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Why play a musical instrument?

Why should you play a musical instrument? Lots of important people have played instruments: presidents of the United States , movie stars, teachers, professional athletes, and some of your friends and neighbors. Here are some of the reasons all these people did this:


It’s fun. Playing a musical instrument is lots of fun. Everybody enjoys hearing music, but the people who make the music have the most fun. Imagine yourself playing an instrument. The sound you're making rises and falls, singing in the voice of the instrument. But it’s not really the instrument that’s making those great sounds—it’s you! It’s fun, even when you play by yourself. Playing in a group is even better because other players are sharing the fun. There’s no way to have all that fun than for you to be the person who is playing the music!


You meet interesting people. Without even trying, you’ll be around interesting people when you play music. You may start playing by yourself, but soon you’ll be playing with other people. You’ll discover that people who play instruments are bright, interesting people very much like you, and your music gives you something in common. It has been said, “You may not remember who sat next to you in English class, but you’ll never forget who sat next to you in band.” Playing music seems to attract people who are smart, highly motivated and fun!


You can hear applause that's for you. Most people never hear anyone clap for them. But almost everyone who plays an instrument eventually hears people applauding. Whether you’re playing in a small event like a recital or a gathering of friends or family, or whether it’s a big concert in a school band or orchestra, eventually you’ll hear people clapping for you after they hear you play your instrument. It feels wonderful to hear applause that’s for you. It gives you confidence and makes you feel good about yourself. It can make your parents and friends proud of you, too.


You learn a special language. “Music is the universal language,” people often say. That’s because around the world, people use the same notes and marks for music. Wherever you go, the written music looks the same. After you learn to play music, you could go to any country and read the music. You’ll be able to “speak” the same language as someone from France or China or Sierra Leone . You’ll know the special language that only music makers know.


You get smarter. Many people say that music makes you smarter. They also say that the younger you are when you start learning music, the more it boosts your brain power. It may seem like you’re just having fun as you play music, but your brain is actually doing some impressive things: Your brain is counting out mathematics. You’re operating a sophisticated mechanical device, your instrument. You’re keeping track of many different things at once—your counting, your breathing, your finger movements and the things other players are doing.  You’re expressing ideas and emotions that are in the music. It’s science and it’s art—all at the same time. People who study intelligence have a lot of different ideas about what makes a person smart, but ask someone who plays an instrument and you’ll get a very intelligent answer!


You get exercise. Playing an instrument is a physical activity. It requires hand-eye coordination to move your hands and your fingers just right. Wind instruments also teach you to control your breathing and to coordinate your breath, fingers and mouth to work together (Your eyes are also getting a workout following the notes on the page). After you play your instrument for a while, you’ll feel pleasantly tired as if you just had a physical workout. You really did have a workout—and you loved it!



Comments by Paul Abbott, Phillips Guild mentor.