One of the things that beginners (especially adults!) fear about learning a new (or first) instrument is "LESSONS". "Good grief! What if the teacher is (shudder) YOUNGER THAN ME!???" Maybe private lessons are really expensive? "What if I have to sit outside their studio waiting while all these young kids are walking in and out and playing waaaay better than me!?" "I know...I'll just buy some method books and hide in my own garage!"

Those are very real concerns that need to be dealt with. Let's take 'em one at a time.

First: Who cares what age the teacher is? As you get older, more and more of the population is going to be younger "compared to you". Let's say you're 80 years old...you want a 90 year old dentist looking after you using techniques (and equipment) he/she learned maybe 65 or 70 years back? Or some young hotshot with the latest in technology, diagnostics, etc.? I know which I'd take. Get over it...sometimes the youth DO have an advantage!

Second: The cost....I thought that private lessons would be costly. To "prove it" to myself I phoned the local university music conservatory. Guess what? 1/2 hour cost me $17.50 Cdn, PRIVATE, with a "student instructor". Hey...they let me do engineering, I let them make music. Eveybody has to start somewhere. Another option is to see if you can find a local Community Band organisation that has development levels within. Sometimes you can get dirt-cheap lessons that way and even get to play and learn in a group. Believe me, there are things you are going to learn in a group setting that you will NOT learn "in private and/or by yourself". Counting is #1 on that list, playing in tune with the rest of the group is #2.

Third: Kids taking lessons and hearing your clams. Get over it. Some of those kids popping off notes that you don't dream of reaching (yet), have been at it for three, four, five years longer than you. It's just one of the things that you have to say "Hey...at least I'm starting and my parents aren't forcing me". (Chances are that in 10 years they'll have quit and you'll be just hitting your stride anyway.) I used the similarity between this and when I went back to University for my second degree. There I was, 38 odd, married and with kids and in a classroom with all these 19 to 21 year olds. Sneaky...I had an advantage. "Age and cunning overcome youth and exuberance every time". I was able to relate to that previous experience to make the most efficient use of my time and essentially breeze through. Apply that same thinking to learning to play.

Fourth: Hiding in your room will NEVER teach you how to count properly. What are you going to do? Woodshed and play music for yourself the rest of your life? (If "yes", then why are you bothering at all? Go watch TV!) Or do you want to get together with others and make MUSIC!? Then you have to count, stay in tune, etc. The discipline is good for you... remember ...you are having to learn to be a TEAM PLAYER. And, in my mind, playing in a group is the most serious form of teamwork that I've found, all sports included. If everyone in the band isn't thinking in lockstep and doesn't EXECUTE properly, you end up with a train wreck. And from personal experience, there is NOTHING more humiliating than having to stop and restart a piece "in concert".

So do NOT fear "jumping off that precipice". Honest...it's not that bad. It's the fear of the unknown that is worse than anything else...get over that and you've got it "made in the shade".

Remember, I'm pulling for you. We're all in this together.

(with apologies to Red Green)