Posted by Rei Murray on July 23, 2020
Making Music Now
We know that music helps us in many ways, from motivating us to get up and do our best, to comforting us in challenging times. Listening to recorded music by the artists and bands we love can help us feel empowered, give us courage, insights, and feelings of support. Making our own music can help us be creative, build connections, and help us understand ourselves and others.
During this time, a time when getting together to learn and play music is challenging, there are things we can do to continue to receive the benefits of music at home. The good news is, it’s easier than you might think. All you need is a willingness to try new things, some quality instruments, and a few good ideas.
As a parent, you might feel some anxiety about the prospect of making music with your children. That’s normal and it’s OK. Let’s set fears about making music aside for a moment and look at a few ways you can start to create musical experiences right away - without the need to “understand” music, notation, theory, terms, or anything about “formal” music education.
Here are three strategies you can use right now:
1. It’s your music and you are the boss of it.
Most of us are taught about music through the lens of what others have done before us. That’s fine, but it’s not the only way to learn and enjoy music making. You are always free to pick up an instrument and start making sounds. Yes, some of those sounds may be surprising and not what you are planning to hear. That’s OK. Give yourself the permission and the freedom to not know. It’s OK. You and your child can explore “playing with sound” in any and all ways that you choose. You are the boss of the music you make.
2. Learn as you play.
You are your own best teacher and you have enough time to learn. It’s OK to not play instruments in traditional or formal ways. You can work towards that goal while exploring different sounds and ways of playing. As you explore an instrument, you will get feedback. The instrument will guide you towards the sounds that you find most pleasing. We all create a relationship with music in much the same way as we create personal relationships, by spending time, being curious, being accepting, and doing our best. If you do those things, you will have a positive relationship with music. Trust in yourself and the process of learning.
3. Make as much music as you want.
When you think about it, a typical song is made up of many pieces of music: words, melody, rhythm, harmony, and form. That’s a lot. What if you took up one of those elements and spent some time playing with it? For example: Take the words to a song and “play with them.” Leave the other elements for later and spend some time exploring only the lyrics until you are comfortable. Spend time with the other elements, one by one, until you can combine two of them, such as words and rhythm or words and melody. There is no rule that says music is an all-or-nothing activity. Play what you can and enjoy the experience. All parts of a piece of music are made of music.
I know that when I have an instrument that sounds great, it inspires me to play more, practice more, spend more time in music. Do your best to get instruments that will “pull you” into music and inspire you year after year. Quality instruments make quality sounds - and that makes any musical experience a better one.
- Kalani Das, MT-BC