I am 60 years old. Is it too late too learn how to play the violin?

Of all the FAQ's, this must be the M(ost) FAQ. As a society, we offer adult classes in everything from computer programming to skiing...from photography to sculpting. There's an entire continuing education industry dedicated to engaging older adults in new and worthwhile endeavors. No one ever asks, "Am I too old to learn how to paint?" But somewhere along the line this belief arose that unless you start violin when you're three-years-old, there's no hope. Now, I'm not denying there are certain advantages to taking up violin (or any activity) at a young age. Learning a language comes to mind, and music can be considered a language in it own right. But of all the skills or activities in this world, violin-playing seems uniquely positioned as the only one you must begin out of the womb because you'll never make it to Carnegie Hall if you wait till you're a toddler! All of which may be true, but my guess is you aren't trying to make it to Carnegie, or the Ryman or even your civic auditorium...any more than the 65-year-old grandma in tennis shorts is trying to make to Wimbledon.

You know what I believe is the main difference between you and the ten-year-old learning the violin....life. You have one and the ten-year-old doesn't. You have a job, a mortgage, a car payment and a million other obligations vying for your time and preventing you from practicing an hour a day. You (presumably) also don't have a parent standing over you making you practice and/or a teacher doing the same. One of the main reasons kids progress further and faster than adults is simple...they open their case, pull out the violin and bow, and practice. And then they repeat those actions the next day. The toughest obstacle you'll face in learning the violin (with apologies to Nike) is doing it. Sure, kids may have some advantages but so do you, such as a lifetime of experiences and communication skills. Maybe you've never changed the oil in your car yourself, but if I said, "To start, find a twelve millimeter wrench and crawl under the engine of your car," you would at least have some understanding of my instructions. You would know what a wrench is and where your engine is. Would an eight-year-old?

Music-related trade groups recently began campaigns targeting "recreational music makers." Nowhere could this be more valuable than in the violin world. There's enormous benefit to engaging the brain in new activities through all stages of life. Is sixty too old to learn golf, knitting or skydiving? How about learning computers? Assuming no unknown physical conditions, there's nothing that should keep an older adult from learning the violin. As with most anything in life, you'll go as far as your own talent, practice and dedication will take you.