Is learning a musical instrument worth it? Should it be considered a necessity? Is it something that should be encouraged? You don’t get smarter, you don’t get fitter, and it doesn’t make you healthier… So what's the point of learning how to play an instrument?
My musical journey may be a lens through which to examine and explore this question. I started learning the piano when I was four years old, and the violin when I was ten. From my point of view, learning an instrument isn’t just about performance and certainly isn’t about future employment opportunities. Music gives you a feeling that nothing can compare with.
It is my favourite thing to do in my alone time.
There is a part in a piano piece that I am currently playing that has soft, quiet trills in the left hand, with high, ringing melodies in the right hand. Everything about the melody is soft and slow and, when playing it, I feel like I am floating on a blanket of clouds. As the piece progresses, there is a rise in the dynamics, where the music becomes louder and where I have to engage my whole body in order to produce the sound that is needed. Naturally, it made me feel powerful and angry, and I transferred all that energy into my playing. Music really brings out my imagination and creativity.
Enjoying music takes time though. Practising the piano was a chore to me about a year ago, but as I started to get better, I enjoyed music more, and the expressions came more naturally to me. It was definitely worth being patient. Sometimes; however, I still find the repetitive nature of the practice a little on the boring side. But, I know that if I don’t quit and continue refining my skills, one day I will feel the singing vibratos inside me and that my violin playing will have allowed me to express or enjoy a feeling that I was unable to before.
Most importantly, learning music to me is like communicating with the composers of the piece and reading their diary, written in a language of simple black dots and lines. It is a means through which I can understand their life more and empathise with them as people. You will have a new friend, and it could be Beethoven, Bach or Mozart! Learning music has helped me recognise beauty so that I now experience more love, more compassion, more gentleness and, in short, more life.