How best to learn music

How best to learn music

How best to learn music

Hello my dear readers! A warm welcome to you all! Here is another blog of mine and in this I shall tell you a very special story. My previous blog was on the bell effect” and I related bells to the Intensive care unit that I work in. If you do love the sound of bells, that’s the blog to read. I have written how bells placed in the ICU contributed to increased hand hygiene by the ICU staff. Today I am writing on “how best to learn music”?

The 5 important queries pertaining to learning music

In today’s blog I will be addressing “ the 5 important queries pertaining to learning music”:

1.            What is the right age to learn music?

2.            Is music easier to learn for some people?

3.            How will learning music help me in my life, if don’t intend to be a professional musician?

4.            What kind of music should I learn?

5.            Where can I learn music?

Is music for me?

I have come across so many people in my life who say things like “I’m not a music person”, “I don’t understand music” so on and so forth. Some tell me “I wish I could learn music”. There are others who ask me what the right age to learn music is.

Music is about doing

Today I shall try and answer some questions pertaining to music in this post that I call “how best to learn music”. As I know music is just about doing it. Like any other task, music gets done only if one gets involved in it. Just thinking about how to go about learning music will take one nowhere. It’s not the intention that matters, but it’s entirely about the action that one takes! And that’s true with all things in life, isn’t it?

Music of my fathers type

Here I have the opportunity to tell you here about my parents who introduced me to the world of music. My father Dr K Shiva Shankar was a professor of Agronomy and Forestry. He never learnt music in his life. He couldn’t sing or play any musical instrument.

An avid listener

However, my father was an avid listener. He listened to all kinds of music and had equipped himself with what was required to be a good listener. He had a radio, a cassette player, a spool player, and a LP record player.

The radio a must

The radio was a must before going to bed and was equally mandatory early in the morning. The day would start with the All India radio intro followed by the news in Sanskrit. This was invariably followed by a Carnatic classical music program.

Carnatic classical music the way to go

He loved Carnatic classical music and could identify the voices of most of the classical singers. Next, his favourite music included Hindustani Classical music. He could identify some classical ragas particularly the Carnatic ones. He wasn’t so fond of instrumental music.

Vocals over instrumental music

Vocals took precedence over every other form of music. Nevertheless he had a soft corner in his heart for the Veena, a beautiful Carnatic classical instrument. The other instruments didn’t make a big impact on him, not that he disliked them though.

how best to learn music
The Saraswati Veena: A classical instrument

No rock and roll

My father never listened to any rock music or the likes. There were a few popular bands like ABBA, Boney M that he heard. He did listen to Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, but that’s all. As I mentioned in my earlier blogs my dad had a collection of spools, LP records and cassettes and they were truly priced possessions.

My mother’s experiments with music

My mother Smt Vijayalaxmi Shankar on the other hand was not too musically inclined. She liked music but felt she couldn’t understand it well enough. By profession, she was a scientist and worked in the National Aerospace Laboratories at Bangalore.

The first lady engineer of the state

My mother was one of the first lady engineers from the state of Karnataka, India. She has a true mathematician’s brain and any kind of permutation and combination of numbers always got her mind ticking.

Mathematics and music

No Sudoku puzzles were left unsolved. Anything to do with numbers, and she was the right person for it. She was instrumental in making the electronics of the cockpit in India’s first light transport aeroplane Saras. What an achiever. But after an illustrious career of some 30 years when she retired she took up to music.

Learning the Veena

She started learning the Veena through a teacher near her home. She did struggle at the beginning but gradually it got easier and better. Her mathematical brain helped her making some amazing connections with music.

The mathematical composer

She was able to compose small pieces of music which actually to her mind happened to be a string of permutations and combinations of musical notes! She is actively pursuing playing the Veena even today.

What is the right age to learn music?

This brings me to the first question “What is the right age to learn music”? Music learning is not bound by any age. Any age is good to learn music. Young children seem to be able to pick up music much more easily as compared to adults. That’s possibly because they have to unlearn a lot less than adults.

New connections in the young brain

The young brain is forming new connections at a really amazing pace and it helps in learning music. It may feel intimidating to an adult to start learning music, but it is very much possible as I have illustrated to you in the preceding paragraphs. I can tell you that there are some real child prodigies’ and you will be amazed by their talent.

Music is for everyone

However it is not just the young who can learn music. Anyone who puts one’s mind to it may be able to learn music for one’s own satisfaction. But yes there is a notion that I carry which may be a bias and that is “it is easier for some and more difficult for some”. So that leads me to the second question “Is music easier to learn for some people”?

Is music easier to learn for some people?

The answer to this question is “yes” but it may not have a real scientific backing. I have been a doctor for quite some time now. I am an anaesthesiologist by profession and also do intensive care in the ICU of my hospital. Being an anaesthesiologist I had the opportunity to be on the other side of the operation table and I have watched a number of surgeons operate.

The lucky few who are gifted

I have come to realize that a few of them are gifted. They perform magic when they operate. The planes they dissect are perfect, the operating field is bloodless, they are super fast (an attribute most anaesthesiologists like) and they make the science look so artistic. I will not talk about the others. But broadly there are those who are gifted and find it easier. Be it surgery or music.

To shine you need to put in hardwork

So there you are, if you are talented you may find learning music easier. But to reach the top it’s more than just talent that’s needed, and it involves much of hard work, practise and dedication. To summarize it is easier for some people to learn music than others, but actually anyone can learn music put in the hard work and shine.

musical instruments

How will learning music help me in my life, if don’t intend to be a professional musician?

Now let’s explore the other questions that may arise with regards to learning music. “How will learning music help me in my life, if don’t intend to be a professional musician”?

The positive effects of music

Music has innumerable positive effects as you all may already be aware. Besides being a good past time, it helps one relax completely. After a stressful day at work, who wouldn’t love some great relaxation? Learning music develops the right side of your brain. It is really brain exercise. It helps one develop a complete personality.

Music and the professional edge

In today’s world it is just not enough to do what is expected of you. You are expected to do something extra other than what your job actually entails. That is the something extra that music provides you with. If you know music it tends to give you an edge professionally too.

Music just for fun

You are known not only for your job but as a talented person as well. So music turns out to be a great life skill to have. One doesn’t always have to take up something to the professional level, but just knowing music itself does one good.

What kind of music should I learn?

The next question would be “What kind of music should I learn”? That’s a difficult question to answer simply. There are children who keep humming songs and rhymes. There are others who may have a flair with instruments. It is for their parents to recognize their musical inclination and introduce them to music. Some children are fidgety and they may do amazing with musical instruments.

Drums for the hyperactive

Drums may be the answer to a hyperactive kid because it gives him something to do. Some kids are doers and they are constantly up to something or the other. Music can give them something great to do. A creative child may actually compose music. It’s a hit and try situation at times, but the child would give the parent an indication as to what would be the correct choice.

Guitar for the ease of availability

As far as adults are concerned, they may be choosier. Vocal music may suit some but picking up an instrument seem easier to do. Learning guitar could be the easiest to do as guitar classes are widely available. The instrument is easy to acquire, handy and can be carried everywhere with considerable ease.

Guitars: the perfect instrument to start off

The steep learning curve

There is however a steep learning curve involved. It may not make much sense at the beginning but slowly it gets better. Then there will come a time when it feels a like a breeze and becomes easy and enjoyable.

Learn any instrument you feel

So I would recommend you to choose any instrument that you like and just start. Give it a go! It is going to feel hard at the beginning but soon you will get there. This gets me to the final question that I’ll address today and that’s “Where can I learn music”?

Where can I learn music?

Music Classes

One can go to music classes and that would be the best option if one is serious about learning music. The advantages are that you have a teacher who can interact with you as you learn. There is an immediate feedback available. It is interactive. One could get in touch with other students with similar skills and there can be a competitive motivation.

Home Learning

One on one teaching and learning is another option. You may be lucky to find a teacher who coaches’ one on one at the comfort of your home. They may be more expensive as they have to allocate time exclusively to you. However, if you can afford it, that’s the way to go. You will get personal attention and may learn faster.

Online Courses

The other way is to subscribe to a music course online. There are many such courses available. They are easily accessible. The better ones are more expensive. One can pick up any kind of music online and the choice is wide. The disadvantages include not being able to appreciate the quality of the course. You may pay up and not get value for money.

Lack of feedback

There is certainly less feedback when you are learning. If you are making mistakes you may not get corrected. Not withstanding that, each internet master has his own unique style and so I don’t recommend it to beginners. Nevertheless, the other aspect is that since it is always available a lot of self discipline is needed to get back to your course and complete it.

Live Jamming

There is another way to improve musical skills and that is by live jamming sessions. This includes picking up music techniques from the community. Visiting and playing in jam rooms gives hands on experience and helps build a better connection between likeminded people.

How best to learn music?

Thus, my endeavour in this blog named “how best to learn music” was to answer five important questions pertaining to learning music. Each aspect is a blog in itself and this is an overview at best. I will try covering each aspect separately in more detail in the future blogs.

Stay Updated

With that, I have come to the close of this post. I hope you found value in it. I request you to leave a comment about this post below. That will encourage me to tailor the content to your liking.

Moreover, do quiz me on your doubts regarding music and I shall try to answer them to the best of my ability. Do subscribe by entering your name and email address and you will be automatically updated with great music related content.

Dear friends and subscribers, till next time I wish you happy music!

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. That is very interesting, You are a very skilled blogger.
    I’ve joined your rss feed and stay up for in quest of extra of your great post.

    Also, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks

  2. Thank you, so grateful @ Varun Malhotra

  3. A great write up and timely too as my daughter looks to start her musical journey .. thank you

  4. Thank you Cynthia for your comment. I’m sure what you are doing helps a lot as music will increase the neuroplasticity of your brain and will help you overcome your disability to a great extent. The more you practice the easier it gets and you may feel suppler and quicker than before. All the best!

  5. This was very informative. I’ve taken piano lessons when I was younger, but my mild cerebral palsy made playing chords difficult. I can pick out a few tunes, but not enough to make a living.

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