Learning an instrument can teach us lessons about life and ourselves. Learning these lessons will not only help us have faster and better progress in learning that specific instrument but can also give us a boost in life. Music is about the relationship between sound and silence – also the relationship of notes with each other, which can represent the relationship of an individual with him/herself and others. As well as the relationship between communities, cultures and countries.
A good understanding of music can give you the wisdom to understand the other aspects of life and almost everything, as everything is connected. “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy”, Beethoven.
Here are some life lessons that learning music teaches:
1- Patience – Learning to play any instrument is about spending a lot of time practicing, going through frustrations and ultimately making tiny improvements and progress that may not even be noticeable! Patience is still a virtue, even in the world that we are living in right now in which a lot of things are instant. Rome was not built in a day still applies. Therefore, you gradually learn to relax and give yourself time, understanding that achieving great things takes time. No matter how powerful or wealthy one may be, some things cannot be forced, accelerated or bought. On the contrary, slow and steady wins the race.
2- Passing a blind eye on mistakes – Just like life, a live performance doesn’t have a rewind button, so going back to fix the mistakes is not an option. We cannot undo or unsay anything. However, one can always learn from the mistake not only to become better at what one does but also a better person and to have a better life experience. Therefore, focusing on a mistake during a live performance can mess the notes that one is playing and potentially will play as well. The same applies to life, thinking about the mistakes that we or others have made can lead to other mistakes because then, we are not paying enough attention to now. Life is not a studio but a live version.
3- Live the moment – During a live performance, the musician needs to focus on what he/she is playing. The musician’s presence in that moment can raise the quality of that performance. A distracted or preoccupied performance may not sound very good. The more present you are, the better the outcome.
4- Hardship can lead to growth – Playing an instrument for the first time is no fairy tale. For instance, new guitar students experience sore and painful fingertips or get hand cramps (it will take some time for all that to begin to subside). Even worse, incorrect practicing can lead to serious injuries. However, overcoming this hardship can lead to the creation of beautiful pieces and songs. Thus in life, a frustrating challenge, difficult times and hardships can transfer into the exact opposite.
5- Be in tune with yourself – It is really important to tune an instrument. When playing with a band or orchestra, all the instruments should be in tune with each other. Sometimes, an individual just like an instrument performs a solo piece. At times, an individual performs a piece with the world. How do we tune ourselves? How do we tune ourselves with the world? Are we in tune at all?
6- Melody – Music has many elements but the melody is the easiest to follow and remember. A melody can create various feelings within us e.g. happiness, sorrow, nostalgia, frustration, etc. Maybe if we listen to ourselves well and long enough, we could hear the melody of our life or the chapter that we are living. Whether we notice it or not, our melody reflects in our tone of voice if nothing else. If we are filled with happiness, sadness, love, hatred … it reflects. Whether it is a positive or negative feeling or emotion, it is contagious. What is the melody of your life like?
7- Rhythm – In music, rhythm can represent many things. For instance, slow rhythm is used to convey sad or relaxed feelings while fast represents excitement, happiness or liveliness. However, when the rhythm gets too fast, it can deliver worry and discomfort. What is the rhythm of our lives? Are we trapped in a rat-race living too fast, constantly worrying and competing? Or maybe we could break free and found the sublime rhythm.
8- Goal and a roadmap – Music students have a mental picture of what they want to become. They quickly learn that they need to chunk this big goal into small pieces, so they can walk towards their goal one step at a time. Their roadmap is the etudes that they play or exercises and pieces that a teacher provides them. Sooner or later, they come to know that it is only the correct practice that makes almost perfect.
9- Practice it or lose it – We can achieve certain goals in life e.g. learn to speak a foreign language fluently or play an instrument well. However, they still need to be practiced every day – like a Karate grandmaster that practices even the basics every day. Otherwise, time can take it from us. We gradually forget the words of that foreign language or hand loses the flexibility and dexterity to play that instrument. The same applies to life. Everyday, we need to practice patience, kindness, generosity, gratitude, …
10- See the bigger picture – Before starting to play any piece, professional musicians take a holistic look at the piece, making a few analyses and decisions. Nevertheless, it does not mean that they write those analyses and decisions in a stone. Although the notes will be played one at a time, the first note has a relationship with the last note – even with the preceding silence. Sometimes in life, we can’t see the forest for the trees. We need to step back and be more insightful.
Undoubtedly, there are a lot more that learning music can teach. I have just pointed out a few in this post. Let us know what learning music has taught you in the comments.
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