Music is a universal language. No matter what culture you experience, music is a common ground that can express many emotions. When I was growing up, I was fortunate to have family that was heavily involved in music. At the age of nine, I was learning to play the guitar, singing my heart out, and taking drum lessons (I wanted to be the next Dave Grohl). As I entered the young adult stage of my life, I further appreciated my love and skills for music. Many people have asked me how I can play certain instruments or make a chord sound a certain way on the guitar. These skills did not come overnight.
But as I get asked more and more questions about playing instruments, the more I value that dedication and hard work I put in as a child.
I’ve also noticed certain benefits in my life that apply to so much more than just playing an instrument. I have created a list of three reasons as to why children should get involved into the magical world of music at an early age.
As a kid I would hear this from many adults: “Learning an instrument will help you achieve better grades!” or “learning music can help enhance the left side of your brain which improves mathematical and logical reasoning.” I’m unsure of both of those points so I decided to conduct further reading and find out. The University of Southern California conducted a five-year study to see if student’s brains developed faster with musical training and/or involvement. According to the article, “the study shows music instruction speeds up the maturation of the auditory pathway in the brain and increases efficiency.” The study further examines certain instruments (i.e. the violin and vocals) to see if specific sounds affect the learning capabilities of the children. It is a very interesting article and it a short read.
When looking for a way to relieve stress from your constant studies, a hobby is always a good idea. Indulging in an instrument or learning to sing takes tremendous determination but can also take your mind of the struggles you face daily (i.e. school, social acceptance etc.). The first couple years of learning to play the guitar, I would use the instrument to escape to my own place of endless possibilities. I was so intrigued by the amount of sounds I could create that I could call my own. When I would finish playing this wave of relaxation and euphoria would takeover and I would more determined to take on new tasks during the day. This doesn’t even have to apply to just music. Reading, exercise, and learning a new skill such as construction are extremely effective ways to relieve stress and calm yourself when you feel anxious.
I was 13 when I performed live for the first time. My music teacher convinced me to enter the school talent show so I decided to sing and play the guitar in front of all my peers. The nerves took over my body as my hands were shaking minutes before I was set to go on stage. I’ve performed in front of an audience with a group before but being on your own is like having a microscope on you with 500 people looking at you. It was a Neil Young song (if you don’t know him, I suggest you get on that immediately) that I had performed. As soon as I was finished the song, relaxation and euphoria hit me again almost as if a massive weight was lifted off my shoulder. I broke through this barrier I had created in my own mind. As I got older, I played more and more places, getting in front of smaller and larger crowds. My public speaking skills enhanced dramatically which has helped in my professional career as well as my social endeavors. Communicating with others and in front of large groups is almost inevitable in life. Playing music to an audience enhanced my social skills without me even noticing. I’ve taken on more roles in my life as a public speaker all because of the concerts and settings I have performed.
Learning an instrument is a long and difficult journey but worth the reward. Not only is it an impressive skill to add to your repertoire but it enhances other skills that you will use on a daily basis throughout your life. So dust off that old piano or pick up that old guitar in the basement and start practicing because we need more bands!