Learning music has positively influenced my life in so many ways.
In this article, I'm going to give you my perspective as both a violin player and teacher which has allowed me to see so many people's lives change for the good over the years. And ever since falling in love with music, I have never looked back.
1. Music is a Universal Language
With so many spoken languages in the world, it's refreshing to see music as one of the things that most people can understand and appreciate to some degree. If you put thousands of people of different cultures, ages, and race into a recital hall to listen to Joshua Bell perform, everyone would have a similar sense of the talent of music being showcased.
By the way, if you've never heard of Joshua Bell, he's only one of the best violin players in the world. :)
Check out this video of him playing one of the most famous concertos for the violin. A performance that truly touches my heart and my Grandfather's who you'll hear about here soon.
If you think of how much we as humans are so different in many ways (including needing a translator to communicate a universal message), it's pretty refreshing to know music is not just a language of one, but a language of many.
I can take my violin to any country of the world and play on the street corner, and people of all different varieties would be able to hear that music and understand it to some degree.
Using Music to Communicate
I'll tell you a story that hits on the phenomenon that music is a universal language. My grandfather who has been playing the violin now for 82 years (he's 92) doesn't speak a lick of English.
When I go over to his house, our verbal communication (my Spanglish), is nothing close to perfect. It has always restricted us from being able to communicate and relate verbally. This all changes when we both get our violins out and play. Here is a video of my Grandfather and I playing our violins together.
Over the years, we have communicated so well through musical understanding. We both appreciate challenging pieces, the art of mastering violin technique, or a student's struggle to practice.
We've had so many laughs and grins over the years when something isn't as easy to play as we would like it to be. I'm happy that even though I lost my Spanish speaking skills many years ago (it was my first language), I have at least been able to keep my violin playing skills, which I will always continue to refine.
I know nothing else but to continue to express myself with my violin and musical abilities. It's not just what I do, but a part of who I am as a person.
2. Learning music brings out human emotion
As a private teacher, I have seen so much excitement from people when it comes to learning music. It's been a remarkable spectacle. Even people that are somber, super shy, or have difficulty expressing themselves are forever changed by their undertaking of learning a musical instrument.
At one point, I had a violin studio filled with nurses, UPS drivers, teachers, college students, homeschool kids, retirees, and lawyers who all expressed some level of emotion throughout the process of learning violin. Let me tell you how this starts typically. Someone gets inspired to learn the violin by some concert they attended... Or maybe they've always wanted to learn the violin since they were a kid.
The thought of learning music tickles their soul, and you can hear it with how they sound on the phone inquiring about lessons. The positive emotion continues all the way through the first few lessons... Generally until they realize how challenging learning the violin can be. :)
Even as hard as learning the violin can be, it still brings out so much positive emotion in people. Learning violin can positively influence personality, motor skills and confidence. It's a lot of fun! I'm here to help and guide you along the journey if you'll let me!
How Learning Music Can Positively Shape Confidence
Let me tell you a story about one of my mentally challenged students I had a few years ago. His life drastically changed when he started learning violin. The boy had autism (I won't mention his name), and it seemed like nobody except his parents appreciated him for who he was.
According to his parents, he had trouble with confidence and anger in school before starting to learn violin. After just a few lessons, it's like an entirely new and different person came out of him - the person he was and wanted to be. The creative side of him was able to express himself freely, and it was like he was on a similar level to everyone else.
He even got competitive with learning violin as other "normal" kids would. This gave him tremendous confidence, and it was a beautiful thing to see as his teacher. Instead of throwing tantrums and being irritated all the time with the world, this boy had an outlet... Somewhere where he could show the world what he was capable of.
I still remember his first recital how happy and emotional he was to get up there and play. He even combed his hair...:) His parents were so proud of him, and it was amazing to see his progress, not just with learning music... But as a human being.
I'm not sure anything else could have done this for the boy other than finding his musical passion which in this case was the violin.
3. Learning music creates bonding opportunities
As a teacher, I encourage parent participation when it comes to children learning the violin. I feel it important for progress efficiency and has the bonus of creating bonding opportunities for parents and their kids.
I find that since I only have one day with a student per week (sometimes less), it is critical to have the parent's involvement at home. All it takes is the parent knowing what the student is working on most of the time, and what their goals are each week.
Here is a video of my student and her mom talking about their bonding and experiences with learning violin as a team. It seems that almost every situation where parents take the initiative to be a part of their child's music learning, they grow a bond and relationship stronger than ever before.
It's a beautiful thing to see especially when a parent was having trouble bonding with their child before undertaking violin. And bonding situations don't just happen to kids and their parents... I also have seen learning music positively influence a person's relationship with their spouse, friends and family members.
I even got the opportunity to be a part of a couple's joint lessons that eventually led to a marriage proposal! I'll have to tell you about that in detail sometime soon in another article. :)
4. Learning music leads to positive health
About 15 years ago, my Grandfather developed pretty severe arthritis and was going through a challenging time with my Grandmother's health diminishing. I remember before that my Grandfather would practice his violin two hours every day. It was like clockwork, 10-12AM every morning before grabbing his lunch.
My grandmother in the other room would always be watching TV; always appreciating her husband's talent. At that point, my Grandfather had been playing the violin for around 65 years. And because of the challenging time in his life, he decided to quit violin.
He even gave me his instrument. I couldn't believe this, as everyone that knew my Grandfather knew how much he loved his violin, and how much it was a part of his life.
How my Grandfather's Health Improved with Help of the Violin
After my Grandmother passed away (God bless her soul), my Grandfather's health seemed to deteriorate. He didn't take walks anymore... He didn't have that smile on his face he always used to have.
It didn't feel like he had many more years of his life left, and it was like he lost his purpose. Obviously, a big reason for this was losing his wife of over 50 years, but his decision to quit learning music also had a drastic impact.
I had to do something...
So I decided to convince him to get back into playing again. His life changed from that point forward. I know it might sound like bribery, but I convinced him to start playing by giving him one of my very lovely instruments. :)
It was like my Grandfather has something to live for. Being that I am my grandfather's only grandson (and a violinist), he wanted nothing more but to impress me and show what he was capable of and what he was practicing and working on.
Even with arthritis, he still practices his violin 2-4 hours per day! Talk about a rejuvenated hobby. Getting back into learning music has positively influenced my Grandfather's soul, his health, and his life. My Grandmother is positively smiling down.
Here's another video of my Grandfather playing the violin. Even though his fingers don't work the way they used to, his mind is as sharp as ever. And everyone in my family agrees getting him back into playing violin has had a ton to do him being a very happy (and healthy) 92 year old.
5. Learning music is fun
There are so many things I could say about how learning violin has made a positive influence on my student's lives as related to it being a fun and rewarding endeavor. I'm not going to lie, learning the violin is not easy... It's very challenging, but so are so many other things in life wouldn't you say? :)
There are technically over 30 fundamentals associated with the violin! Learn what they are here.
Having an outlet where people can sincerely express themselves, improve their skills and perform for others is one of the biggest "life-changers" that people can experience.
When someone starts off as a violin "hacker" and later progresses into a new confident territory of being able to do things like playing in an orchestra... Or being able to play a particular song they've dreamed of always being able to play...
They become addicted to continuing to want to play and progress which is fun to watch and experience.
Always Strive to Make Learning Music Fun
One of the things I encourage with my private students is to not only practice and improve on the violin but also to get involved with playing violin in any other way they feel comfortable with.
This makes the progress of learning music even more fun! So to help, I decided to create adult groups consisting of other students at similar ability levels in my studio. It turned out to be very popular and life-changing for people.
Many of these people who would come to the adult groups turned into "die-hard" violin players. The attendance for the weekly ensembles was almost perfect. People were able to bond, have fun, and "hack" at the violin together. :)
This made learning music for my students a lot of fun. This is my core program associated with learning violin which includes the elements of community and quality instruction that I've seen first hand inspire students significantly. It's motivating when you learn violin the right way and have the community aspect to go with it that makes learning inspirational and progressive.
There is something about people being at the same level with playing music that creates an immense interest in progressing and learning. As a teacher, encouragement, and passion is something I'm always trying to facilitate.
The adult groups were so much fun - even my Grandfather came to some of them. :) And just to let you know, I believe learning not just violin is fun, but other musical instruments as well.
Learning Violin is Fun at All Ages
If you've always wanted to learn a musical instrument but just haven't taken steps to do so yet... I highly encourage you to take action before your life passes you by.
Can you believe 35% of my 80 private students I had three years ago were adult beginners over age 60? Here is a good video I put together on the topic "Is it Too Late to Learn Violin?" which will inspire you if you are held back to start because of anything related to your age.
Not a legitimate excuse - trust me!
The video will include everything you'll want to know to get started. The second most prominent excuse that I hear related to starting a musical instrument (after age) is time... But would you ever make that excuse when it comes to brushing your teeth, eating or sleeping? Maybe you would but you shouldn't! :)
Learning music doesn't have to include hours and hours of practice... It just needs to include a passion, goal, and spare time. Taking the steps could be the best thing that ever happened to you. It's been that way for so many of my students and followers, and it could be for you as well. Hope this article motivated and encouraged you in some way!
At a minimum, you will hopefully look at music in a different way than you did before. :)