I'm sure we've all been caught once or twice rocking out on the air guitar during our favorite song, or we've picked up a broom and pretended we were on stage performing for a crowd of thousands instead of on our front porch sweeping fall leaves. I know I have, much to the chagrin of my neighbors who look upon this crazy person with sideways glances as he bops to the beat of his own personal soundtrack. Even Jimi Hendrix started his own personal journey with the guitar by strumming on a broom at an early age. Now, I'm no Jimi Hendrix, but it's always inspiring to know that he was once a kid learning basic chords for the first time because he was driven to play.
The benefits of playing an instrument as a child are enormous. Music is a basic human necessity. As Plato said, "Music gives a soul to the universe, wings
to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything." Music has been an important facet of mankind since ancient times. Every major religion has a musical element in weekly worship, and there are countless documented studies of how ancient cultures believed that songs were actually magical spells because of the effect they had on people. Scientifically, music is proven to affect dopamine levels in the brain, which creates the feeling of pleasure. Studies also show that music at an early age helps young kids learn to read better, and they continue improving in school throughout their academic career.
Playing an instrument is something that can benefit a person greatly, especially if they start out as a child. Like anything, it will take practice and hard work, but what it instills at an early age is a sense of discipline and a feeling that you can accomplish anything. While it can be frustrating when you can't master that one solo or you don't sound exactly like John Mayer, it's really great when you finally figure it out and you're a bona fide rock star--even if it's just at home. I've been a musician since second grade, and it still feels awesome when I finish learning something and can play it for people.
Playing an instrument is also a great way to meet friends. I met many of the people I call my life-long friends through playing in ensembles and singing in choirs. There's a real sense of community and belonging when you talk to a fellow musician, and it's always fun to play together. Whether you're jamming in the basement or playing in public, you're different people creating something as one unit.
Most importantly, music provides an outlet for emotions whenever you need it the most. It's therapeutic after a bad day to come home, put on a song and play along with whatever you feel. Playing music can articulate your feelings better than words, and it translates them into a language that hits you on an emotional level so you end up understanding what you're going through more than if you didn't. It's a way to escape from your troubles in the safety of your own home.
If you are at least eight years old and you've ever wanted to learn how to play, bring your acoustic guitar to the Broadneck Community Library at 3pm on Saturday October 1, 2016 and I'll teach you some tips and tricks on how to start playing, and we'll learn some songs we can play together. I hope to see you there!