Often when children start playing music very young, they burn out on it early and never pick it back up again. While this certainly isn’t a law of nature, it is plainly observable if you take a random survey of a dozen people. Sometimes learning in a formal setting can seem drab and stressful; so much of the experience is dependent on how good the teacher is, and as children we react strongly to authority figures. Therefore, if you end up with a bad music teacher when you are young, you may never want to revisit music as you grow older because of a bad experience, a knee-jerk reaction.
What’s interesting is that a lot of people who end up being most successful as musicians come to it on their own, as adolescents or teenagers jamming in the basement or maybe picking up jazz band in high school. When we find something we love on our own time, it makes it feel more personal, more joyful, and therefore, often you’ll find enduring musicians who are totally self taught.
While teaching yourself how to play music is great, it’s important to remember that no matter how far you can get on your own, you can always benefit from professional music lessons. Even if you’ve taught yourself foundational techniques and skills, taking music lessons will definitely help to improve your technique in areas such as fingering, dynamics and even basic posture. Many musicians who are self taught end up with repetitive strain injury (RSI) because of poor technique. This ends up being a tragedy, since it causes the individual physical pain to do the very thing that they love: perform music.
Especially if you have a young friend or family member who is struggling to make it as a musician, they are likely living that starving artist lifestyle and not making very much money. Music lessons make amazing gifts for people who are incredibly passionate about music but who would never consider buying themselves professional lessons. Just think: you may be saving them from an injury that could truncate a blossoming career.
Even if the musician in question has a solid sense of their artistic vision, craft is a huge part of music. Young, cocksure artists may think they know the best way to do everything, but you can always improve technique. Even if you’re making rock songs with only three chords or rapping over simple beats and bass, there’s always a way to refine your craft and add attention to detail that will improve your music by 10 or 20%.
To make cool music, you need to develop a strong sense of what your style is – technique alone won’t make your career unless you want to perform in a symphony orchestra (even then, feeling is important). A professional music teacher won’t tell you how to find your voice, but they’ll definitely help you refine it and make it more technically pleasing, easier on the ears, and, most importantly, easier and more comfortable for you to perform.
Buy the musician in your life professional lessons this winter and see how much they appreciate it – even if they didn’t think they needed them.