Today, we welcome QUAVER once again for a note on the seemingly endless benefits of Music in his own life!
As I have got a little older (I asked a group of Kindergarten kids how old they thought I was and one of them said I was in my 80’s – depressing!), I have realized the wider benefits of playing an instrument at a fairly high level.
Yes, I did shut myself away for hours on end, and of course in the UK everyone lives in houses that are connected at least on one side to another house, so my neighbors were saints! In fact, every so often I was urged by my Mom to knock on Mrs. Jeffries’ door and say, “Thanks for putting up with the noise,” then proceeded to go home and practice for another 8 hours.
Now I do more things than just play piano all day, but all this music in my life has me wondering:
How has all that music learning helped me?
Here are just a FEW of the many benefits in my life:
- Self discipline – I often was given pieces by my teacher I didn’t initially like (a musical version of eating sprouts). However, the discipline of practicing them has helped me in later life when I am asked to do or create things that I don’t enjoy.
- Memory – In one recital I memorized 120 pages of music! This develops the memory part of the brain and is useful in every area of life, for remembering names, dates, tasks, my age, my name, my address and telephone number! Hang on, where are my glasses?
- Performing – Many of us in later life have to present, perform, speak, or teach, and some of us get amazingly nervous. It can lead to sweating, rashes, sleepless night and calls to Dr. Phil.
Music is an amazing way of overcoming nerves and gaining performance confidence.
- Teamwork – Music is often performed with others and unlike sports there are NO winners. You cannot be 6 -3 in String Quartet wins. There may not be winners, but the players are definitely part of a team!! This notion is powerful. We all play a part and without us the piece would not be as good, BUT we are not the first or the last, we are an equal part. (Unless of course one happens to be in an ensemble with the next George Gershwin in which case, that’s plain bad luck!)
- Emotional control and expression – Music performance requires us to express a certain emotion with control as the piece requires it. Even beginners’ pieces require the player to play with a certain attitude, and as we get more advanced the emotional investment in each piece becomes even more intense. Listen for example to the four movements of Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata:
- The first movement requires a dark foreboding
- The second requires an excited enthusiasm
- The third, a tender intimacy
- And the last, a delicate fragility
This idea of controlling our feelings and expressing our feelings within a structure is great training for all kinds of human relationships.
- Attention to detail – playing a piece of Chopin is a VERY complex task requiring adherence to an extremely complicated score. Most jobs require attention to detail and music is amazing training for that!
So, we all want little Mildred to grow up to be well-balanced right? Not too shy, but not too hyper; friendly, but not overly-friendly; witty, but not cheeky; healthy but not too thin; perhaps music aids development more than we think?