Benefits of learning a musical instrument

“Hey, you sure look like you are having a good time playing that guitar!”

Actually, I’m having a great time. Playing music is some of the most fun I have. It’s been a real blessing to be able to make music myself and to share it with others. It’s something that I’m truly grateful for.

Music-making is a wonderful pastime for anyone and everyone, from young to old and extremely serious endeavor to hobbyist. We believe that everyone should play. At least a little something.

Unlike sports, music training is something that will last a whole lifetime. There is no season to making music, it’s low impact and high reward.

Fun – Playing music is just plain fun. Get together with your friends and family and have an ol’ time hootenanny, jam the blues or just sing some songs. It’s also a great way to spend some time by yourself. You are never truly alone when you have your instrument with you. Mine is a trusted friend and part-time psychiatrist.

Applause – People like music. And it’s in nearly everyone’s audience training manual that you are expected to applaud after a performance. People want to show their appreciation for the gift of music that you have given them. They want to acknowledge your talent or at the very least, you hard work. So they clap! It’s a nice feeling to get the praise of even one other human being. Imagine a whole room full of happy audience all applauding for you!

Feeling of Accomplishment – Playing music isn’t easy. If it were I suppose everyone would be doing it. It does take time, focus and plain practice to do it. It’s really a case of getting out of it what you put into it. But it’s an amazing thing to be able to produce real music on an instrument. The sense of pride and accomplishment that goes along with even being able to play a simple piece is a very real thing. We all want to feel accomplished. We all want to be liked and even applauded. When you are doing something in music you are really doing something special. The feelings that a sense of accomplishment bring after a completed task will inspire and propel you to new heights.

Friends – Music has given me friendship. Now, I’m pretty serious about music, it’s my career and a major part of my life. Most of my friends play. Almost all of the people I work with play. I teach music so my students obviously play. Growing up, the memories that we made by making music together bound us together. The experiences you have playing music with and for others create lifelong friendships and memories you’ve had together. Music has forged some of my very best relationships. I wouldn’t have met my wife if it weren’t for music. Music brings people together.

Join a Gang – I’ve got to admit, one of the biggest reasons I initially wanted to learn to play was that so I could be part of a gang. A crew. I wanted to belong to an elite squad of highly trained specialists. Mostly, I just wanted to belong. Being a part of an orchestra, choir, marching band, string quartet or jazz big band makes you part of something larger than yourself. You are theirs and they are part of your team. And with team work anything is possible.

Travel – Music has taken me everywhere. Starting from my earliest days traveling with the school band to different towns to march in parades or be in competitions, music puts you on the road. It’s exciting to see new places and meet new people, play for new audiences. People treat you exceptionally well when you are a visiting musician to their hometown. For the most part, they are on their best behavior and they treat you like a real VIP, a real star. Being on the road with bands at home and overseas is hard work, it’s exhausting but it’s also a lot of fun. It’s extra time to be with the musicians. We have a lot of laughs and eat a lot of new foods (good and bad for you). The miles on the road require safety first but there is a big world out there. Music can take you anywhere.

Dress Up – Most musical performances will require a few “glad rags”, appropriate attire for your style of music. This might mean a tuxedo but at the very least we should look clean, professional and generally well kept. Some great advice I got a long time ago was that “you should always be better dressed than your audience”. Music performance offers us and opportunity to spruce up a little bit. Show the people that we are serious enough to put on a clean shirt, some new shoes and do our best on every level. It’s fun to play Dress up too. And it’s just fun to play.

Jason Riley

I’m a hustling musician and family man. I love to learn, play, share and encourage others in music. We’ve got some cool bands (including Soca Jukebox) and I am the director of the St. Joseph Arts Academy. This is my Blog!