Students find satisfaction, creative outlet through music lessons taken later in life
Sunday News, Lancaster, PA
May 16, 2010
By CLAUDIA W. ESBENSHADE
The old adage that you can't teach an old dog new tricks is being proven wrong by some local students.
There are many who are looking to bring out their inner musician later in life — way past the days of elementary school orchestra or high school marching band — and local music companies and instructors are benefiting from it.
Reifsnyder's Piano on Dillerville Road offers lessons to adults who may want the challenge, have always loved music or are looking for another way to express themselves. The reasons may vary, but the end result is the same, according to instructor Janet Maass Fitz.
"They come away so pleased with themselves and with such a sense of accomplishment," Fitz said. "And that's everyone — even the beginners."
The group lessons, held in the business' recital room, allow the adults to support each other and learn in groups. There are a few students that take private lessons, but Fitz has found that the lower cost of the group lessons is attractive to adults because it is something they are doing as a hobby.
"Investing a lot of money in something like this may seem foolish to some," said first-time participant Susan Condrick of Leola. "I can't justify spending hundreds on private lessons with a family to support."
The mother of two recently looked into the lessons as a way to focus on herself and to finally live the dream of gaining some sort of musical talent. Growing up in a family of musicians, 47-year-old Condrick said, was not so easy.
"My brothers and sisters all did some sort of instrument," Condrick said. "I always wanted to, but sports took up my time. Back then we had to choose and music took a back seat."
The weekly lessons have enabled Condrick to find a talent that she knew was there, but just needed to come out.
"I also find it's something that is applicable to other things in my life," Condrick said. "I find myself applying the same patience that I have at the piano to my everyday life and parenting."
"Picking up an instrument later in life is a great way to broaden one's sensibility of his or her creativity," said Matthew Allison, an instructor with Pennsylvania Academy of Music. "It can give them a new venue to express that musical creativity that can help in so many other areas of life."
Another student, Lee Shenberg, a 68-year-old retired executive, is taking the piano lessons as a way to pick up where he left off many years ago.
"I was involved in orchestra in school," Shenberg said. "But that took a back seat when I joined the work force. It's something that I have always enjoyed and admired.
"I wanted to be that person that could sit down and entertain the family with my music," Shenberg said.
Other music stores and companies offer lessons to adults, although not as many adults take advantage of them.
"We don't see nearly the amount of adults as we do children in our lessons," said Music Exchange manager Steven Senft. The Manor Shopping Center store only offers individual music lessons and Senft said that may deter any adult looking to start them as a hobby.
Like Shenberg, there are adult students who begin lessons as a way to continue what they may have abandoned in years past.
Becky Cotich, a 51-year-old Willow Street resident, had played guitar in her late teens and early 20s. Passing that love of music down to her son, Kenny, was natural and Cotich remembers picking up a guitar to teach him the chords at a very young age.
"I got the guitar out, taught him, passed it on to him and didn't pick it up again until recently," Cotich said.
Now taking lessons through a friend, Cotich is hoping to broaden her guitar knowledge and focus on herself.
"It gives me such a sense of peace when I am playing," Cotich said. "We don't take enough time for that kind of stuff in this world anymore."
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