In this guest blog post, Clementine shares her own experiences of picking up the flute again after a break, and restarting as an adult learner. I teach a lot of adults and I thoroughly enjoy it! They all bring their own experiences and insights to their lessons, and whilst they’re often nervous restarting, they quickly realise how much they remember, and maybe even sometimes, it’s not as scary as they thought!
I wanted to share with you a little bit about my journey of restarting playing the flute as an adult learner after a break of about 16 years, and how it’s never too late to return to playing a musical instrument.
I started having flute lessons when I was 10 years old. I carried on having flute lessons at secondary school, including joining the school band, and eventually, I went on to do my Grade 3 Flute exam. But…and yes there’s a but…(perhaps you can relate too)…I was 15 at the time, and I just decided that I didn’t really want to play the flute anymore. I was a teenager, and I just wanted to do something different, so I started having drum lessons, as you do! My flute ended up being put back in its case and put into storage for as long as I can remember. Occasionally over the years, I would come across it, and I remember thinking ‘if only I had carried on playing it.’ I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said this to myself over the years!
I’ve played the drums for many years now, and I also started learning to play the violin a few years ago. But deep down, learning to play the flute again was always in the back of my mind. It was an instrument that I had grown up playing, and I had very fond memories of playing it. But I think I just assumed that I probably wouldn’t have lessons again. I wasn’t really sure who I could find to teach me, and my flute ended up staying in its case.
Fast forward to now, and as you’ve probably already guessed, I’m playing the flute again! After about 16 years, my flute was finally out of its case again. Yes, it took a while to get back into the swing of playing again, but I’m so thankful that I was able to start learning to play it again. I was able to find a really amazing teacher (who’s also my husband, so I’m a bit biased), and the love I had for playing it quickly returned. I’m now working towards doing my Grade 4 Flute exam!
Sadly, my flute had also seen better days; after all, it’s over 20 years old! With David’s help, I was able to find a brand new Yamaha YFL212 flute from Just Flutes that was within my budget and which sounds so lovely. I’m keeping my original flute as after all, it was my very first flute and I’m attached to it, but the new one has made such a difference to my playing.
By having flute lessons again as an adult learner, and someone who has come back to learning an instrument after many years away , it has taught me a lot, especially about myself, and I would love to share some of these thoughts with you, in the hope they may encourage you too.
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By picking up my flute again and playing it, I realised just how much I remembered. Perhaps you can relate to this too. I know some of my first thoughts were: ‘what if I have completely forgotten how to play it’; ‘what if I have forgotten how to read flute music; I’m going to have to go right back to the beginning’…and so on.
As soon as I picked up my flute, I realised just how much I could remember, and it’s actually surprising how quickly the rest comes back to you. Yes, I had to revisit some of the basics, but the more I played, the more it felt comfortable, the more I learned, and the love and joy I once had for playing the flute returned.
It helped to put all of those negative thoughts that I had of not being able to play the flute again in the bin. There’s also something special about picking up an instrument after so many years and playing it again. It’s always good to remember why you started learning an instrument in the first place and this has been a good reminder.
It also helped me to challenge myself, to do something I perhaps didn’t think I would do again. It’s given me something else to work on, and it’s definitely been great for my mental health too. This last Christmas, I even volunteered to play in a carol service at church. I definitely didn’t think over the years that I would be playing the flute in a band again, something I really loved to do. I had also forgotten just how much playing the flute helped my asthma. I’ve heard people mention this before, but for me, it helps my breathing a lot. The breathing exercises, along with learning to play different pieces with different techniques helped in so many ways, especially with my breathing.
I mentioned above that I’m working on my Grade 4 Flute exam, something I always wanted to do. By playing the flute again, and working towards my Grade 4, it’s helping my confidence a lot. As I said, I didn’t think I would end up playing the flute in a band again, let alone playing the flute in front of other people. Not forgetting, I’ve also taken part in two of David’s flute choirs, which has been so much fun, and I can’t wait for the next one!
Playing the flute again as an adult learner has helped with a number of other things too. It’s helping me with my posture, especially as I have quite a painful neck at times. It also helps me to relax and unwind, learn new skills, make new friends, and meet new people who also play the flute. It’s also helping me to be more creative with music and to express myself.
There’s probably lots more things that I could write about too, but I can honestly say, no matter what your age, it’s never too late to start learning an instrument again, or to even start learning an instrument from scratch. Even as an adult learner or returner, the benefits and joy it brings are endless. If you’re thinking of picking up an instrument again after many years, or for the first time, I say do it!
I’d love to know if you’ve picked up an instrument again for the first time in many years, and what your experiences are? Perhaps you’re thinking about learning an instrument again; if so, let me know!
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One response to “Being an Adult Learner: a Personal Insight”
Thank you so much 🙏🏻🥰