Welcome to the Adult Music Education Wikia

Many people regret not spending more time learning to play a musical instrument in childhood. Perhaps they were turned off by an overzealous teacher, or they didn't have time with other activities or obligations, or any multitude of reasons, it can be rewarding to help them approach it anew. It's never too late! The following resources support building, growing, and maintaining a program to guide adult learners to realize the benefits of a musical life.

"The point is, art never stopped a war and never got anybody a job. That was never its function. Art cannot change events. But it can change people. It can affect people so that they are changed… because people are changed by art - enriched, ennobled, encouraged - they then act in a way that may affect the course of events... by the way they vote, they behave, the way they think."
Leonard Bernstein,
John Gruen interview in Los Angeles Times, December 31, 1972


Adult education is about learning from other and making new connections as much as it is about learning. Learning to play music is a great forum for people to come together and produce some music and good vibes they can share with the community around them. There are an endless number of combinations to form a musical group, or even going solo and playing guitar in a church or coffee house.

Many cities have established community bands for adults who enjoy playing music with friends. This wiki gathers resources on establishing and growing a program to help adults with little or no experience find a path to join the fun, and learn some along the way!

This site was created as part of a project for Western Kentucky University's ADED 510: Intro to Adult Education.

keywords: adult education, music education, lifelong learning, community music, instrumental music

Adult Music Education Resources

  • There is no governmental regulation over who can start an adult musical group or music studio with an adult education emphasis. Several music education professional associations and support groups that can offer ideas.
  • The National Association for Music Education is a professional group formed to advance music education. One special research interest group deals with research on adult education in music.
  • New Horizons International Music Association is a non-profit organization to create new learning opportunities for adults. They are a fledgling professional association with resources to support adult music groups of all kinds.
  • The Heartland Winds is a community band based in Elizabethtown, Kentucky which presents performances free to the public several times a year. Their website lists the organizational structure, which could be used as a template. Membership requirements are musical proficiency and $15 dues. One has to know how to play an instrument to join, so this is not an entry level group. Learners can easily find several local options to seek music lessons and gain the proficiency needed to join. Participation in a group could be a goal of learners in adult music education.
  • For just a few dollars at a local home improvement store, learners of all ages can be brought together with the music of the Bucket Book. While the book is primarily aimed at children, the fundamentals can be taught to anyone. Author David Birrow recently presented at the Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic where a handout explains how to obtain materials on a very low budget and teach a few basic lessons to establish a groove and begin making music. Birrow's blog and instructional videos are useful resources to start a program.
  • The wiki site on How to Read Music can be a basic starting place for students who are brand new to learning to play an instrument. It could be assigned as homework or used as a reference. In my own experience, even after playing music for several years, going back to basics can reveal some new knowledge or refine skills. In working through this site with adult learners, there is opportunity for everyone to learn.
  • An adult learner looking for a quick way to get basic proficiencies could find many internet resources. According to a story by Derek Reed at the website Fast Company, "all top 10 searches on YouTube with the word "lesson" in them were music related, and searches for guitar tutorials jumped 50% in 2011 from 2010."
  • Matthew Harre has produced an informative website with an integrated blog and facebook page on adult piano lessons. Mr. Harre is interviewed at this youtube link. He talks about the differences in adult learners and how to approach giving them new skills. A recorded lesson gives viewers an example of the individualistic nature involved in teaching advanced technique.
  • Carnegie Hall has provided some resources for music teachers and students.
  • The US Army Field Band has educational video lessons that can help self directed learners.

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