Depending on your career, you may have a bit of extra free time this summer. If you’re a teacher, for example, you have a full two months. Even if you have to work straight through the summer, most office jobs are a bit more relaxed in July and August, with employees taking advantage of their vacation time. So why not do something constructive with your free time, in addition to drinking beer and watching baseball (also a good use of time!), why not learn a musical instrument?
While some people are naturally predisposed towards playing music, in the past it was much more expensive and difficult to learn how to play. The price point of instruments have been historically high right across the board, but in the past twenty years, manufacturers have started making more discount guitars, keyboards and drums to serve the growing number of amateurs looking for a hobby.
For example: you can buy a MIDI controller at Long &McQuade for just over a hundred dollars. A MIDI controller effectively makes use of your computer to provide the software (through programs like Logic or GarageBand), which is why the physical instrument can be purchased at such a low price.
Messing around in programs like GarageBand, you can trigger beats and just mash the keyboard. Even if you don’t have any training or musical theory, and even if it sounds terrible to your neighbours, you may end up jamming by yourself and having a great time – just consider getting yourself some headphones for those around you.
Seeking out music lessons in your area is probably the next step; not only will your teacher hold you accountable for weekly practice, it will also create a sense of community and human contact that will open up a bigger world and get you out of the house on a weekly basis. That said, if weekly music lessons are not in your budget, you could supplement a monthly music lesson with YouTube videos. One of the main reasons that learning an instrument is so much easier in the digital age is that there are a plethora of educational videos online for anyone who has an Internet connection and a bit of ambition.
Another common misconception is that to learn, you need to put in your 10,000 hours (à la Malcolm Gladwell) until you’re jamming out like Bill Murray at the end of Groundhog Day. Realistically, however, there’s a world of difference between competently strumming through a Tom Petty song and performing a Mozart piano concerto. Learning simple fifth and third chords on the piano and simple three-note leads is much easier than you would think. If you’re jamming with buddies and you want to hold down the rhythm with root notes on the bass, it’s incredibly simple.
So don’t be intimidated or overwhelmed by anyone who tells you it takes years of work to become a musician; if you’re just looking to learn some simple rock songs or participate in a jam session with your buddies, all you need is a cheap keyboard or a hand drum and a couple of lessons and online tutorials. Learning an instrument has never been easier, so don’t waste any more time, head down to your local music store today!