I have an admission — as young kid, I was a lazy and shiftless loser. All I would do all day is eat, sleep, play video games and then repeat the cycle on a daily basis. That is, until I discovered Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin!
You see, on my 13th birthday, a schoolmate of mine had given a CD of Led Zeppelin’s first album. Up until that time, I had no real interest in music, but my buddy — who was a Zeppelin freak — thought he could get me into some of his music.
I’ll never forget the moment I first listened to Jimmy Page rip into to those E-power chords in the opening of “Good Times, Bad Times”. Up until that time, I’d never heard anything so powerful and raunchy. It was a “eureka” moment for me — I knew from that moment exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to became a great guitarist like my new hero, Jimmy Page!
I was so infatuated with become a great rock guitarist that between the ages of 14 to 19, I would practice my guitar 5 hours per day, 7 days per week. My first goal was to be able to play like Jimmy Page. Once I was able to play Jimmy’s solos, my next goal was to be able to play like Eddie Van Halen. And once I was able to play Eddie’s solos, then my next goal was to be able to play like Yngwie Malmsteen. And once I was able to play Yngwie’s solos…Oh well, you get the idea…..
As you can see, every musical goal I was able to achieve led to me to a higher musical goal. And during this journey, I learned something about myself — I didn’t have to go through life being an aimless and shiftless slob. I could actually achieve lofty goals if I mustered the discipline and dedication I needed to achieve them. That is, the development of my musicianship prepared me for success in life.
The lessons I learned about achieving goals through guitar playing have been applied to other aspects of my life: through goal setting and discipline, I was able to obtain a university degree and start my own successful business.
As it turns out, stories like mine are hardly unique. Scientific research has concluded that learning how to play an instrument is one of the most effective ways to improve the cognitive powers of the mind. Check out this video from TED Ed:
So there you have it — if you’re a serious musician who’s developed your musicianship to a very high level, then you’re probably a lot smarter than most people!