The magic of music


By Luke Vest

I started taking guitar lessons in sixth grade. Piano never interested me, and the tuba was too heavy, so guitar was the happy medium. 

I remained in lessons for three months but then quit because my teacher would often break off into complex solos worthy of Hendrix’s applause while I was trying to learn the names of the strings. His amazing abilities discouraged me from continuing because I felt like learning this skill was going to take me a lifetime. 

After a two-month hiatus, I picked up the guitar again because I desperately needed to learn to play Howie Day’s “Collide.” (Give me a break, I was twelve.) I learned to play the chords on the Internet and practiced the song constantly. 

I repeated this process for many other songs, and playing the guitar became more and more natural everyday. I finally felt confident in my guitar skills after six months, and I think that learning how to play an instrument is a skill that anyone can acquire.

Learning to play a musical instrument is not nearly as difficult as one might think, and it has countless benefits which is why I think everyone should attempt to learn how to play an instrument.

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Playing music is fun. Learning your favorite songs and playing them gives you a sense of accomplishment. Whether you’re performing in front of a crowd or jamming out in your dorm room, playing music is always enjoyable because it provides a unique way to express yourself. It is also a great venue to bring out your emotions.

Music is one of the best hobbies. If you’re looking for a way to spend down time, pick up the old guitar that’s been lying around or start playing the keys on the piano you might have sitting around your home. Your time spent practicing an instrument will not be wasted because the more you play, the more skilled you become. 

Another benefit I’ve experienced while playing an instrument is its stress-relieving capabilities. Whenever I’m studying for a big test and need to relax, I play some guitar. It takes my mind off of things and puts my mind on the music. If I’m angry about something, I usually take it out on the guitar strings instead of someone else. It has made me a more level-headed person, and I’m sure it could do the same for others as well, particularly students who are prone to high stress levels in a college environment.

If you can play one instrument, it becomes much easier to learn to play another. It’s similar to when you learn one language, you find it easier to learn a different language because there are similar patterns in verbs, nouns and other aspects. Guitar is my main instrument of choice, but it has taught me rhythm and how to read music, which are two things required for most other instruments. As such, I also dabble in the ukulele.

You absolutely cannot learn to play an instrument unless you are motivated. My parents stuck me in piano lessons for the first several years of my life. I had no interest. Don’t start playing music until you find the instrument that you want to play. 

A surprisingly large amount of musicians live on my floor in Scott Hall. The majority of them are guitar players like myself. As I roam the halls with guitar in hand, I search for instrument cases in the rooms with open doors, hoping to start a jam session. Whenever I find a fellow guitar player, I proceed to ask when he started playing the instrument. 

It turns out one of the guys on my floor started playing two weeks ago. I praise him for deciding to play music — one of the greatest decisions that he will ever make. 

Learning to play an instrument seems very intimidating at first, but I can assure you, once you’re jamming out in your dorm like you’re Jimi Hendrix, you’ll never regret it.

Luke is a freshman in Engineering. He can be reached at [email protected].