All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
We have all heard this quote before, and know that to have a well-rounded persona we should have a wide variety of skills and activities we enjoy.
When learning an instrument or difficult piece of music, often we can get stumped at times. Logically we know what to do in order to get the right notes out at the right time, but for some reason it just doesn’t work as planned.
When this happens, the music teacher and the student need to think laterally to get around the problem. Thinking creatively to come up with new solutions such as a different practise technique, or a different way of interpreting the music, is essential to progress.
This skill of lateral thinking is so useful in everyday life. Lateral thinkers are better problem solvers.
Reading music is like reading another language, and the technique involved in playing an instrument requires the same mindset as learning any other skill. When that is combined with conveying emotion and expression through music-making, we get the wonderful benefit of both left and right hemispheres of the brain working together.
The idea we are using our brains to a great capacity like this whilst doing just one activity is quite extraordinary.
To play a musical instrument, your left and right hands need to operate independently. If you play a wind instrument, you also need to coordinate breathing, air flow and articulation. If you play piano, organ or drumkit, your feet also need to work independently.
The fine motor skills learned while playing an instrument can easily transfer to other aspects of your life, for example fast touch typing, playing sport, and multitasking in the workplace.
Learning a musical instrument can be difficult at times. We need to put in time and effort into learning how to read the music, how to technically play the instrument, and how to put it all together so it actually sounds good.
In order to sound good, you need to practice regularly and consistently. Ten minutes a day is enough to improve, but we still need the drive and determination to continue when things get difficult.
Once we learn drive and determination, and how to stick to something, this skill stays with us for life. We can easily use this skill in furthering our career, toughing out hard situations in life, and even in taking up a sport and learning to become better at that.
We all need balance in our lives to create a sense of happiness and feel better about ourselves. If we are intently focused on work and career then we lose this balance. By learning or even listening to music, we engage our creativity, which puts us in a state of flow. Being in a state of flow is similar to meditation, in that it relaxes us, increases happiness, and of course, improves our well-being.
These are only five points on how learning a musical instrument makes us a well-rounded person, and already we can see just what a big difference these points can make in our every-day life.
You are never too old to take up a musical instrument. I have taught people well into their 60’s and they all do well. If there was ever an instrument you wished you could play, now is a great time to learn!
Featured photo credit: Tekke / Und damals im Ferienlager .... via flickr.com
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