Overcoming the intimidation of learning how to play music
Written by Austin on February 3, 2019
Music can certainly be a challenging and intimidating subject and hobby to learn. Just one look at the material can discourage kids or any age group looking to learn music, and maybe this happened to you too. That said, there are always alternative methods of immersing oneself into the learning, especially when the learner starts making progress and advances themselves further.
Firstly, we need to understand the most common methods for learning music, and what should be considered when progressing further into more advanced concepts and activities. The most common methods nowadays are to take classes, reading the endless amounts of books available, and even watching video courses online. These are all excellent methods and are often necessary when first learning music, but the techniques will need to modify as the learner advances further. This is especially true once the learner is ready and able to start learning about music theory.
There are 3 techniques to be aware of as a student furthers their learning of music:
Just like learning anything else, the learner should imitate actions or movements of those teaching them, or from other experts. In the case of learning how to play the piano for example, the person teaching you would have started by playing a note (usually middle C).
As a learner, you would be in an observer’s role, learning how and where to play the middle C note, and then repeat the teacher’s action. Knowledge on this level is basic, and they are the building blocks of your knowledge in music. That said, getting good at imitation will allow you to further your learning later on as well - continue applying this technique, and get comfortable with it. Make a note that the pitch, tempo, dynamics, meter, and so on would be the focus of this technique.
An excellent approach to furthering one’s learning is to improvise, based on the current knowledge available. Also, there is likely enough practice with the musical instrument(s), where the learner can go beyond just what they are learning in a class. For example, take a musical piece that you like, and then alter it to your liking, but try to keep the original arrangement or elements of the original arrangement. This can greatly improve your versatility as a musician overall.
After really grasping improvisation, the learner will also be capable of creating original music. At this point, they are able to transfer their musical ideas and knowledge onto a sheet of paper, so it can be communicated with other musicians and audiences. The ability to compose music also means you are at the top of music creation as a whole. The learner, now practicing as a composer, will need to analyze the elements of music they are working with in order to create a new and original music piece.
Being able to use these techniques alongside what the learner is using allows them to really grasp music, and will in most cases slowly and naturally lead them to take an interest to music theory. This gradual progression towards more advanced techniques and concepts of music-learning creates further appreciation and interest in what the learner is doing.
Applying these techniques also removes the doubts, intimidations, and other negative feelings a learner may have when approaching music. Remember, music is meant to be enjoyed, by both the musician and the audience. You can learn music, and you can definitely have fun while doing so!
Austin helps music students prepare for their music theory exams through interactive studying and intensive practice. If you, your child, or someone you know needs help learning music theory, then please reach out to him today.