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Feb 8, 2010

Locate your inner musician

If you've been meaning to learn a musical instrument for a while, sort it out tonight. Take the time that you'd set aside to watch The Biggest Loser: Couples to advance your musical education instead.


I got my first guitar for Christmas 10 years ago. You know the kind, a cheesy Allans acoustic guitar that you could imagine Fraulein Maria pulling out to teach the kids Do Re Mi. I’ve only started playing it properly now.

If you’ve been meaning to learn a musical instrument for a while, here’s my suggestion, sort it out tonight. Take the time that you’d set aside to watch The Biggest Loser: Couples to advance your musical education instead.

And if I can offer one piece of advice from a decade’s procrastination it’s this: the self-taught method is for fools and geniuses. Find a teacher.

I tried learning with a guitar book and look, my Clair de Lune is pretty good, but guitar chords totally stumped me. I also attempted the YouTube method with the well-worn mantra: it’s free, they’re experts, how hard can it be. But when More than Words proved too difficult to learn from video — and believe me, it wasn’t due to lack of motivation — I figured it was time to get traditional.

Now I have a teacher, I actually seem to be progressing. Having a regular lesson feels a bit like you’re back in high school, but the really good class that you always looked forward to. It’s also great therapy, and as good for your brain as that thing Olivia Newton-John keeps flogging from the back of her chauffeur-driven car.

The details: How do you get a teacher?, run by the Music Council of Australia, has a good list of resources for finding a music teacher in Australia. But the best way to find someone is usually word of mouth.

And if you’re stumped as to which instrument is your thing, there are lots of dubious musical personality quizzes online as well as this round-up of the top 10 instruments for beginners — apparently the harp is a goer.

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4 thoughts on “Locate your inner musician

  1. Charles Richardson

    Great piece, Jane. Unfortunately the email left your name off – I had to go to the website to find out who wrote it.

  2. Jane Nethercote

    Thanks Charles. I forgot to put my name on! Do you play a musical instrument?

  3. Mike Jones

    Jane, like so many of us, as teenager I pissfarted around with an old guitar (an F-Slot Cello of indeterminate brand) my cousin gave me. The neck was so curved, someone more talented than me could have played it around a corner. The strings were so old and rusty they were a tetanus hazard.

    I left home and it disappeared.

    And life moved on for forty years. My kids learnt violin, guitar, drums and singing.

    And now, my partner bought me a lovely entry level Maton and you’ve given me a little push.

    Good on you.

    Now to see if I can slowly learn to murder rockabilly tunes.

  4. Jane Nethercote

    Thanks for your note Mike. That’s great. If it helps, I can tell you that a few lessons in, it’s like I’ve tapped into a new wellspring of fun. And I’m nearing the moment where I’ll get to start murdering a few songs myself. Let the slaying commence.