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Playing an Instrument: Let the Music Make you Happy

Playing an Instrument: Let the Music Make you Happy

It is a well-known fact that music is humanity’s ticket to a never-ending fountain of emotions. Many have drunk its dazzling water; thus, giving us the best solution for everything life throws at us.

It is said that the only thing better than listening to music is creating it yourself. The path to discovering your inner musician is paved with a few thorns, but that doesn’t mean that the journey itself isn’t worth the trouble.

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” – Bob Marley

An extensive study carried out by Wheaton College has shown that music provides long-term benefits with an emphasis on increasing your brain productivity and sharpness. It is undeniable that music brings forth our underlying emotions (some might even say our soul) and you have all experienced it. Just think of those times when you felt goosebumps from your favorite song, or even direct empathy from a musical piece you haven’t heard before. Now imagine creating that feeling by yourself. Imagine being the one in control of the notes as if they were words.

You should also know that playing an instrument gives you a real advantage in life. The benefits are numerous, but the most important one is improving yourself as a person. Just as our body needs food and water to survive, think of music as the bread for the soul. Even if you’re not really aiming for nirvana through musical literacy, you will at least start seeing the world with a new set of eyes.

Getting started

getting into playing an instrument

    After you have decided that you are committed to learning an instrument, there are still a couple of things you need to get sorted out before actually taking the instrument in your hands. Being that you are probably an adult, first make sure that you clear up your daily schedule. Practice makes perfect and you will need to play almost every day in order to have visible progress.

    A ton of patience – Prepare yourself mentally that learning to play an instrument is not a short process. You will have many obstacles to clear and for every up in your playing, expect a down as well. Believe in yourself and be confident: music is more of a psychological challenge than a physical one.

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    Find a teacher or other teaching methods – You will be surprised how many great musicians live in your area and are ready to give lessons. Use them as much as you can, as a professional will gladly reveal all the tips and tricks to a persistent student. On the other hand, you can get online tutoring. Or if you are feeling up to it, you can use one of the many textbooks on the market to get started.

    Get all the accessories you’ll need – By accessories I mean getting a notebook (a music journal or manuscript paper), a suitable case for your instrument, and any additional equipment you might need. Brushing up on musical theory is also something you might want to consider if you are not a total beginner.

    Picking out an instrument

    All that is left is to pick the instrument you will use to create music. Reasons for picking an instrument are numerous, but let’s narrow down your search by implementing certain search factors that are common for most beginners.

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      The music you like

      More often than not, people want to learn to play an instrument in order to recreate their favorite music. Choosing an instrument this way can be very helpful, because you will have more inspiration and are far less likely to give up before you can jam along with your preferred band.

      However, choosing an instrument because of a single band can be misleading. After a few years, your taste in music might change, and you might find yourself unable to play a particular tune on your instrument. Therefore, I recommend choosing a versatile instrument, one that can carry out multiple genres.     

      Finding a teacher

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      I have already emphasized the importance of having a teacher and the more “exotic” your instrument, the more difficult it becomes to find a teacher in your neighborhood. Considering the speed of modern lifestyle, the last thing you’d like is to travel for hours every day only to have that didjeridu class.

      The number of available teachers refers to another factor that shouldn’t become one of your primary reasons, but it definitely makes a difference.

      The popularity of an instrument

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        Even though you shouldn’t be led by the popularity of an instrument, it comes as natural that there are certain advantages in picking a popular instrument. First, it is easy to buy one along with any additional equipment; and second, the number of people you can play with is simply larger with a violin than with a specially made diatonic accordion.

        Singing and playing at the same time 

        Having in mind that you are a true music aficionado, you will probably want to make the most out of your music-playing experience. Letting your voice be heard comes as a logical continuation. Furthermore, having the option of being able to sing while playing means that you will be able to mimic popular songs and famous bands entirely.

        With everything in mind for the goal of helping a beginner choose the instrument that will help to express their creativity, I’ve narrowed down my recommendation to two instruments.

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        Digital Pianos and Guitars – these two instruments fit perfectly inside every parameter I mentioned earlier. Among the most popular and easily recognizable instruments in the world, digital pianos and guitars offer a colorful array of possible music with easy accessibility.

        Perfect for feature solo artists as well those looking forward to playing in a band, digital pianos and guitars can lead, support, or even solely carry an entire musical piece.

        Digital Pianos

        playing an instrument - digital piano

          Digital pianos basically mimic the sound of an acoustic piano with the distinction that a digital piano can be carried around, whereas acoustic pianos move around only in cartoons. Digital pianos are actually recommended for learning, as they come with features specially made to suit a beginner. Of course, everything you learn by practicing with a digital piano is applicable on an acoustic piano. Digital pianos basically use sampled piano sounds which are amplified through a loudspeaker.

          In fact, digital pianos have several advantages over their acoustic counterparts. Much smaller and lighter, digital pianos are far less expensive. With digital pianos, you have the option of adjusting the volume, and some digital pianos even have the option of playing different sounds (not just the piano) such as the pipe organ and harpsichord.

          Digital pianos do not require tuning and are simply perfect as a stable musical platform that you can use wherever and whenever you wish.

          Guitars

          playing an instrument - guitar

            As you all probably know, a guitar is a string instrument usually with six strings and, in a way, represents a modern continuation of one of the oldest instruments. Over the years, guitars have become an epitome of coolness and have made their way into almost every genre of music.

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            There are several basic types of guitars for you to choose from:

            Acoustic Guitars

            Acoustic guitars create their sound without any means of amplification (except the body of the guitar). They have a rich sound and are mainly reserved for small venues. There are numerous types of acoustic guitars with the main differences being the tonal qualities.

            Acoustic-Electric Guitars

            Acoustic-electric guitars are basically acoustic guitars that have a plug for an amplifier or a recording device. Unamplified, they are similar to acoustic guitars. But once plugged in, acoustic-electric guitars make a distinctive sound right between an electric and an acoustic guitar.

            Electric Guitars

            Electric guitars, as their name suggests, are designed to be played with an amplifier. Unamplified, electric guitars produce a very shy sound. Once jacked-up, a skilled artist can make it cry or weep, as Mark Knopfler once famously put it.

            Bass Guitars

            Bass guitars do not have the flashy, slick popularity of their electric cousins; nevertheless, they create a unique sound in music. Originally made to be a part of the rhythm section of a band, bass guitars are stable and reliable. In the hands of a master, bass guitars can perform truly breathtaking musical phrases.

            The final choice is yours

            The last task for you is to embark on the beautiful journey of exploring the seas of music. Remember, there are no standard paths, no shortcuts, and no wrong turns. Keep a pace that best suits your preferences and try your best to make the music that makes you happy and satisfied.

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            Dejan Kvrgic

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            How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

            How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

            Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

            Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

            I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

            You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

            Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

            When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

            I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

            Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

            Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

            Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

            1. The Inner Critic

            This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

            • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
            • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
            • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
            • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

            He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

            Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

            2. The Worrier

            This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

            He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

            Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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            3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

            He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

            He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

            He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

            4. The Sleep Depriver

            This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

            His motivation can be:

            • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
            • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
            • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
            • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

            How can you control these squatters?

            How to Master Your Mind

            You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

            Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

            There are two ways to control your thoughts:

            • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
            • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

            This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

            The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

            Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

            For the Inner Critic

            When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

            You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

            For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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            You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

            “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

            If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

            • He riles up the Worrier.
            • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
            • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
            • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
            • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

            Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

            Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

            For the Worrier

            Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

            Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

            You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

            • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
            • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
            • Muscles tense

            Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

            If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

            Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

            “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

            Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

            If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

            Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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            Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

            For example:

            If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

            “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

            Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

            “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

            Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

            For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

            Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

            The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

            • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
            • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
            • Muscles tension

            I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

            Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

            Breathe in through your nose:

            • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
            • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
            • Focus on your belly rising.

            Breathe out through your nose:

            • Feel your lungs emptying.
            • Focus on your belly falling.
            • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

            Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

            Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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            One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

            Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

            For the Sleep Depriver

            (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

            I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

            Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

            1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
            2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

            When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

            From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

            For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

            If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

            You can also use this technique any time you want to:

            • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
            • Shut down your thinking.
            • Calm your feelings.
            • Simply focus on the present moment. 

            Becoming the Master of Your Mind

            Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

            You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

            Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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