Video tutorials and clips concerning a number of popular instruments in todays modern orchestra.
Want to learn an instrument?
There are many reasons why people want to learn an instrument; some just like the sound it makes and want to try it for themselves, others might enjoy the spectacle of an orchestra in live performance and want to join in. Some play because their parents think it will be good for them. Others, as adults, take up an instrument because they never had the chance as a child, or because they gave up and only later realised what a wonderful thing they were missing!
Whatever the motivation, learning to play an instrument can have great educational and social benefits, as well as providing an emotional outlet and intellectual challenge.
The most obvious aspect of this is that, in becoming a musician, one can experience the artistic creativity of music at first hand. Playing ‘classical’ music usually involves a shared responsibility between the composer and the performer; the job of the player is not only to read the notes faithfully, but also to understand what they mean and to convey the musical language in their own accent.
Musicians partake in an activity that is vital to nearly every culture on the earth! The purpose of music, in most societies, is to act as a language of the emotions, conveying thoughts and feelings that are often beyond words. Music is a powerful communicator and has the potential to enrich and ennoble us as human beings.
Classical music is surely one of the most extraordinary manifestations of western culture over the last five centuries! Music is a tremendous gift and a living heritage. It is not ‘intellectual’ by definition (although it can be), it does not need us to be scholars to appreciate it (although knowledge is a good thing!) and it doesn’t need us to be powerful or privileged to access it. This said, there is often a perception that ‘classical’ music is somehow elitist or highbrow, and audiences at live concerts are beginning to age and dwindle. It is sad to think that many young people know nothing of the challenges of Bach, the epic struggles of Beethoven, or the elegance and finish of Mozart or Haydn. We as a School don’t just want people to learn instruments – we want to nurture a new generation to love, cherish and perpetuate the musical heritage that belongs to all of us. Use it, or lose it, as they say!
Apart from these noble thoughts, music can teach us lots of useful skills – social skills, working with other musicians, individual discipline and study and the ability to self-motivate. A high degree of patience is required to achieve well, and a balance of short- and long-term strategies (particularly lacking in today’s ‘instant’ culture). Pupils must grow and mature in initiative, courage, communication and perseverance – these are ‘life skills’. Indeed, it is interesting to note that music graduates applying for jobs outside the music profession have a high success rate at interview – many employers recognise that musicians have relatively high standards of achievement and discipline, as well as the ability to see a long-haul task through to the end.
The good habits and attitudes acquired through learning an instrument will go deep and have the potential to change a young person’s whole outlook on life, even if they just play for fun. For adults, perhaps taking up an instrument for the first time, the simultaneous thinking, co-ordination, planning and rapid reaction needed to perform, not to mention the actual skill itself, can help develop and maintain mental agility.
All of these things avoid the most obvious point – learning a musical instrument, although always a challenge (even a struggle from time to time) is, if persevered with, immensely enjoyable and very absorbing.
It is often great fun too!