young to start playing guitar, but what the heck. Have a go at it!
Seriously, I started 3 years ago at 46 and am having the time of my life! This is the best hobby that I've ever had. True, I'll never be a rock & roll star, but that's OK, I have a hard time staying up past 10:30 anyway.

Dr. J
06-25-2003, 10:04 PM
I picked up a guitar at 16 , put it down at 18, then picked it up again at 42.
The learning on this journey is more about state of mind than age.

06-25-2003, 10:54 PM
I think from all this its a resounding no m8. You can start anytime as long as you put in the time. You can b as good as u want to get.

Abraham Lincoln
06-29-2003, 03:04 AM
Advantages of beginning guitar at 19:

1. You're hands are fully grown. Thus, you are physically more able to play than someone who started early on.

2. You've more than likely been listening to music for quite some time now and if so, you'll have a better ear than people who started early on.

3. You'll have more patience than a young student.

4. You have the attention span to take time to learn the instrument.

5. Hopefully, you wouldn't give up as easily as a young student either.

autumn leaves
06-29-2003, 05:21 AM
This is my first post, but I've been coming to IBM.com forever.

Anyway. I think it's safe to say that everyone here is rooting for you, honey. The only person that can inhibit your progress is YOU.

If playing the guitar is something you really want to do, don't give it another thought! Get your guitar, tune it and just play. The guitar is a very lenient instrument. It's not like you want to become the world's best glockenspielist, which may present difficulty. You'll have plenty of time in your musical journey to think about and analyze your playing. You'll come in and out of places of inspiration. It's a journey.

I picked up the guitar before I was a teenager, I "caught the bug" and sat in my bedroom each night fiddling with a guitar that I hadn't even learned to tune. I took a few lessons with an absolutely impatient guitarist who didn't help me much at all. I was discouraged and put the guitar down.

Years later, I pick up the guitar on my own terms, my own time and haven't put it down yet. It certainly hasn't been a day at the beach but I'm still learning and still going.

If you feel it...do it. Don't worry about anyone else's opinions. good or bad.

You say you're inspired by the guys of SOAD. Well, The singer Serj worked as a computer programmer before he did music and didn't make it big in soad until his early/mid thirties.

Tom morello didn't pick up the guitar until he was 18. Even if you don't like his style, he's definitely a respected guitarist amongst his genre.

Just play!


06-29-2003, 10:44 AM
And I think if you´re determined, there´s nothing that should keep you from trying it.
Ever heard of Patrick Rondat ? He´s a french guitarist, has some serious chops, has released several instrumental albums, and is the guitarist for Jean-Michel Jarre.
As far as I know, he started playing when he was 18 years old. And he is really really good.

Oh, and there´s this guy named Allan Holdsworth ( ;) ) who got his first acoustic guitar when he was 17, and it took him a while till he got serious about practising, too.

I know some people who go "Well, I´m too old to learn that".
think that if you really want it, make efficient use of your practising time and keep your goals realistic, you can definitely achieve what you want to achieve...

Shred Fan
07-02-2003, 12:49 PM
I think everyone else has pretty much said it , but i'll put in my $0.02 nonetheless. IMHO, 19 is definately not to old, as long as you have the desire for the music you can never be to old to play.

You just need to be prepared to put in all the hard work and have the dedication and desire it takes and that alone is all you need. As pointed out, starting when older most definately also has benefits.

There is no point thinking about it, get an axe and start working.

Shred on.
-Shred Fan

Bongo Boy
07-03-2003, 04:10 AM
Originally posted by Shred Fan
There is no point thinking about it.This is the most significant comment made so far. Kinda like "Do, or don't do. There is no 'try'." Master Yoda. Are you off dead stick yet?

Shred Fan
07-03-2003, 07:11 AM
Haha, exactly right Bongo. Wondering about it will achieve nothing, you need to take action. You must do or do not, there is no try.

Bongo Boy
07-29-2003, 06:02 AM
Thanks, Shred. I may be an old geezer, but I'll tell you young punks one thing: life only sucks when you look back on your existence in pathetic wonder at why you didn't do this or didn' do that. If you're on the internet, chances are you live in a flippin' paradise compared to 2/3 of the world. Stop the whining.

I overheard a woman today at the golf club whining to her freinds about how badly she wanted to be a marine biologist all her life, but "couldn't ever do that". She was like 35. You're making me sick. Get off your *** and get started with your life, eh? Maybe biology classes would be a start--and you'd soon learn what you're made of.

Okay, I'm done now. "Shut up and play yer guitar." :)

07-29-2003, 03:22 PM
Oh so true Bongo.

07-29-2003, 06:56 PM
Hehe, right on Bongo!

Also regarding what Abraham said, I think he nailed it. I started guitar right before my 20th birthday and I love it, I'm improving everyday (I still would probably have to say that in the grand scheme of things I suck, but I'm very pleased with my progress towards unsucking).

I actually had a teacher tell me that he's never seen a student assimilate theory as quickly as I have and my guess isn't that I'm a genius it's just that I didn't start until I had already been through school and some of college...I've pretty much got this studying book stuff down ;) Now if only my hands would catch up with my brain I'd be rippin'

Most younger kids walk through the door and say "Teach me some Blink 182" I walked through the door and was like, "Let's talk about the fundamentals of harmony."

Good luck!


08-02-2003, 10:50 PM
a mate of mine started a year ago and he is now a better player than me in some respects ( bastard) although i started when i was 13 i just noodled and to this day i still do

just dont force it man if you force it it will be a chore just do whats fun and you ill find yourself playing for hours;)

08-04-2003, 08:38 PM
I learned how to play guitar 8 years ago and I've been teaching myself since then, the intensity of my practicing has varied from "religiously" to "lazily" About 3 years ago I started med-school and it just left me with no time, now I'm married and I don't have much time to practice (and I'm just 22 <!!!!>), but I still try to get at least a few minutes every day, so yeah, it's just a mater of doing what you love... and hey Koala, I'll be posting licks soon, just let me get some time to write them down, I'm into exotic scales a lot, so I usually come up with wierd modal stuff... maybe I can't shred like I want to, but at least I can come up with some interesting stuff...

Bongo Boy
08-06-2003, 03:32 AM
Since we've chosen to beat this topic to death with a Nerf bat, might as well continue...

Originally posted by DanF
I still would probably have to say that in the grand scheme of things I suck, but I'm very pleased with my progress towards unsucking).I'm going to have this quote framed and hung on my practice room wall. It says everything to me.

...my guess isn't that I'm a genius it's just that I didn't start until I had already been through school and some of college...I've pretty much got this studying book stuff downAnother good point...learning itself is something you learn to do. Sounds kinda stupid (well, then it probably is), but you do have to learn how to study, learn how to practice, learn how to hear, etc. One problem with learning any of these skills though is that you have to win once in awhile--somehow you have to recognize the fact that indeed you've learned something. If this isn't pointed out to you (by yourself or by someone else), I don't think you'll figure out what behaviors to repeat.

Hmmm...so did we all succeed in freaking out Fon du Lac Bob so badly that the poor guy is now over on the www.whosthegreatestshreddertoeverlive.com site?

Bongo Boy
08-06-2003, 03:44 AM
Originally posted by Bongo Boy
Hmmm...so did we all succeed in freaking out Fon du Lac Bob so badly that the poor guy is now over on the www.whosthegreatestshreddertoeverlive.com site?BTW I've registered that domain name already so don't get any ideas fellas. :)

08-23-2003, 11:15 AM
if 19 is too old to start learning my 22 year old butt is in for some serious difficulty.

my opinion is that you're never too old to start learning anything. and the day i stop wanting to learn about everything i'll more than likely be dead

08-23-2003, 07:50 PM
i started playing at 13 and i loved it from the moment i first held a guitar. im not 15 and i still kinda suck but im making progress.
i dont see any reason for having an age limit on learning an instrument. my guitar teacher teaches guys aged 30-40 along with the younger ones so i say its sort of a universal thing and dont let your age stop you. if you've got the passion, its worth carrying it out, you'll only regret it if you dont.
plus, 19 is nothing compared to 35, you're still a teenager. its possible that u could be a professional when you're 21-22 if you really work at it. good luck!

08-25-2003, 06:09 PM
Hmmm...so did we all succeed in freaking out Fon du Lac Bob so badly that the poor guy is now over on the [url]www.whosthegreatestshreddertoeverlive.com
Hi Bongo Boy,
Yeah I did run and hide atwww.whosthegreatestshreddertoeverlive.com but have now thankfully found my way back:rolleyes:

Bongo Boy
08-25-2003, 10:43 PM
Thank goodness! Now...what was your question again? :D

08-26-2003, 09:19 PM
I am also 19 and just started playing guitar 7 months ago. It is never too late to learn. I believe Noodles from the Offspring was 18 when he started to play guitar. I just think, if he can do it, so can I.

08-26-2003, 09:28 PM
...welcome @ ibreathe, bruiseviolet :)

08-26-2003, 09:34 PM
Yeah, welcome! Stay a while, stay forever...bwahaha. No seriously, glad to see ya :)