Here’s why it’s never too late to learn bass

You can be 90 years old and still learn something new

By Jon Liebman
April 22, 2022

I hear it all the time. I’m too old to learn bass. I missed my chance. It’s too late for me to learn to play any of those great classic rock tunes I used to love so much when I was younger.

You might be surprised to know that most people who come to For Bass Players Only to learn bass have “always wanted” to play bass but were never in a position to put in the time. Now that they’re older and they realize that they never got very far with it, they feel like it would be a shame to pass up an opportunity to learn to play an instrument.

Many of these people, mostly men, now in their 50s, 60s, 70s…, spent decades working in an office or corporate environment, which allowed very little, if any time to do something just for them.

It’s incredibly fulfilling to watch the transformations that are taking place now that these people know how to lay down a feel-good bass groove. I’m so happy to have them in the For Bass Players Only community. Even better, they’re thrilled to be here!

I had a wonderful conversation recently with Joseph Patrick Moore, published as this week’s FBPO interview. Joseph is not only a phenomenal bassist, but he’s an also an acclaimed composer, producer, and record company founder. 

Though he’s still a ways off from being dubbed a “senior citizen,” when the subject of learning bass for the “over 50” population came up, Joseph hit the nail right on the head. 

“The fun aspect has to be first,” he says. “And then, you start realizing, ‘I don’t really know what I’m doing.’” 

It’s what happens after that realization that’s become absolutely life-changing for these folks. 

For late starters, or for “it’s been a while” bass players, progress might not happen as fast as they’d like. But they’re doing something about it.

As Joseph observes, these guys start slowly, moving their hands, following the tab, etc. “Hopefully,” he says, “that’ll motivate someone to say, ‘You know, I really want to know what that note is,’ or ‘I really want to know what scale goes with this chord.’ Hopefully that’ll motivate somebody into getting deeper into the educational side and the theory stuff, and putting it all together.”

Here at FBPO, that happens every day. Unlike a child being unwillingly dragged through the chore of taking music lessons, these people aren’t doing it because they have to. They’re doing it because they want to.

Take Jim, for example, now in his late 60s. Jim hails from New York and spent most of his adult life working in a business environment and raising a family, leaving little or no time to learn to play an instrument – or much of anything else. Now Jim can’t get enough of it. He’s become obsessed with learning how to play the blues and classic rock! He’s a changed man.

Then there’s Tony, from England. Tony’s story is different than Jim’s in that he did have a career in music, playing saxophone at a professional level for over 60 years. During the pandemic, Tony, now 81 years old, started having breathing problems which made playing the saxophone too difficult for him. So he took up the bass! “Thank you for all your, help!” he wrote to me, his excitement coming through loud and clear. Learning bass has opened up a whole new world for Tony.

I have countless other stories, but I think you get the point. Older people have a more mature attitude toward learning music too. What’s more, they have enough life experience to know that they’ve got to put in the time and can’t expect to get the results without doing the work.

“It’s never too late,” Joseph says. “You can be 90 years old and want to learn something. The learning never stops.”

What about you? Do you know someone who took up the bass late in life? (Maybe you?) What kinds of experiences have you seen? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. You can watch my interview with Joseph here.

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