Playing an Instrument
For eight years of my life, I was a trumpet player. I fell in love with the trumpet at the band fair put on by my elementary school in third grade. The band teacher helped me try out a vast selection of musical instruments such as saxophone, percussion, trombone and oboe. But I found myself glued to the trumpet as soon as I made my very first weak “plah” sound that barely passed as a musical sound. Since that day, I’ve participated in countless bands from Honors Wind Ensemble to an All-Brass band to Jazz Ensemble 1. Once I hit college, though, I barely touched my instrument, which was bittersweet. See, there are pros and cons to playing a musical instrument.
- Love of music
From a young age, I loved music of all kinds. Playing in the band solidified my passion and allowed me to notice sounds and rhythms in any song I never before noticed. I often find myself humming to aspects of music many people just perceive as background noise. I can definitely say playing the trumpet has provided me with more appreciation for any song I hear. Additionally, I found a love for jazz music from playing jazz throughout high school. Even today, I listen to jazz music while studying or just driving in the car.
Learning an instrument requires consistent learning and practice in order to improve. I spent hours at home, in school, and after school going to rehearsals and practices for a variety of bands. Structuring my time in order to fit in band around my schoolwork and personal life taught me serious discipline. I also learned persistence, especially when I was struggling with learning a song or preparing for an audition.
I met several long-term friends through my high school jazz band. We often practiced together several times per week and built bonds. We used each other to get better at our respective instruments and create music together.
- Long-term health benefits
If pure amusement and interest weren’t enough, it might be beneficial to know that being a musician is actually beneficial to brain-function and long-term memory. Because of the complex nature of reading music and creating sounds with an instrument, playing music strengthens the brain’s structure and increases blood flow to the brain. There are many types of music therapy that capitalize on these benefits.
- Time consuming
The word “practice” might be the single most uttered word by musical instrumentalists. Starting out with an instrument can be challenging and time consuming to the point where many give up. If you’re trying to replicate your favorite guitar solo, it might take years of practice to get it to sound right. If you have a busy lifestyle and try to start playing an instrument, you will probably end up disappointed with your slow progress.
- Not everyone has the same natural talent
If there is one thing I learned from being in bands full of instrumentalists, it’s that some people just have more natural talent than others. For example, some people pick up on beats and rhythms without much practice and can just “sight-read” music. Others need to practice for hours before getting even a portion of the same music right. However, the plus side is everyone can get better with more practice.
- Not practicing can lead to lost ability
Now that it’s been over three years since I consistently played my trumpet, I can admit that I’ve lost a significant amount of my playing ability. The muscles used to play the trumpet require persistent exercise for increased endurance and ability to play higher notes. Unfortunately, not playing for an extended period of time can cause you to lose skills in playing a musical instrument.
Overall, playing an instrument just for fun can be an exciting hobby with many benefits. However, it’s important to consider whether or not you have the time and the fortitude to develop as a musician. Without dedication, playing an instrument can feel like a chore and you’ll struggle to improve. I can say without hesitation I will never regret the time I spent playing the trumpet, and I certainly hope I find the time and passion to play it again one day.