“It’s easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself.”
– Johann Sebastian Bach
As alluring as this sounds, one can only imagine what amount of patience, practice and perseverance one needs to simply touch the heights of the great composer Bach. To put it the right way, it is actually NOT that easy to touch the right key or to pluck the right string at the right moment. But well, it is definitely worth a try.
Music is a universal language. You will hardly find a soul who does not appreciate music, in whichever form he or she pleases. Those who do not, in my opinion, lack a certain empathy towards life itself. I have been associated with music since a tender age, something that is often deemed to be mandatory for a Bengali household. I trained in Indian classical music and specialised in Rabindrasangeet, the quintessential genre that pervades the culture and spirit of every Bengali on the face of the earth. And as I grew up, I realised how fortunate I was to have been exposed to this, the very seed of my love for music that gave rise to a whole new world of appreciation for music in general.
Throughout the years, I have played an Indian instrument called the harmonium, something that acquainted me from a very early age with the nuances of melody, pitch and rhythm. Funny thing though, I have not been in touch with it since the last six years, but I still manage to play flawlessly when I get hold of it as I travel home. I guess it is the same with whatever instrument you devote your time and love to. So why spend time and effort on acquiring the skills of playing a musical instrument? The reasons are quite straightforward.
- For the simple joy of it: Playing an instrument is a whole new hobby in itself, a way to break away from your mundane activities – work, studies and otherwise.
- Boosts confidence: This applies to any kind of skill in general – whether you learn a new language, or play a sport, or play an instrument, it boosts your confidence magically, which helps you in every other aspect of your life. Try to learn something new, and notice the change in your work performance as you excel in the new skill you have taken up. It’s amazing !
- Improves memory: Since playing an instrument is no joke, it requires a good amount of brain power. If this sounds intimidating to you, always remember that anyone can learn to make music, irrespective of their previous knowledge or even age. Depending on their learning abilities and cognitive power, the time taken to learn may vary, but in general, sticking to the goal and hence the agenda benefits just about anyone. In fact, as you compel yourself to remember the technicalities of music – the terms, the chords, the process of reading the tableau (which is difficult at first but then gets surprisingly enjoyable), you mould your brain to remember things better even at other domains in your day-to-day life. In the process, you get better at observing details, and remembering your grocery list by heart, for example.
- Improves concentration: To me it seems to the most obvious reason of all. As I browse through my beginners lessons for guitar, I realise that two weeks ago the very first chord changes had seemed unapproachable to me. Remember the finger positions and then switch between two different chords? That was terrifying ! But then over the last weeks till today, I have been able to successfully perform upto eleven chord changes, some going over sixty changes per minute. Am I a genius? Absolutely not ! I just focused my attention totally to where I was changing my finger positions, forcing myself to remember each time how each chord looks like, and voila ! After few times, my fingers were doing it by themselves. Imagine implementing this level of concentration in everything you do. Will not things start happening effortlessly?
- Enhances creativity: This might come at a later stage of learning, where you possibly make little improvisations in existing music, or create something of your own. But if you survive up to that stage, and you finally do manage to make your own creation, what else can be more ecstatic?
There are of course a myriad of other, not-so-straightforward reasons to develop this skill. But those are perhaps better explored as one takes on this journey. In a nutshell, music is meant to make you feel good about yourself, as is every other art form that you can make a part of your life. We all listen to music, but there’s a different thrill in being able to play and create music. Choose the instrument that catches your fancy, and join a class or simply consult the Internet.
And saying that you don’t have the talent is not an excuse. If you want to, you can. It will change your life in unimaginable ways.