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By Christopher Rooney
Music has been said to be the back drop for our lives. Listening to music while driving, music at special occasions, music in movies, music on television shows, music when we exercise all contribute to the experience of life and the arts, in a very enjoyable manner. Upon hearing a song from our past, most of us can be transported back to vivid memories long forgotten. Music can move us to tears or bring a sense of joy. Music is indeed powerful and for most of us, an integral part of everyday life.
Interestingly, according to NAMM (the National Association of Music Merchants), less than 10% of the population currently play an instrument on a consitent basis(3-5 times a week). Many people who have attempted to play an instrument had their first experience in a school band program or piano lessons. While these programs are extremely important and have been linked to an increase of I.Q. in math and science, they have turned many people off to continuing a musical path, because playing an instrument became a “chore”, or because the teacher just wasn’t very good. Mandated practice by parents and teachers can take the fun out of music making for all but the naturally talented or dedicated players. Also, it’s a challenge to play a melody only instrument (i.e. trumpet, clarinet, etc.) without accompanying instruments.
Guitar is the most popular instrument for most aspiring musicians, but many people get discouraged quickly, thinking that it’s too difficult. Too many times the guitar is just not properly set-up to play easily, or the strings are of a gauge that is too hard to press down, which make it unlikely one will get very far, especially on their own. A good teacher at the outset will improve ones chances of progress. In addition, there are vastly improved teaching aids in DVD or VHS form, not to mention the wealth of educational information on the internet, that really make the process of learning simple and fun. It’s not necessary to be able read music in the traditional sense to have fun playing an instrument. In fact, many of the most celebrated and popular musicians can’t read a note.
Music should be fun and need not require hours of practice and sacrifice to derive the enjoyment of making music for yourself and friends. Aside from the obvious benefits of a sense of accomplishment, joy, it'sjust plain fun, studies have indicated that playing a drum or an instrument a few hours a week has tremendous mental and physical health benefits. The medical field of Music Therapy has grown as more and more studies have shown that playing an instrument, seems to help to stave off some of the effects of aging.
The ukulele has only four strings and most of the chords can be played with one, two or three fingers, making it much easier than the guitar. The Dulcimer can be played with one finger and a strum. The Autoharp is as easy as pushing a button down and strumming the strings. Hand drums are the simplest and the easiest way to get into the “rhythm” of making music. All of us are capable of making music and it is one of the most enjoyable and pure forms of self expression.
With a small investment of time and money, you can enjoy a lifetime of making music for yourself, your friends and loved ones.
Christopher Rooney has been a professional musician for over thirty years and has worked in management for Gibson Guitar, Slingerland Drums, Korg Keyboards, Marshall and Vox Amplifiers, as well as Washburn International. Chris is currently the owner of Compass Music in Madeira Beach, FL.