At birthday parties, weddings, dinner parties, bars, or anywhere else that I’m getting to know someone new, there’s always a person (or 10) that asks “And what do you do for a living?”
The reaction when I tell them is immediate and predictable: “You’re a musician? Oh, if only I had stuck with music. I wish I learned how to sing, I would have loved to play piano!” Whether they’re 22 or 102, I have never in my life had someone say “Oh, I used to be a musician too, but I fell out of it and I’m glad I did, I didn’t like music much.”
So why is it, then, that music schools and private teachers aren’t brimming with adults who feel like they missed an opportunity? I’ve always felt like people should make room for music lessons the way they make room for the gym–yes, okay, maybe you don’t actually feel like going all the time, and maybe it’ll tighten your schedule, and maybe you feel like you can’t justify spending the money: but honestly, have you ever heard of anyone that regrets going to that spin class? No. And you probably haven’t heard someone who started studying music regret it either.
Learning music is perhaps marketed towards children, but that’s honestly a mistake on the part of the music educators’ part: music has incredible benefits that have nothing to do with SAT scores and language proficiency:
- Music lessons have been proven to release stress and raise endorphins. This is better expressed by Bob Marley saying “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain” or by Plato saying that “Music gives a soul to the universe” than any scholarly article could ever say, but if you’re interested in the psychology of it, our favorite article is found here. It talks specifically about the effect of singing on overall quality of life.
- Music strengthens the bond between people–in fact, a theory of the emergence of music during human evolution is due to the fact that musical experience synchronizes movements, and oscillatory brain activity between the people involved. In short, musicianship promotes empathy with the people you’re performing with, and on a grander scale–it can help you be more empathetic overall.
- There is a sense of accomplishment that you can with music–setting small goals that are achievable but still complex and difficult enough to challenge you is a wonderful practice to get into for yourself. Music lessons are just that–small, achievable goals that are challenging and intellectually stimulating but absolutely accomplishable.