Things worth learning: playing a musical instrument



What

“A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make musical sounds.” (Wikipedia) I am thinking of the instruments people commonly learn to play when they are young, such as the piano or the guitar.

Why

Playing a musical instrument is enjoyable in itself – the act of creating something, however modest. It also gives you a deeper appreciation for others’ playing, especially at the level of professionals.

How

The best way to learn to play an instrument is by taking lessons from an expert. When you try to teach yourself it’s very easy to pick up bad habits. A teacher can correct you early enough that the bad habits don’t become ingrained by reinforcement.

From there it’s a matter of practicing. My routine doesn’t permit me to spend hours at it, but I’ve been practicing a little every day.

When

I grew up in a household where no one played a musical instrument. My father had been compelled to take piano lessons as a child, and disliked them. He wasn’t going to do the same thing with his children.

In sixth grade I joined the school band. For a couple of years I played the trombone, badly. I didn’t take the time to practice. I preferred reading and my computer. In retrospect I wish I had put more effort into other areas of my life, like playing music.

I always wanted to learn to play the piano. It wasn’t a very practical goal as long as I was moving frequently. I recently purchased a digital piano to learn with, and to help my children learn if they want to.

I’ve been taking piano lessons from a local music studio. “Recreational Piano for Adults”. It’s clear why people usually learn to play an instrument when you’re young. Much of it is about muscle memory. At age 40 I’ve been typing for the better part of three decades. My hands want to move in certain ways. Playing the piano has forced me to learn other ways, which has been challenging.