Why learn an instrument?


Why learn an instrument? 

There are many benefits to learning to play an instrument, exercising the brain is definitely high on the list. Playing an instrument like guitar involves coordination and physical dexterity as well as learning new concepts. It can help to improve your concentration and motivation through discipline in your practice regime. There is also the feel-good factor that comes when you achieve something that maybe previously you thought you might not be able to do. Playing music with other musicians can also help us with social interaction and learning to work as a team, to make sure the overall sound of the group sounds good. Getting back to the brain musical activity uses almost every region of the brain so that we can decipher pitch, rhythm, tempo, timbre and also we need to access our memory (to remember chord shapes, chord sequences etc.) If you would like to learn more about this I would recommend ‘This Is Your Brain On Music’ by Daniel Levitin which is quite readable even though he is talking about some complex subjects.

Something which a lot of adults have said to me over the years goes along the lines of “If only I’d learnt guitar as a child, children learn how to play much easier.” If you’re using this as an excuse not to learn an instrument let me set the record straight – children have as much difficulty learning the guitar as adults. I have taught a lot of children to play guitar and while some will pick things up quickly others will struggle – just like adults do. If only this magical land  existed where every child learning guitar can immediately play perfectly when I show them something just once, my job would be so much easier.

Let’s be realistic – learning guitar (or any instrument except possibly triangle) is not easy. But then the benefits to be gained, especially in respect to keeping that brain of ours active, are most definitely worth the effort.

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