Why We Should All Have Formal Music Education

One of the important things about being a Renaissance Human is being able to pursue learning on your own. Music is a field where this has become exceedingly common. There is a multitude of websites on the internet which provide unofficial interpretations and instructions on how to play a song on the guitar, bass guitar, harmonica, ukulele, drums, and the list goes on. I have benefited from many of these resources in my own pursuit of musicality, and I am happy with the result. That being said, I enjoy talking with people or collaborating with people in music if they have some formal background.

I was lucky enough to have a family which always enjoyed and valued music. At a young age it was not uncommon for my siblings and I to spend the evening dancing and singing while my dad played guitar. As we got older each of us enrolled in band at school and, at one point or another, took private music lessons. Aside from the academic and cognitive benefits of music education, I believe there are excellent cultural benefits as well. If you learn to play an instrument (and keep up with it), that is a skill you will have for the rest of your life to do with what you will. Whether you play for your own pleasure, find a group to play with, or perform in front of people all depends on what you want to do with your music. Since marching band, I haven’t played in front of a large group of people, but someone is bound to pull out an instrument of some sort at a family gathering. Music is always a good way to connect with people I love and haven’t seen for a while.

Not all music education has to be about learning an instrument or performance. I believe there is just as much to be said about taking a Jazz appreciation class as there is about taking an intro to piano class. When we engage in formal education about music, we are introduced to a way of talking about and experiencing music beyond the surface level of liking or disliking. Being able to talk about and appreciate music for which you don’t have a personal preference teaches understanding and tolerance. Plus, if you’re interested in dancing, having a base in the way music operates may help you catch on a little quicker, or give you a way to anticipate what might be a good next move based on what the music is doing.

Any way you slice it, music is an ever-present part of today’s society. Taking some time to learn some of the internal workings of music and how to talk about couldn’t hurt, and you know everybody always likes it when somebody can add a little life to a party by pulling out an instrument!


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