I have an admission — when I was much younger, I was lazy, directionless and unreliable. All I would do all day is eat, sleep, play video games and then repeat the cycle on a daily basis.
But then I discovered music…
While in my junior year of high school, a friend turned me onto Led Zeppelin. 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 opening chords of “Good Times, Bad Times”; I had never heard anything so powerful and raunchy.
It was a “eureka” moment for me — I knew from that moment forward exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to become a great guitarist like my new hero, Jimmy Page!
I was so infatuated with becoming a great guitarist that for 5 years straight, I would practice my guitar 5 hours per day, 7 days per week; almost 10,000 hours of practice time. 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, 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 a successful professional career.
As it turns out, stories like mine are hardly unique. Scientific research suggests that learning how to play an instrument is one of the most effective ways to improve the cognitive powers of the mind. A widely viewed TED Ed video entitled “How Playing An Instrument Benefits Your Brain” states that:
“Playing a musical instrument engages practically every area of the brain at once, especially the visual, auditory, and motor cortices.
As with any other workout, disciplined, structured practice in playing music strengthens those brain functions, allowing us to apply that strength to other activities.”
So there you have it — if you’re a serious musician who’s developed your musicianship to a very high level, you’re probably a lot more disciplined and mentally quick than most people.
And if you’re considering learning how to play an instrument, you’ll soon realize the benefits of a musical education on your personal development, self-discipline and self-esteem if you stick with it and become accomplished at it.