The Benefits of Learning Music
There are many benefits of learning to play an instrument - there are simple reasons, such as for personal enjoyment, discipline, and to be able to perform well in front of others. However, the benefits of learning how to play a musical instrument extend even further than these commonly known reasons for playing.
1. Aural, visual and tactile perception is refined through studying music, which involves three physical senses - hearing, seeing and touching. Each of these senses are refined through learning to play an instrument because the information received by our ear, eyes and sense of touch needs to be analysed and organised into meaningful signals, then acted upon. To be successful in learning an instrument, perception in the three senses mentioned must be precise and detailed. When a score is placed in front of a musician, the musician must not only see the notes and markings on the page, but must also be able to hear how it should sound in their mind so that they can achieve it in reality through the intricate coordination of physical movements. The musician’s eye must be able to scan the smallest detail, while the mind needs to be aware of whole sections for practice to be effective and for performance to be excellent. Therefore, sensory awareness and tactile sensitivity is increased through being able to play an instrument well.
2. Another benefit is that one will acquire the ability to think conceptually. The characteristics of sound, such as pitch, duration, tone colour and dynamics, have no meaning by themselves. The musician’s job is to be able to create meaning out of the composer’s score markings, which involves having to constantly listen to and compare each sound produced with the next. Knowledge of and the ability to perceive structures and parts within a whole are gained when studying a piece of music. Such skills developed by music study can be transferred to other areas. This is why there are traditional associations between music, mathematics, philosophy and science. All these academic categories demand a high degree of abstract thinking.
3. A third benefit is that one will be able to program and develop accurate physical responses. Sometimes our perception overrides our ability to respond physically in a disciplined way. Through studying a musical instrument, musicians learn practice techniques that will make the physical response more reliable. The techniques and knowledge used in the practice of an instrument, such as repetition, memorisation, rhythmic modification, and practising in sections, can be transferred to other learning contexts that require such techniques.
4. Studying and playing music allows one to express emotions in sound, while respecting the composer's score markings. This requires a balance between attention to detail and sticking to the score, and the ability to go beyond the score to express the music as the performer hears it. The understanding of musical styles throughout the centuries and knowledge of composers, combined with the desire to communicate the music to a modern audience effectively is learned in the piano lesson.
5. A musician learns to cope with the preparation, disappointment and triumph of performance. Every musician who has gone through exams and competitions knows that the practice room and stage/exam room can feel like a universe apart. Passages that are played with relative confidence at home suddenly become unstable when played in front of an audience. Sometimes, memory lapses happen in the places where they are least expected. However, there are times when the pressure of an audience and the excitement of displaying the hard work of practising a piece of wonderful music can benefit the musician, and the adrenaline rush causes them to play with more expression or with more energy than what they have been doing before. This new found inspiration can be taken to the practise room and recreated. Even if the performance doesn't go as well as planned, the musician has the opportunity to learn from mistakes and do better the next time. This is a skill that has obvious benefits outside the music lesson.
When all these benefits are combined, it makes up a powerful package that is unmatched by any other academic discipline. The benefits of learning to play a musical instrument are immeasurable, and benefits apply to every musician, not just the prodigy or the professional. The benefits are noticeable from the first lesson, continue through every musical experience in the student’s life, and cross over into other life experiences.
Here is a link to another article that talks about the benefits of piano playing:
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