Have you ever wondered how learning to play a musical instrument can affect you? So here is the thing when (I am referring to one instrument but this would apply to any instrument in different ways) you see a pianist play. Do you know what the pianist is doing in pretty much one second?
Well, in each moment, the pianist is simultaneously doing the following things:
At the level of muscle movement:
- Coordination between both hands
- Hand and eye coordination
- Foot coordination with the above
At the level of the mind:
- Reading music and translating it all at the same time
- Interpreting the rhythm and then immediately reproducing it.
- Sometimes in more complicated songs, both hands follow a different rhythmic pattern, that requires different coordination.
- And then aesthetically delivering the music.
All this is happening together, second after second, throughout a song. In fact, one study that observed the effects of playing the piano actually said it’s like fireworks going on inside a pianist’s brain.
Needless to say, learning an instrument has terrific benefits. I can start with enhanced brain functioning, children who learn music are good with languages and can communicate better, concentration, it even helps work with anxiety issues, better confidence, expression develops etc. There are endless benefits.
A lot of parents enroll their children in music lessons because they believe it will help their kids become smarter and give them an edge over the others. Unfortunately, our society is based on a quantitative idea of life and success. Our sole aim is to train people to earn a living (there is nothing wrong with that, except every other aspect of life is veiled behind that objective).
But one of the most important functions of learning music which most overlook is that music can help you cope with life. We try to learn all the skills in life to earn money, but nobody gives you a mechanism to cope with life. When the going gets tough where can you find respite. No one teaches you that. And this is where I speak from my personal experience if anything learning and being able to play an instrument does just that.
For the longest time, I have suffered from depression. (Not clinically diagnosed) And in all these years I found music as a steady companion to overcome every dark moment. It’s always been a beacon of hope. In fact, I know of many well functioning adults who have told me they have overcome severe depression because of music. A music professor once told me how he had managed to overcome thoughts of suicide because he had music. (I am not saying music is a one-stop solution, one should not overlook treatment if needed)
And that’s why often when people come and ask me why should they spend time and money enrolling their kids for music lessons, I usually tell them well it just might make your child a happier person.
Most of them don’t get it though. They feel more reassured when I use big terms like brain cognition, refined concentrative abilities and so on. The simple word ‘happy’ doesn’t satisfy anyone. But imagine if life was a backpack and you had packed things like earning a living, marriage etc. as the things to carry in your backpack. With all that you had also packed a little torch a torch that might come handy when all lights go off, that torch would surely be the skill to play an instrument.