Many people have taken some form of music education in their lives – whether it was private lessons in childhood, orchestra in high school, or even community choir in adulthood. While not everyone will go on to become the next Norah Jones or Led Zeppelin, music lessons can enrich our everyday lives far beyond the walls of the practice room.
I grew up in suburban Colorado Springs, Colorado, came from a musical family, and did a wide variety of musical activities including studying the Suzuki violin method in elementary school and competing nationally in marching band in high school. Though I didn’t continue playing music with others after I graduated, I still find myself remembering lessons I learned from my music classes.
Even if you don’t pursue music professionally, you can look back on those important life skills and lessons, too! Here are six life skills that I carry with me from my days in music lessons and band classes.
6 Life Skills Music Taught Me
When you’re in a private music lesson, your music teacher is the one taking the “leadership” position. But what happens when you’re the leader of your own practicing, or the drum major of an entire marching band? One of the most exciting parts of learning an instrument is when you feel confident enough to help the less experienced members of your band, choir, or other music group.
Learning these leadership skills from your music teacher during the formative years of your life can make it easier to obtain and maintain leadership positions in the future. As an adult, you’ll need to be a leader often, such as being a role model for your children or setting a good example for the new employee your team has just hired. Remembering the leadership skills you learned during your days in the band room can help make it that much easier to lead people as an adult.
One of the most important lessons I learned as a music student was how to ensure that I and my peers sounded our best – without always asking for help from the teacher. Oftentimes, especially when we grew older, it was up to us to tune our instruments and play through our warmups together. We would also help the younger members of our section, which led to our entire band sounding all the better for it. Working together as a team and taking more responsibility for myself created a sense of accomplishment that I still carry with me today! I use that same sense of responsibility to get myself to work on time, take care of myself and my animals, complete personal projects, and give myself time to enjoy my hobbies.
I’ve never been the best at math. In fact, counting out rhythms was something that caused me anxiety when I first started learning about music in elementary school. But something I learned very quickly was that music isn’t music without rhythm – or, in other words, without math. Being able to understand rhythm in music can lead to further understanding of how to reason using numbers and math, something that I use every day in my adult life. If you want to dive further into this topic, Jake St. John has a great article exploring math in music.
Discipline & Self-Control
Every musician knows that the most important aspect of really understanding what you’re learning is by continuing to practice outside of your lessons or rehearsals. Doing so requires self-control and discipline, especially when it feels easier to set your instrument down for the night.
Setting goals for yourself and learning to grow from your mistakes can help you stay on-track and successful throughout your adulthood! When I’m practicing any new skill, I like to set small goals for myself – after all, even the greatest musicians started out as just beginners!
One of the most important skills I learned throughout my years in group music settings was how to work well with my peers, and how to come together to solve problems. Band classes and other musical ensembles help kids create beneficial relationships with their peers and teach them how to work in a group setting. Humans evolved to be social creatures, and these skills are important to learn while you’re young so you can enjoy a healthy work environment and healthy personal relationships as an adult.
The benefits of music lessons can also include lifelong friendships and improved social skills. I have a few friends from my days in the marching band that I still maintain close ties to – nearly ten years after graduation!
Improved Mental Health
Learning a musical instrument as a child can help build self-confidence, and a confident child is more likely to become an emotionally healthy adult. Since so much of music is collaborative, your social skills can skyrocket as a result of being a member of a band, choir, or other musical ensemble.
Making music also engages your entire brain and, according to an article published by Harvard Medical School, “creates the most potential for distraction, pain reduction, cognition, fine and gross motor development, and expression.” This is such a confidence booster when it comes to personal growth, especially since learning a musical instrument is such a great creative outlet!
The Skills You Learned In The Band Room Can Help You Achieve As An Adult!
Learning musical skills during your formative years can lead to so many positive effects on your confidence, leadership skills, and even your mental health. Even if you don’t go on to play music professionally, you can still call on the life skills you learned in order to better yourself, your mind, and so much more!
Author: Marisa E. Cardin
Marisa E. Cardin is the Assistant Manager of Neighborhood Music in Aurora, Colorado. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Colorado in 2019. She is published in various magazines and chapbooks, including The Flagler Review and Perfume River Poetry. Most recently, she published her debut science-fiction novel, Jax Cassaway and The Shadow Runners, in early 2022. When she isn’t writing, she can be found jamming on her alto saxophone or cuddling her three cats. She currently lives in Aurora, Colorado.