Opinion: The fading art of creating music


Zach Plahn

Today’s society is less interested in making music and more interested in less important things. Credit: Lucy Knowles/The Foothill Dragon Press

Everyone can learn how to throw a baseball, run from base to base, and hit the ball as well. Not all of us can actually become great baseball players, but with enough effort and practice, we learn enough to enjoy the game.

The same goes for learning how to play an instrument, however, unlike people in today’s society who yearn to enjoy baseball, more and more people are shying away from the art and joy of making music. It is a true tragedy.

Ever since Thomas Edison’s phonograph, which gave the ability of listening to recorded music to the millions, the practice of music for leisure has drastically declined. I’m not talking about the kind of practice where you train your hardest to perform and make millions. I’m talking about simply learning to play an instrument, even at a mediocre level, so that not just the people around you can enjoy music, but you can enjoy it even more so.

 This may sound like one of those cheesy clichés, but like most clichés, it is true: it is one of the most gratifying feelings in life to be able to sit down, and create music with your own ability. We all appreciate music that we can buy on iTunes, and the professional quality that is produced by the artists, but we have become, to be completely frank, lazy when it comes to taking advantage of music for all that it is.

With music at our fingertips every second of the day, whether we are using the radio, an iPod, an iPhone, an mp3 Player, etc., it may at first appear on the surface that there is no reason for us to learn instruments since we are living in a technological age that unceasingly provides any tune we desire to listen to.

Music in itself is an art form that creates beauty. It allows us to express our emotions and feelings. When we don’t create our own music or when we neglect an artistic outlet, we are letting one of the greatest gifts on earth escape our use, only for the sake of convenience.

Listening to music and not creating it yourself is like going to a museum, admiring a painting, and then never even drawing a simple picture of anything when you return home. Why would you create your own art, when you can admire others’? Well, because you’re you. Others may not be able to understand what you’re feeling, what you are trying to portray, or even appreciate what you have created, but you can, and with time, they, with time, will too.

Learning an instrument isn’t easy. Dedication, time, energy, and the sacrifice of other activities are all required in order to even become slightly legitimate at an instrument. You have to cut certain things out of your day in order to make room for it.

But then again, think about what you really spend your time doing during the day. How much time did you spend watching TV, on social networks, or even playing Flappy Bird? We think we don’t have time to commit towards creating music, but in reality, even though our lives seem utterly chaotic, we can always find time for music, even if it’s 20 minutes before bed. Trust me.

If you practice long enough, those 20-30 minute sessions start to add up drastically fast. I play both piano and guitar, and although I am extremely mediocre at both, creating my own music is one of the most rewarding experiences I have done.

You don’t have to be the next Mozart to know how to play the piano, and it’s totally fine if you’re not quite as good as Slash when it comes to guitar. You are you, and you can create an unfathomable work of art, and even though it may not be as complex or technically intricate as those you look up to, it is wonderful because you invested the time and you reaped the profits of your work.

Next time you’re sitting on your couch wondering what to do, sending out Snapchats to people you barely know, or scrolling through Instagram looking for a good time, put down the screen, and focus on learning how to play an instrument.

I can’t truly express or convey what it actually feels like to create music by yourself. It’s something you have to get up and try for yourself. Everyone can do it. But not everyone makes time for it.

What do you think?