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Do You Know Your "Why"?

Throughout my years of teaching music, I often felt an expectation from some of my students: That I should convince them of why they should be studying music.

Why learn? Why practice? Why bother with any of it when there are much easier things to do?

None of these students ever voiced this expectation outright. It was made clear by their palpable lack of interest, and in their resistance to practicing and being challenged.

As a result, I would offer a “musical sales pitch” to persuade them to recognize music’s beauty and potential value in their lives. But no matter how convincing I thought my argument was, it didn’t matter. Many of these students remained unconvinced and often didn’t stick with music.

This was, as I have come to realize, with good reason:

It was never my job to tell them why.

What I was ultimately doing was projecting my own reasons for pursuing music: It’s fun to be challenged, and satisfying to get better at something. There are so many interesting things to learn, and opportunities for discipline and growth. It’s a wonderful avenue for self-expression.

But these reasons didn’t resonate with those students because they weren’t their own.

Everybody’s reason for making music is different, and no one can tell you what your reason is. That is something you have to figure out for yourself. Take the time to think about and understand why you feel inclined to learn an instrument or how to sing, or to write songs.

Maybe, like me, you will realize that music is your calling and it shapes a large portion of your life. Perhaps it’s a way to connect with a friend or family member, or you simply enjoy learning a new skill. You might even realize music is simply not for you; that your “why” is not rooted in something deep enough to make you want to put time and effort into it. This is essential to recognize and acknowledge. Accepting this will leave you free to pursue another hobby or interest, one you may feel more resonance with.

Whatever the answer may be, it’s worth taking the time to explore what your “why” is. This is especially important before you make any kind of commitment to music, like enrolling in lessons. Having a clear answer will help you find music’s place in your life, and will allow you to confidently make choices that will move you through your journey.


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