I wanted to share some thoughts on that growth as an adult learner.
Now, I am an adult… well, mostly. And I feel like, as such, I am expected to just know things. My kids expect me to just know things. And not just things… everything. Since I don’t know everything, though, I am always in the pursuit of knowledge and new skills. But, I feel like when adults learn new things, it’s not quite as impressive as when kids learn things and people don’t get as excited about it. Personally, I take issue with this.
I’ll give you an example. I love singing. I am a singer, I’ve always been a singer and I will go to my grave singing. But when I was a kid, I wanted to dance ballet. Because we didn’t have a lot of money, I couldn’t take ballet classes. Life was hard; it was fine. But now, as an adult, I have the money, the time, and most importantly, the desire to learn.
I actually don’t have time. I’m trying to establish musical world domination. But I digress…
See, the thing about adult learners is that we make the best students because we actually want to be in the class. However, the reaction I get when I tell people that I want to learn ballet is not one of encouragement. I often get questioning or condescending looks. Why? If I want to learn, why can’t I? I love ballet. I’m not trying to be a professional ballerina, I just want to learn a beautiful art form. I feel like it’s like that for a lot of things and it shouldn’t be. Learning is not reserved for the young; my 98-yr old great aunt used to say that she learned something new every day. She said this at 98.
Now, I love my students. They are all amazing people and singers and I enjoy teaching them. However, a lot of my students are teens with very busy lives outside of my studio and practicing singing sometimes gets put on the back burner. They still do impressively well, but it’s the adult learners that progress really fast because they make the time to practice despite all the other things going on. To them, taking voice lessons is the fulfillment of a life goal and so they work really hard at it. I love it when these students make sounds they never thought they could. The look of joy and fulfillment on their faces when they finally conquer high notes fills me with joy. I get just as excited when my adult students make progress and learn something new as when my younger students do. I want to encourage them to keep going. They’re not trying to be professional singers (well, not all of them, anyway), but they do want to sing their best and learn a new skill and feel more confident. And why shouldn’t they?
Stephen Sondheim once said, “If I cannot fly, let me sing.” So, to all of my adults out there, what is it that you’ve always wanted to learn? What is the thing that makes you fly? Dancing? Singing? Underwater basket weaving? This month, I am going to challenge all of you that want to learn something new to get out there and try it. The personal growth will be amazing! Until next time songbirds, just keep singing!