Whenever you see a musician perform it all looks so natural, but the reality is there’s so much more behind learning how to play. First off, you have to learn how to properly hold the instrument and if it’s a string instrument, how to hold the bow. Learning how to play in tune notes is one thing while learning how to read music is another.
When I first picked up a cello in the fifth grade I knew that I was going to learn how to play it. However, what I didn’t know was that there was so much more beyond learning how to play the cello that I’d also learn.
The thing about musicians is that they see and hear the world differently than other people. Once you learn an instrument you’re able to identify it quite easily in different songs. It’s gotten to the point where I more often than not say “hey did you know that the cello has the melody right there.”
It’s taken a while for me to realize that my attention to detail comes from learning how to read music. Every little marking on a piece of sheet music means something and correlates back to how it’s directing you to play a song. Training yourself to make note of sharp or flat signs, dynamics, accents and more keeps yourself alert and will reflect back on how closely you pay attention to details in everyday life.
There are so many challenges that come with playing an instrument even after you get the basics down. There are always new songs to learn that include new skill sets. These challenges encourage you to practice for hours on end sometimes. You experience what it’s like to truly dedicate your time and energy to something. With dedication comes discipline because if you’re not disciplined no progress is going to be made. Your dedication to your music will bring you to be dedicated in setting goals for yourself both in music and with other things such as academics or other hobbies.
I’ll admit that I didn’t always practice for hours on end and improving as a musician wasn’t always my top priority, but looking back on it I wish it had more of a priority because of the sense of accomplishment and serenity that comes with learning new songs. Not to mention how great it felt to work towards being confident in my musical abilities.
From late elementary school all the way until I graduated high school I was in orchestra. At the time that was something I took for granted. It wasn’t until not being in orchestra in college did I realize how a big part of my life was missing and how great having a scheduled time to play each week was. I haven’t stopped playing since coming to college but I definitely play less.
Never was I the best at what I did but when you go from being commited to something for over eight years and all of sudden it’s not as prominent in your life you notice it. I found myself through playing the cello and picking up other instruments over the years. How I see the world now after understanding music in a different way that those who don’t play instruments is something I wouldn’t change for the world.