Start Learning a Musical Instrument Today
Music is a language. Instruments are its speakers. What they say is up to you. Many children start to learn an instrument at a very young age. They are ushered into music classes by their parents, practice daily based on instructions from their teacher, and excel after many months and years of adherence. If you are wishing that had happened to you, it is far from too late to learn. You can start today by learning sheet music, picking out an instrument, and practicing a song.
I have taught piano to children and adults for years. My own musical studies sprung from my own self-interest in middle school. We were placed into different music classes, and I happened to be given the keyboard. I fell in love with it and inquired with my teacher about lessons outside of class. From there, it was a wonderful journey. Despite starting later than most, I also persisted longer than many other piano pupils, and am glad I did
More than ever, the world around us encourages instant results. From same-day deliveries to streaming entire seasons of a show in one sitting, we have trained ourselves to expect things to happen right away. Music is very old-fashioned; long-term dedication is the only way to achieve results. The first step in learning this language is determining which instrument you want to use for speaking its melodic vocabulary. Borrow instruments from friends, try them out in music stores, and watch as many performers as you can to help you decide which one speaks to you.
Learning the sheet music that parlays said music is no easy task, but it is one you can start at this very moment. There are a wide array of music apps and online resources for educating yourself on sheet music. Even before you have your instrument, you can take this first step before you even finish this article. Devote at least 15 minutes a day to these apps and websites.
From there, the next step is to focus on the beauty inherent to music. Look at it not as a chore, but rather as a form of meditation. When you are playing a song, you are embracing the world’s beauty and clearing your head of negativity. Pick out a song for that instrument that you already know and love. Find something that evokes a response from you when you listen to it; whatever that piece is, make sure it is one that you find beauty in. Classical works have sheet music readily available online at various levels of difficulty, whereas pop songs will likely have to be purchased for a few dollars.
Now comes the daunting challenge of actually playing the music. When learning on your own, the ideal approach is to tackle songs in digestible chunks. How much of a song to start with depends on your own comfort and abilities. It may be as little as a few notes, as much as the entire page, or anywhere in between. Music is not a race – learning a song quickly but sacrificing accuracy and technique is not learning a song at all.
Practice that selection of notes daily, maintaining a slow speed while maintaining accuracy and proper technique. Even if that means moving at an absurdly slow tempo, accuracy and technique are always paramount. With this proper practice, you will notice steady improvement in all three categories, including speed. As you continue to practice each day and gain comfort with that section, add on another section of the song. An instructor is valuable primarily for helping you with your technique and catching oversights in accuracy. If possible, try to arrange lessons with an instructor at least once a month to monitor your progress.
As you continue your musical journey, incorporating theory studies will help you better understand the chords and structures you are encountering in the songs you play. Like learning and maintaining any language, studying music is a lifelong journey with daily practice. It is never too late and always worth it.
Burton-Hill, Clemency. “Why it’s never too late to learn an instrument.” BBC Culture. http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20170110-why-its-never-too-late-to-learn-the-piano
Hensold, Dick. “How to Play Music Faster: Ideal Practice Methods for Adult Musicians.” Dick Hensold Teaching. http://www.dickhensold.com/playfaster.html
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