Instruments of choice

Several years ago I tried to teach myself to play the guitar.  I got good enough that I could strum my way through a few songs, but I couldn’t ever really make sense of the chords, so eventually I stopped playing.  I’d learned to read music as a child playing wind instruments, but you can’t play a chord on a wind instrument so that didn’t help much.  I understood the idea, but I couldn’t figure out how to include it in my playing.

I’ve recently started teaching myself to play the piano, and I’m finding that on the piano, unlike the guitar, I seem to know what to expect from various phrases and combinations of notes.  It’s not anything I’m understanding consciously.  It’s something about the way my ear and my hands are interacting with the keyboard.

This experience makes me think that it may be the wiring of particular minds that make them more or less compatible with different musical instruments (and other things too, of course).  So when kids are begging to play something that seems too hard, or seems otherwise like a bad idea, it might be worth entertaining the possibility of that specific instrument.  You don’t have to buy one, and it’s probably a good idea not to get too attached to their playing it because it might take trying a few instruments before they find the one (if there is one) that makes the best use of the way they think, what they like the sound of, etc.  As with the pairing of any complicated organisms and objects, finding the right fit can take some trial and error…

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