Some of my friends know that I am a former pianist. I used to play. Had played for a few years, then I took a rather long break, prompted by, but not limited to, my KCSE exams amongst many other such unnecessary distractions :-). So, I resumed my classes. And I have learnt quite a bit.
Firstly, the Piano is one of the few last true pleasures that I really have in this planet. I really don’t know how to describe it, but playing the Piano is one of those things that regardless of mood, relaxes me. For some reason, I never really believe that the otherwise bungling buffoon is capable of having a musical bone in his body (referring to self).
I was then reminded of why it is generally important for one to learn an instrument, regardless of age and what point they are in their lives. There are quite a number of virtues associated with playing an instrument, that are beneficial to a person. They are, in my opinion:
- Patience – The saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ has never been more elaborate. Learning is slow, but extremely rewarding at the same time. It may take you a long time to learn a particular piece of music, but the feeling of accomplishment after is surprisingly rewarding. It’s basically a reflex you are building, so it’s like becoming a master soccer player. Practice is largely mundane. However, when you finally get to the game, it all comes together in an extremely rewarding fashion (in this case we assume you are on the winning team 🙂 ).
- Humility – Now, I went in for my classes. My playing sucked. So, I was forced to do basic piano drills, you know, this is *middle C* this is *F* etc etc etc… Basically, the same classes I went through when I was 9 years old. I was about to tell the instructor to take a long walk off a short pier, until it hit me that I had lost the ability to read music, and really I did need that back to basics instruction. Leave your pride at the door. The instructors often know much more than you and you only need to let them play to realise that.
Another two skills that are much often ignored are both rhythm, generally… Additionally and more importantly (for me at least) is natural finger dexterity. My typing speed has always been markedly higher than the average person, and given that most work today involves using a computer and hence using a keyboard as your single mode of getting data into the PC, it kinda helps if you can do that faster. You basically work much faster than the average person. This is a general skill that you get so long as your instrument involves complex finger movements.
If you can, please, sign up to learn whatever instrument you have been dying to play. For me, its worth it’s weight in gold and a better spend of my time and money than watching that extra episode of “24/Dexter/Smallville/”Ubuntu”<where Ubuntu = any other series 😉 “.
On a related note, you can get Piano’s at a really affordable rate locally, depending on where you choose to look. Typically, I’d recommend getting a grand piano, but these are really only practical if you own the house you live in (if you don’t it’s simply fiscal imprudence, buy the house first, given that they typically cost in excess of 1 million KES). Option two is to get an upright Piano. But the option that presents the lowest cost of entry is the Electric Piano. Does not have exactly the same feel as an upright piano, but is as close as it get’s and is actually much better than most of the Electric Keyboards you get in the market… They cost roughly the same as a high end smartphone :-).