It’s Never Too Late To Learn
George Eliot once said, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” She was right. If there is something you always wanted to learn but for whatever reason – financial, having the time to do it, not feeling confident enough to try – you didn’t, perhaps now is the time to pick up that paintbrush, dust off those knitting needles, or slip on those dancing shoes and finally give it a try.
Forget all you’ve heard about not being able to teach old dogs new tricks; young or old, it is always possible to learn something new, and if it is something you have harboured a yearning to be better at for years, then all the better. Now is the time because if not now, when?
Learning to play the piano well is many people’s dream, and although it looks difficult, it doesn’t need to be out of reach. Mastering the basics of piano won’t, with plenty of practise, take long, although reaching the impressive levels of grade 8 could take many years – but is that a problem? Why not spend years learning something new? The fun is in the realising that there is a lot to be learned, rather than reaching specific targets (although if you do, congratulations!). Learning the piano will give you insights into music you never knew existed, and, as well as giving you a new talent, will also open up a brand new world.
For piano tutors in both Kent and Sussex, visit www.musicteachers.co.uk to get an idea of the teachers near to you and what they specialise in.
Playing the guitar is a freeing experience – it’s portable music that you can enjoy at home, on holiday, on the beach, round a campfire… If you’ve got your guitar with you, you can have music too. The great thing about the guitar is that after just one or two lessons you will know enough – whatever your age – to be able to play a few short songs, and perhaps even work out some of your own. Guitar is also a great way to socialise and meet other people, whether you choose to learn in a group environment or you find a local crowd to jam with.
To try guitar in Kent, visit www.guitarlessons1st.co.uk. In Sussex why not visit the Sussex Academy of Music (www.sussexmusic.com)? There are also a number of free-to-join guitar groups who meet regularly in both Kent and Sussex, such as The Farningham Guitar Club near Eynsford (www.farninghamguitarclub.co.uk) and the West Sussex Guitar Club in Bognor Regis (www.westsussexguitar.org).
Some people have a natural aptitude for art, and for those people, picking up a paintbrush and getting something beautiful down on canvas will be easier than for others, but that doesn’t mean only the naturally talented should ever paint. If you are keen to create art then lessons will help, and age won’t come into it. Dabbling at home is fun, and perfectly fine, but if you join in with lessons you will learn how to mix paints, how to use light to your advantage, what paints to use for which effects, and you will meet likeminded people who love art as much as you do.
Kent and Sussex artists are keen to pass on their knowledge. Try Kent’s www.swanart.co.uk or Sussex’s www.skyblueartclasses.co.uk for watercolour, and if you prefer oil painting there is www.pennybearman.co.uk in Kent, and www.paulandterri.co.uk in Sussex.
Knitting is becoming increasingly popular amongst all age groups from the tiniest of children (using specially adapted needles) to the older generation. It’s a great way to unwind (pardon the woolly pun) and it can be done anywhere – even on holiday. And getting to grips with the basics usually takes no more than a handful of minutes – once you know how to cast on, knit rows, and cast off again, you can get started. Unfortunately, knowing only those aspects of how to knit will mean you can make scarves, squares for a patchwork blanket, and not a lot else, so it’s important to be able to understand knitting patterns and the different ways to use wool to create beautiful creations. That’s where lessons or meeting in a group will help immensely, until you’re ready to go it alone should you want to. Of course, socialising over a cup of tea and a chat whilst you’re knitting is always something to enjoy!
Calligraphy, the art of decorative handwriting, is a beautiful thing. So it’s no wonder that many people wish they could do it; it looks impressive, makes even the simplest of notes look attractive, and is a skill that can be learned quickly. How quickly? Some say, with a lot of practise and dedication, it can be mastered within a week. But there’s no rush – even if it takes you longer than that, enjoy the process and once you do know how to do it with ease you can show off your new-found skill as much as you like!
Calligraphy courses in Kent and Sussex include The Calligraphy Studio in Sandwich (www.calligraphystudio.org), Sun In The Wood in Sittingbourne (www.suninthewoodcraftdays.co.uk), Alphabition in Nutley (www.alphabition.co.uk) and Ewan Clayton Calligraphy in Brighton (www.ewanclayton.co.uk).
Flower arranging is a beautiful hobby to have; with it you not only brighten up your own world, but that of many others too. Plus it can become a great home-based business if you want it to. You are never too old to study floristry, and once you understand the basics of colour and design, which should take just a few lessons, and most of which you will probably already know from other avenues in your life, then you can go ahead and make the most wonderful floral displays. Fill your house with colour, and make stunning gifts for friends and family members too.
Many colleges and universities offer part-time floristry and flower arranging courses, and so do Kent Adult Education, Aspire Sussex, and East Sussex Adult Education. There are also many courses run by industry experts, including The Flower School in Gravesend (www.flowersgravesend.co.uk/flower-school.htm) and The Sussex Flower School in East Hoathly (www.thesussexflowerschool.co.uk).
Just like any instrument, the voice needs tuning and practise in order to be at its best. And although the voice does change over time, there is no upper age limit on having singing lessons and turning a ‘nice’ voice into a magnificent one. Singing lessons are said to be good for the health too because the action of singing is an aerobic one, giving you a good workout as you get the notes. And that even works when you are sitting down, which is why people often feel exhausted after a good sing along. Singing has psychological benefits too and reduces stress. Since it’s never too late to get fit and healthy, it can never be too late to learn how to sing. As for how long learning to sing might take, it depends on what level you want to get to. Learning to sing in tune and understand music will take weeks. Learning to sing opera and perfect the operatic style will take years.
There are many singing teachers within Kent and Sussex, including Pete Moody in Medway and Maidstone (www.petemoody.co.uk), All Music in Whitstable (www.allmusicwhitstable.com/singing), Jo Cordell in Crowborough (www.jcvocals.co.uk/singing-lessons) and Lucy Mair in Hove (www.lucymair.com).
Many people express a wish to learn a language – anything from French to Japanese or even Latin – and wonder if, had they tried harder in their school days, they might have been fluent by now. Don’t worry though; learning a language doesn’t depend on age but on the want to learn, so when the feeling that learning a language might be a good idea comes upon you, act on it. Choosing the language to learn is possibly the hardest part, and it should be remembered that languages that involve a different alphabet such as Russian or Mandarin for example do present more challenges than German or Spanish.
It is probably wise to pick a language that will help you – perhaps somewhere you enjoy going on holiday, or somewhere you’re planning on visiting in the future. Maybe you have your family originally hails from a different country, and you like the idea of learning the language. Whatever your reason, once you have chosen the language you want to learn, stick with it. That’s the key; don’t stop. It will take around six months of hard work to really get the idea of whichever language you’ve chosen, so stay dedicated and it won’t be long before you have a good working knowledge of a brand new language.
There are language centres based in colleges and school all over Kent and Sussex, some offering one on one tutorage and others working in a larger group setting. You’ll probably know what works best for you. Some examples of classes are Spangles (teaching Spanish to adults) in Maidstone (www.spangles.cc), Gaétane Mirol in Meopham (www.frenchlessonsinkent.com), and Aspire Sussex Adult Education (www.aspiresussex.org.uk).