Recently I discussed four simple reasons your child should study music. Really at least three of those four reasons apply not just to children, but everyone. Music education is not just for children, it’s for everyone! Because music is a necessary part of human existence.
Here are four practical reasons why everyone should study music:
1. Problem Solving Skills
The ability to hear something (in this case melody, chords, and rhythm) and find the corresponding mathematical musical equation for it: notation, fingering, or how to play it is no easy task. To do this requires a deep kind of problem solving thinking that often involves at least three different planes (musical alphabet and rhythm, fingering of the instrument, and pitch/rhythm recognition).
Just recently, a trumpet student that had just begun her journey on the trumpet came in to a lesson excited about how she learned to play something on the horn she had heard on TV. She was right to be excited. This was like a serious algebra problem that she had just solved! Only much more fun.
This kind of problem solving will develop and will continue to serve you even when there is no music. In fact, recent studies prove that even just a few years of musical study will benefit you mentally into your later years. Of course, life is so much more fun with music.
2. Community Service
We value community, and we hope you do to. Music is not just a commodity. This is not to say that it is not valuable or worth being purchased. It most certainly is, see #3 for more on this. But music has significant value in service to community, and every community has significant needs for music.
Consider just some important and fruitful ways you can serve existing needs in your community through music:
- Busking: Making melody and singing songs for the people of the city as they busy about their day. This can be done as a gift, but often people will also pay you for it, especially if they value what you are offering (again, refer to #3 for more).
- Making music for the elderly: Retirement homes and nursing homes are filled with elderly people who need love and who love music. Studies have repeatedly shown the psychological, emotional, physical, and even spiritual value of providing music to the elderly.
- Funeral honors: as a bugler for six years in the US Army, I can tell you that playing funeral honors (Taps) for fallen soldiers and veterans that breathed their last breath were some of the most memorable notes that I played. Sadly, regardless of your position on our military campaigns, because of military cutbacks not every veteran funeral gets a live bugler, and they deserve that honor whether we agree with the military campaign or not. Some families must settle for a digital bugle (a recording played through a fake trumpet).
- Serving through music in a local church: churches everywhere are in need of musicians that share their beliefs and values to make beautiful music.
3. A Viable Vocational Skill
While making music can be a full-time vocational career, perhaps in a symphony orchestra, or as a recording artist, not everyone will choose this path. And we wouldn’t want anyone to think these are the only options or the only fun ones! Many musicians have chosen to make music their vocation as a military bandsman (each branch of the US military has their own full-time bands). Schools need band directors, recording studios need recording techs, music stores and bands need instrument repair technicians. There are many, many more options.
Music education is a fun and rewarding field, and you can choose to teach music for an institution or school; elementary, high school, or college, or as private musician-educator. We’ve been doing this for fifteen years.
Some will choose music as a supplemental vocation, which can be quite rewarding. If you earn a living another way, you can be quite selective as to what you do with your music, and maybe you will chose to do more service through music than sale, that is up to you. Playing music for parties, local organizations, weddings, etc. can be fun and fruitful. And as mentioned before, busking is held in high esteem by many musicians all over the world. It can be fun, good for community, and many even make a decent supplemental or primary living from it.
4. A Healthy Outlet
So maybe you aren’t into football or racquetball. Maybe you don’t like golf. What will you do with your free time? I know what you are thinking. But everyone of us spends at least a little bit of time doing something to unwind. Music is healthy, safe, and rewarding as a creative outlet.
Music education: not just for children, it’s for you.
 Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence. “KurzweilAI | Accelerating Intelligence..” KurzweilAI Just a few years of early musical training benefits the brain later in life Comments. http://www.kurzweilai.net/just-a-few-years-of-early-musical-training-benefits-the-brain-later-in-life (accessed November 13, 2013).