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How does learning an instrument benefit your whole education?

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#1 scarlettgirl

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 17:07

Hi all!

 

I'm in my final year of a music education degree and one of my last assignments requires me to ask musicians and music educators the above question! I would love to hear your feelings on this.

 

Does learning a musical instrument benefit your whole education? How?

 

Any answers will be welcome.

 

Thank you, I appreciate your help :)

 

 


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#2 elemimele

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 19:29

Wrong questions! Music makes people happy, and that should be enough.

 

The fact that musicians spend so much time agonising over the benefits of music to people's overall mental health, and trying to prove that studying an instrument will increase someone's grade in A-level physics, is a dismal sign of an underlying suspicion of inferiority. No one goes around saying "study geography because it will help your mental health! Study French because it will help you stay fit! Study maths because it will improve your concentration!" I rather doubt that many great painters painted because they thought it would help them improve their chemistry, and I doubt that people visiting the Louvre are doing it for its knock-on benefits on their computer coding skills.

 

Be proud, and do music for its own sake; if you tie music to another subject, and try to prove that music is worthwhile because of its benefits to another subject, then you risk creating the impression that music is only worthwhile because of its benefits to other subjects. If the benefits prove exaggerated, then you have undermined the validity of studying music at all.


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#3 fsharpminor

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 20:04

I doubt I would have performed better in my school subjects because I was learning two instruments.  The time it took in practising and having those lessons almost certainly had a deleterious effect.  I did spend a lot of time on it, getting a dip by just age16, though I took that in lower 6th between GCE O and A levels. I have never regretted it however, and am eternally grateful to my parents for making it possible. Later on at Uni, studying chemistry, I certainly did spend more time on music than I should and struggled to get my degree.  But since those days , when music has just been a hobby , it has been the most fulfilling and relaxing experience and I do still (at age 70) learn new repertoire, do the occasional weekend course, and perform in an amateur piano group, as well as being a church organist (for no fee) .


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#4 cestrian

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 20:06

In response to the question asked, my experience says 'yes' it has benefitted my 'education/life experience' as a whole.

 

Learning cello has been one of the most challenging things I've ever done. I started for a few reasons but one was the result of a discussion with someone at work who said 'it's quite liberating doing something that you're rubbish at'. The general idea being that it's unhealthy to only do things you're good at and then ruining it trying to be as good as you can be etc.

 

So I had a shot at music, something I knew nothing about beforehand.

 

What have i learned and how has it benefitted me? Much of it is rather reflective but take your pick from any of the following:

 

-it's seriously difficult, easily the most difficult thing I've ever done. I've gone from 'how fast to G8' to playing a single note over and over again looking for something deep within the sound that tells me my bow weight, locus on string, etc is right. To do something well requires serious dedication and an ability to break down very complex physical tasks into smaller manageable tasks and then building up. Much like other sports that I do and also how I teach those sports to others. I learned this from learning cello.

 

-in fact it's so difficult, there is no destination, you are left with the journey and some nice pit stops on the way. You'll never get to the end because it's like a fractal: the deeper you go, the complexity remains. It doesn't matter how good I get it, my teacher just raises the bar a little, ad infinitum. Practically everything else is like this. There is a bar of acceptability, e.g. driving, or passing a flying exam (bizarrely only 75%) and then there's quality performance which is light years beyond. You need to know what you're aiming for before you can ever decide how you're going to get there and also to know when you're there.

 

-You've got to listen to others if you're going to make a great end result. Admittedly, work meetings are far removed from quartet sessions but you know what I mean. Everyone has their say, in music and in life.

 

-Music is everywhere, bigger than everything else combined and then multiplied by a billion and if you get it right, you have the power to change people's state of mind. Drugs will do that too but doing with a horse tail and wooden box with metal strings is really cool..

 

-Your brain works in a way that is completely different to anything else. Your thinking about what you sound like, what sound you are supposed to make next, before you make it, what sound someone else is making, when they make it and how do you engage with them to make it beautiful, while also thinking about your right forefinger, your wrist, your posture, your tension in your neck, your left arm, your left foot, et, etc, etc, etc. all at the same time! What else does that?? Probably why musicians are mentally healthier for longer.

 

-there are so many noises you can make with a cello. You can tap the wood (yuch), bounce the string, draw the string slowly/quickly across its full length or for 2mm, depending on what you want to express. There's so much you can do with one thing.

 

-and there are so many ways of making the same sound. A trip around the music museum in Paris the other day looking at all the different receptacles with a string stretched across it all to make a noise. And there are so many ways of making the same thing.

 

-and there's the occasional reward when it sounds really fabulous!

 

IMHO you've stumbled across a truly massive subject and a million different answers! Enjoy.


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#5 Thepianist

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 20:10

I have to disagree in a way, your brain is a muscle and if it doesn't get used to its full benefit it becomes stagnant. Learning an instrument uses the brain to full effect. Where you have so much to learn and to take in, that it makes you more alert in your everyday life. Your reaction times increase and your ability to work out problems and think of ways of getting around problems increase. We live in a society these days especially in the U.K. Where everything is quick fix and some people can't be bothered to work hard for thier success. Using your brain to its full potential in anything you decide to do can only be a good thing mentally. I agree music makes people happy but the person creating the music isn't always necessarily a happy person. Music is maths at the end of the day it's just as humans we have somehow associated it with feelings and emotions. Whether that be a song which has been played at a very important time in someone's life. It brings up all kind of feelings and emotions, that isn't the music doing that it's your brain remembering a time in your life which was either sad or happy. Just my personal opinion on it.
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#6 Arundodonuts

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 20:10

Funny you should ask. Just today I saw this article reference by Nicholas Daniel

 

https://www.theguard...re_iOSApp_Other

 

Oh and I like that comment from Cestrian

-in fact it's so difficult, there is no destination, you are left with the journey and some nice pit stops on the way. You'll never get to the end because it's like a fractal: the deeper you go, the complexity remains.


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#7 EllieD

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 21:03

I agree with elemimele that you shouldn't have to justify learning anything. If you want to learn, that's always good and should always be encouraged, whatever it is!

 

I am sure that the more you learn and study, the better your brain gets at doing that, so if you learn music, then that will help with other studies because your brain is more receptive to learning - but that would be true of anything that you wanted to learn. 


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#8 hummingbird

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 01:03

I'm in my final year of a music education degree and one of my last assignments requires me to ask musicians and music educators the above question! I would love to hear your feelings on this.

 

Does learning a musical instrument benefit your whole education? How?

 

Hello scarlettgirl smile.png

 

Can you clarify what the assignment means by "benefit your whole education".  It implies (to me, anyway) education in curricular subjects at school or in further education, and whether learning music has a beneficial impact on other areas of study.  So I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer the question in the way it's phrased as I left formal education quite a while ago.  Sorry if I'm being obtuse!


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#9 jim palmer

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 11:41

Learning an instrument requires a range of learning skills.

Memory- learning the notes and the fingering on your instrument, with theory for your playing level.

Virtual practice, rehearsing "in your head"

Practical problem solving to overcome difficulties with your instrument.

Perseverance.

 

You get the same benefit in my view from other activities such as maths with computer programming, chemistry with practical projects, history with research & learning latin etc.

The trouble is that serious practical work in science is thought to be too dangerous before 16+ and even then is often just routine boring stuff.

smile.png


Edited by jim palmer, 22 January 2018 - 17:10 .

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#10 sbhoa

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 16:47

Does it benefit anything or anybody if they don't enjoy it?

For learning an instrument to impact on other areas do you need to be a regular, effective practiser?


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#11 jim palmer

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 17:05

Yes of course you need the mind for music, maths or whatever so you get encouraging feedback from your teacher and will enjoy practice.

The advantage of music or maths is you can practice your instrument or computer in your spare time, parents are usually tolerant of that.

If keen on science you could have a chemistry or electronics set, easier if parents work in that area.


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#12 linda.ff

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 17:05

Music - the Seven Cs

 

It needs you to sharpen them up, but it also enhances them.

Concentration,

Coordination.

Cooperation. 

Confidence

Creativity

Communication

 and (self-)Control

 

You only get to do living just the once, so for any one instance you can't compare how well you would have done had you learnt or not learnt an instrument, which is why I disagree with f#major. You can't know whether the way you had trained yourself in application to a subject influenced the way you were able to apply yourself to other subjects. You aren't a robot, for whom possibly 60 minutes a day improving music meant 60 minutes' less improvement to geography or history or biology.


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