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Up Beat - It’s Playtime...

Up Beat - It’s Playtime...

Winter beckons, and if the prospect of long nights by the fire leaves you cold, maybe it’s time to change the habits of a lifetime. Roger Moss suggests you might be surprised at the results...

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It’s that time again, when the nights draw in and you feel the urge to take up a hobby. Don’t want to collect weekly bubble packs of parts to assemble a scale model galleon, WWII Spitfire or radio-controlled Ferrari? Jigsaws, Scrabble, knitting, crochet, etc., not your thing? Don’t despair – if you’re a music fan then maybe there’s a more rewarding option which has been staring you in the face all along. I’m talking about not merely going out and watching others perform (always a great idea) but actually learning to play an instrument and making music of your own.

Sounds good? Well, not right away it won’t, obviously, but stick at it and before long it could begin to – at which point you’ll be off on the kind of journey which might just change your life. Or at the very least, ensure that you never need be bored again.

So, what style of music do you really love? If the answer is ‘classical’ then you’ll already be aware that classical musicians play written parts, which they sight-read from a musical score. If you believe you might possess the patience and self-discipline to master an instrument and sight-read, then I take my hat off to you, and point you in the direction of formal professional tuition, the route taken by most beginners (particularly French hopefuls, in all forms of music…). And should you aspire to playing modern jazz, then you can factor in improvisation to the list of abilities you’ll need to master.

If, on the other hand, you’re a long-term rock, blues or folk fan, then getting started and making music can be much less formal. Chances are you’ll already have a useful feel or instinct for your preferred style, and a leaning towards a particular instrument. Many great players regard themselves as self-taught, but you can bet that someone showed them the basics, so ask around – most people know someone who plays – and sooner or later you’ll find that someone who is happy to do the same for you. An experienced player can also help you choose a good quality instrument in your budget range, rather than having to struggle with something of poor quality and which is badly set up.

Even without this kind of support, though, there are other opportunities open to you which the rest of us never had when starting out. I’m talking about professional instruction on DVD or online (where you download lessons onto your PC or burn onto DVD). Bear in mind, though, that great players aren’t necessarily great teachers, so look around at free sample lessons on places like YouTube to find what works for you before signing up. So, what are the advantages? Well, you can play each lesson over and over, learning at your own pace and with no fear of the teacher getting impatient if something doesn’t go in right away. Professional tuition also ensures that you develop a good technique and avoid bad habits you’d otherwise struggle to unlearn later. Finally, you can move up to a higher level course if you wish, or something focused on a particular style which interests you. If that’s the case, then there are now teachers out there offering one-to-one sessions, working with you live over a Skype video connection.

Then what? Well, then you’re on your way, and the possibilities are up to you.