6 Ways a Musical Instrument Can Be The PERFECT Gift!
Let’s face it. Sometimes, giving a musical instrument as a Christmas gift can be a bummer. That expensive guitar or keyboard can lay dormant in the corner after the initial excitement wanes, and eventually end up for sale on Craigslist. But given the right circumstances, it can also be the best gift you can ever give anyone, especially a child! Here are a few reasons why a musical instrument can be the most rewarding and lasting gift you’ll ever give.
- Emotional Outlet
Playing a musical instrument is one of the most direct ways to express one’s emotions. And since music is the quickest way to touch another person’s emotions, it stands to reason. Certainly, there is a fair learning curve in the beginning, but once a minimum degree of proficiency is achieved, playing an instrument allows one to emote endlessly and freely. Those first three chords can open up a world of rock ‘n roll tunes!
- Learning Structure
Learning to read music and play an instrument requires a certain amount of discipline, and the ability to understand abstract structure and order. There’s a certain amount of “math-like” order to written music, and learning this new “language” can be a great way to instill mental discipline and challenge one’s brain to create new neural pathways. It’s also an incredible tool to help one learn to focus. Your kids may rebel at all the practice, but they will also learn that without practice, they will never reach a level where playing the music becomes its own reward. In other words – practice makes perfect!
- It’s Really Fun!
Now comes the best part…playing songs you know and love is just plain fun! Kids use popular music as a passport to being accepted socially and “fitting in.” And becoming a musician can really help boost one to an extra level of popularity and admiration. Plus, everyone wants to be a rock star, right? Playing music with your friends is a tremendous team-building experience, and certainly can keep kids away from the wrong kind of fun, right?
- No Regrets
Who hasn’t ever regretted not sticking with piano lessons? Of dropping out of band? Music is the perfect “self-gift” – that keeps on giving for the rest of your life. According to a 2009 Gallup Poll, 85 percent of Americans who don’t play a musical instrument now say that they wished that they did, or had stuck with it. Most children do better in class, and make more successful cultural and social bridges when they are engaged in music. But it’s never too late to learn! It’s certainly easier to learn an instrument when you’re young, but it still is a challenging and rewarding experience to do so when you are older. It helps with maintaining and building brain function, and can greatly reduce stress. Most importantly, it can expose you to a new and more exciting life with music in it, and you won’t ever regret it!
- Experiences Are More Rewarding Than Things
You may not retain an emotional connection to that shiny new car you bought 10 years ago, but you will remember that romantic trip you took to the south of France. Psychological research has shown us that experiences create a much more vivid emotional connection than buying an object. We’ve all felt this. Learning, creating and participating in music creates indelible memories and connections – ones that we will foster for the rest of our lives. Even playing music by yourself creates a endorphin-influenced emotional feedback loop that musicians find very rewarding.
- Don’t Buy Junk!
Giving a toy instrument, or a cheap, plastic, rip-off imitation will ensure an eventual trip to the trash. While you don’t need top-of-the-line professional gear, the instrument needs to be of sufficient quality so that it’s limitations don’t frustrate the learner. A good music shop can help you with this choice. Also, make the gift age and interest appropriate. While your child may want to start off on guitar, perhaps a smaller ukulele would be more appropriate and easier to learn as a first step. Also, don’t buy an oboe if your kid wants to play rock ‘n roll, and vice versa. You should be able to judge their potential interest based on their personality and habits.
See? Giving a musical instrument to another can be a magical and everlasting experience for both of you. You’re not only giving a physical gift, you’re opening a door to a new and exciting lifestyle that can last a lifetime. And by watching and listening to the progress as they learn the instrument, it becomes a richly rewarding experience for the gift-giver as well!
Good luck, and Merry Christmas!