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04/29/2013

Sounds with Sweets: Learning to Play a Musical Instrument

 

"The truth is this: anyone can learn a musical instrument…anyone. Even the people who claim that they 'do not possess a musical bone in their bodies*' can learn to make music.

*As a small side note…all bones are actually musical. They have been used to make wind chimes, drumsticks, drums, whistles, and flutes. It’s been going on for millions of years…just sayin’.

All that is required to learn any musical instrument and begin making music is time, effort, dedication, and most importantly, desire- though owning an instrument and getting some instruction helps the process greatly! You need time and effort to spend learning the basics of the instrument, dedication to utilize that time and effort to learn in a fairly regimented and regular fashion and the desire to make music.

Some would argue that learning a musical instrument also requires the possession of a really fine instrument, but I would respectfully disagree. I have heard extremely masterful players of many different instruments and musical genres who did not use highly expensive instruments to express themselves musically. In the hands of an unpracticed amateur, an extremely expensive instrument will sound merely like a noisy piece of junk, while in the hands of a truly masterful player, even the most inexpensive of musical instruments will sound like they were hand-crafted by artisans.

Although certain virtuosic pieces can be exceptionally challenging to play, even for well-learned musicians, the act of making music in its most basic forms is not difficult. One does not have to be a virtuoso to be able to make music. Music is easy and fun. It actually comes to us all very naturally. Small children often hum and sing while playing, often making up words, cadence-like phrases and melodies as they go along. Each and every one of us has spontaneously created music at some point in our lives, whether as a small child or as adults. We all have sung along to our favorite songs while in the shower or while driving to and from work in our car. Music actually comes very naturally to us humans.

I realize as I am typing all of this that some of you will be thinking or possibly saying out loud to yourselves, 'I could never play the (insert name of instrument) the way (insert favorite instrument player) plays it.'  First, consider this: you are probably saying that from the perspective of someone who possesses little or no experience on the instrument you are referring to, and the person you are comparing your (lack of) musical abilities to has, for most of his/her life, been playing that instrument regularly and has spent a great amount of time trying to master it.

Typically speaking, masterful players have a way of making what they do with their instruments appear to be so easy; and it is easy…for them. Such a thing is the simple result of many years of practice and vast amounts of time spent mastering their craft. The downside of this is when newcomers to the instrument sit down and try to mimic the playing displayed by said masterful player, the newcomer often gets discouraged because they thought it would be easy. Not the case at all. It takes time to master anything. Anything can be mastered with enough time.

So quit saying you can’t make music. Quit saying that there isn’t a musical bone in your body. Go get yourself a piano, guitar, drum set, violin, accordion, bagpipes or whatever you happen to be inspired to learn to play! All you need is some desire to learn and the time and effort to accomplish your goals. It has been said that the only things needed to play rock-n-roll is three chords and a cloud of dust…and to a great degree it’s true. Using the handful of chords that my father taught me to play on my first guitar at the age of six, I can strum along with just about anyone. Sure, there are some chords that I’m unable to play, but not because I can’t play them- but rather because they are unfamiliar to me right now. I can learn them. And over time, I will. Who knows how much music you will be making given a little time and desire to learn."

Get to know the man behind the blog, ZBB's very own Chris Fryar, in this video. 


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