CGC 019 : Learning Classical Guitar at an Older Age with Janet Agostino

//CGC 019 : Learning Classical Guitar at an Older Age with Janet Agostino

CGC 019 : Learning Classical Guitar at an Older Age with Janet Agostino

Janet Agostino has a deep knowledge of education from a variety of perspectives and in our conversation I asked Janet to discuss some of the issues that come up when learning classical guitar later in life. It is a topic that is important to many members and readers of the site and I have actually addressed the issue in a previous article.

Janet talks about specific goals that we can set, structuring lessons, and touches on some examples of how she works with her own students that come to music later in life. I learned a lot from this conversation and I hope you get inspired from this podcast whether you are a student, teacher, or someone who wants to know what an experienced and dedicated educator sounds like.


Duo Agostino Website

Sydney Classical Guitar Summer School

Sydney Guitar Trio

2016-01-11T02:33:26+00:009 Comments


  1. Linda Tsardakas January 13, 2016 at 10:22 am - Reply

    Great podcast!

  2. Chris January 14, 2016 at 6:09 am - Reply

    SImon, thank you for this interview; At the age of 68 I am grateful for any insights I can acquire into CG playing. All of my adult life I have worked to goals, schedules and performance reviews but now in my later years I have a different approach. My goals are only very general in that (a) I have developed a rough grading system for solo pieces and select new tunes to tackel from the somewhat more advanced range, and (b) I hold myself to 30 minutes of practice/playing every day. The result of this, for me, is that I don’t feel driven but can fully enjoy the process of playing and advancing. But, as Janet says, older students such as myself all have very different ways of approaching skill acquisition. Thanks again for your site and the work you put into it.

  3. James Huckson January 16, 2016 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Simon. An excellent podcast! I could relate to many of those points raised. Also, I am hoping to attend the Sydney Summer School next year.

  4. Tim Minelli January 16, 2016 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    Excellent podcast and link to Simon’s earlier notes about learning classical guitar at an “older” age. Big cheers to older folks becoming students of the classical guitar. Even decades before, I was always inspired by older individuals taking up new challenges. Know that your efforts may be a source of inspiration to both the older and younger people in your life.

    I think another big metal challenge for us older folks is to simply know you’re going to stink at something for a while and work through it. An unfamiliar place for people that either are in or have had successful careers, raised children, etc. My 5 year old has no shyness in banging on the guitar infront of almost anyone that sets foot in our living room. I’m definitely not that way.

    One a more basic level, it’s always finding time in a busy schedule for the music, as people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond are often running all day. It took me some time to realize I practice best in the early mornings and can get a clear, uninterrupted block of time then. I also keep guitars handy–I have my inexpensive “sacrificial” one out, unprotected, in our living room set amid the chaos. I can grab it anytime and work through some scales or a Giuliani study. Curious if anyone else has tips here–what works best for you in getting the practice done.

    Aside from all that, my biggest underlying motivations are to simply have real live music in my house and also offer a subtle lesson to my young daughter about learning through engaged, dedicated, consistent practice. Also, check out “Guitar Zero” by Gary Marcus. I believe it was published in 2012 and explores his challenges in learning the guitar (steel string) at an older age. Best.

  5. chad henry January 16, 2016 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    Hi, I’m interested in ordering a few of the AMEB classical guitar books, but their website restricts mail order to Australia. Any hints on how to acquire these books in the U.S.

  6. Dremcoman January 17, 2016 at 5:36 am - Reply

    I also listened to the lady talk about older students. I am 71, and have been working on the guitar for a few years, the last 1 1/2 on Classical. Progress does seem to be slow, particularly if I stick with one piece until content with it.

    Part of the problem is that during University, and the working career, I divided the time into many subjects, often only getting a basic idea before moving on to other things. Now, focussing on a single piece until content, the progress is slow, but nonetheless, there is progress. While I often feel inadequate, especially when watching more competent players, I realize that I do actually know a fair bit, and do have some competence.

  7. John Van Dyck January 17, 2016 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    Listened to this amazing interview on the way home from the Taranaki Classical guitar summer school which Simon mentioned in the interview.
    It was an amazing experience and ev everything Janet said was experienced and reinforced to an amazing degree. New friends, a spirit of support and encouragement, daily discussions, concerts and masterclasses with world famous classical guitarist, private lessons (mine with Owen Moriarty of the NZ Classical guitar quartet) and a new experience for me of ensemble and orchestra playing in which “the sum was truly greater than the individual parts” as Janet said. I would encourage anyone to attend. It nurtured at your own level as well as inspiring and challenging and developing musicianship in ways I could not really have anticipated but now understand.
    Thx Simon for the mention in the podcast and for including the NZ school in your comments. I am going again in 2 years.

  8. Janet Agostino January 23, 2016 at 6:47 am - Reply

    Message for Chad:
    try one of our music retailers in Sydney such as Zephyr Music to see if they can ship AMEB books to the US. Good luck, these books are great!
    [email protected]

  9. keith morris October 27, 2017 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    Simon, what a brilliant podcast. I was able to relate to much of what was talked about, I have recently joined your course for first level students even though my 70th birthday comes up in January. Hearing Janet’s experiences in teaching reminded me of my own. I came to education later in life and eventually earned a degree in Ecology and went on 15 years ago to gain a Science Masters degree in Habit creation & management. I went on to teach people from all ages from nursery school up to University level. So much of Janet’s ideas struck a chord (no pun intended).
    What the podcast helped me with was to think about my goals. I have got so much out of playing with the duets you provide, and I hope that I can improve my site reading in order to play with others if this becomes possible. However I am aware not give myself too much stress and simply wish to enjoy playing a lovely instrument which the classical guitar is.

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