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5 myths about taking music lessons

Posted by Mariana Del Rosal on Jul 9, 2020 10:56:29 AM

If you talk to people about how you are thinking about signing up for online lessons, you may bump into well-intentioned (seriously?) advisors that will try to make you quit before you start. Most of them are people who haven’t got good experiences learning music (I remember telling you all about a certain relative of mine whose mother forced her to become a piano teacher!). And some of them truly believe they are right when stating these myths we are about to demystify. In any case, don’t listen to them!

Myth #1: Not everyone is “musically gifted”

Some people believe you need special, rare talents to become a musician. Anyone less than Beethoven, Mozart, or Bach, should not waste their time and efforts. This is plain dumb! Geniuses are rare, of course, but the truth is anyone –literally anyone- can enjoy music. Even if you are born deaf, there can always be a teacher who can somehow lead you through music appreciation, as this touching scene of the 1995 film Mr. Holland’s Opus shows.

Of course, some people learn faster than others. Some have somewhat of a natural skill for performing or a natural perfect pitch. But if you have neither, you can still become a great musician with enthusiasm and practice. And speaking of practicing…

Myth #2: You need to practice several hours a day to learn how to play an instrument

The same people who state only natural gifted geniuses can play music will usually add something like “ok, ok, you may learn too… but you’ll need to spend many precious hours of constant practicing if you wish to achieve a good level with any instrument”. This depends on what you understand for “a good level”. If you aim to make a living as a classical pianist, ok, we grant you that you’ll have to dedicate most of your time to studying, practicing, and perfecting your ability. But perhaps you don’t want to become a professional musician, only to enjoy yourself! And that’s great too!

In any case, what’s important is that you practice regularly. You don’t need many hours: a 15-minute daily practice is about right! And nothing happens if you skip a day every other week or so.

Myth #3: Learning music is a waste of time if you already have a profession

“But you are doing great as a lawyer/history teacher/entrepreneur (insert your current job here). Why would you waste your free time like this?” I must admit it is my least favorite myth of all: thinking about music only for utilitarian reasons is freaking heartless! People who say things like that are usually the same people that, when purchasing a car, they don’t picture themselves driving around with friends or going to fun places, but only calculate the resale value or how much they’ll spend in gas.

Some things in life are meant to be done for pure enjoyment! And for you, music can be one of those things! Sure, if you get good at playing an instrument, it would be nice to record a hit song or to play in pubs with your band, but you don’t need to become a professional musician and earn money to feel music is worth it.

Besides, if you want to consider the “practical” side of learning music, it still offers many benefits: from better attention spam to higher concentration levels, from sleeping better at night to improve your diction, or your back posture. So even if you want to think that the only reason for learning music is not for pleasure, but for secondary advantages, you’d still be right in signing up for those lessons, no matter how well established you are in your current profession.

Myth #4: You’re just too old to learn

Ok, ok, we must admit this myth is partially true, but let me underline the “partially” part. When it comes to learning, little children are like sponges: they absorb knowledge and new skills as if their little brains were sponges! This is not only visible when you see little children studying music, but also when it comes to learning a new language. Neural plasticity is a real thing! In fact, most music teachers would agree on the fact that 6-years-old is the perfect age to start formal music instruction. But, by no means, this implies you won’t learn unless you start really young.

There is always time to learn new stuff. If you want to play the saxophone now, even if you are in your eighties, you can do it! It will take you more time and more perseverance the older you are, but you’ll still get there if you keep trying and you don’t give up.

Myth #5: You’ll never learn without a teacher next to you!

This last myth refers to the fact that it is quite difficult to teach yourself music. A music tutor will provide you guidance, and take you, step by step, through a learning program that is proven to work. They will help you notice your strengths and get over your weaknesses. And you won’t get any of this from online video tutorials.

In any case, some people manage to achieve an acceptable level with some instruments despite the lack of formal instruction. For instance, if you already play a musical instrument such as the guitar, you may get by with a ukulele as well. But if it is the first time you ever consider learning music, a music tutor is highly recommended.

However, this doesn’t mean you need a traditional learning method such as going to a studio! Nowadays, technology offers many possibilities for taking online lessons in the comfort of your home, staying safe and looking after your health. And also, the perfect teacher for you can live in another country, and still teach you properly.

Now that we have debunked those awful myths, you know it! Nothing should stop you from signing up for music lessons if you feel like it!

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