July 2012

The Beauty of Music: Finding Your Instrument

July 26, 2012 09:29

Finding the 'correct' instrument for a child is something which can take a lot of time and money. Some people are more suited to the violin, such hundreds of us on this site, where as others are suited to a wind instrument and some to the likes of the piano.

How many people have you met who have said 'Oh I wish I could play the piano,' or 'I started the clarinet but gave up after grade 5?' The likelihood is you've come across many, and the fact that you've revealed your musical skills to them seems to trigger one of the many common regrets people have - their lack of understanding music.

I was lucky to find my instrument the first time around. I remember at the age of six watching the Proms on television and it was the first time I had ever seen an orchestra (or at least, taken notice of one). The violinists captured my imagination, and for three years I dreamed of one day becoming a violinist. When I was nine and received my first violin, it was probably the most life changing event I have ever been through to date.
My parents aren't musical, and if I would have lost interest in the violin, I expect they, as so many parents sadly do, would probably not have invested in any more musical activities other than the church choir I was a part of. I was already in many clubs and enjoyed dancing at the time, and I had further passions in writing, sports and science. If the violin wouldn't have been 'my instrument' then I doubt I would be doing the amount of music (which took over my dancing) today.

Talking about how someone - especially a child - is suited to a particular instrument is something which I find intriguing. What makes a child 'right' for an instrument? Why does one thing capture the imagination so much more than another? There are a few books out there which I have had a quick look at which delve into this new 'science' about music, children and instruments.

Some children don't remember not playing their instrument. Their parents may have started them on the violin or piano so early on that it just developed with the child. I think I'm right in saying that only one in ten children who start in this way succeed at their instrument. Others pick it up later and take to their instrument like a duck to water. Then there's those people who go through several instruments before settling on the one they like the most. And finally, there are those who start an instrument, lose interest and never really get given the opportunity again.

If I use my own experiences as an example once more, then it is obvious that piano has never felt suited to me. Piano was always a struggle; I've never been able to play it well, my technique is probably shocking and I've never really had any interest. I can just about play to the standard of a piano reduction of Beethoven 7, but put me next to a 'real' pianist and I'm outshone by a mile.

Finding your instrument is something which is a personal journey. Many of us on violinist.com had the opportunity and privilege of starting an instrument as a child, and for many, succeeding in finding the right one straight away. Those who never had the opportunity but have started later are to be admired; many people out there have no feeling of worth and refuse to even try, or at least give up very early on.

Everybody has the potential to be musical. Parents who are not musical should encourage their children to find the right musical instrument, and if they don't get it right first time then they shouldn't give up. In my opinion, one of the many beauties of music is the fact that human beings have a natural instinct towards the pure, universal language which can express so much emotion, and many more people out there should have the opportunity to express that.

10 replies

The Beauty of Music: Trial and Error

July 23, 2012 17:21

It has been a whole six months since writing a blog on violinist.com, but that doesn't mean I haven't been popping in for a sneak peak every so often! Now that it's the summer holidays and I have a couple of weeks' peace and quiet, I can find some more time for writing once more.

These past six months have been a whirlwind of opportunities for me. I have had several solo performances along-side group performances in amazing places such as the Royal Festival Hall in London and the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.
These months have also been about playing a game of trial and error for me. A lot of music is trial and error: there is no one formula for achieving success, nor writing a piece of music which connects with thousands or millions of people. There is no one way of going about interpreting a piece, nor is there one way of teaching a new technique. Each and every one of us is individual. We all have our own musical tastes, we all learn in different ways, and we all continue learning and developing our musical skills for the rest of our lives. Trial and error plays a big part in this as each and every one of us develops when we learn a new piece or search for a new instrument.

One of the main things I have learnt this year has been to appreciate each person for whom they are and what music they enjoy. At music school, it is very easy for arguments to develop about how Bach should be played or which conductor interprets Beethoven in the correct way, but these arguments can cloud the sheer beauty of music. The point is that Bach can be played in hundreds of ways and no conductor has a right or wrong interpretation of Beethoven.

For me, adulthood has come around fast as I will soon be eighteen and leaving school for good. I have a lifetime of trial and error ahead of me and one of the biggest games I will be playing will be within the next two years when I'm choosing where I want to do my degree and whether it'll be in performance or academic music.

Trial and error is just one of the many aspects which adds to the beauty of music, and I'm sure that with some help and guidance, I'll achieve at least some of my future dreams.

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