It is often said that students who play an instrument in school are considered to be more advanced in their general learning due to the multiple skills required to play an instrument even to a reasonably high standard.
Aside from the musical and artistic benefits, which are without question, there is another skill and that is the ability to multi-task.
Music is by no means unique in this skill, but when frustration shows itself in a practice session, the understanding of both the multi-task issue and indeed what the individual tasks are, will hugely increase the musician’s effectiveness in practice.
I would like to use the analogy of a very powerful electronic thick cable, within which lies lots of smaller wires each carrying equally vital and important messages or signals from the power source to the piece of electronic equipment. Should one of the wires be less than 100% in working order, the equipment will at best work with serious flaws.
Each of those wires equate to the skills needed to play and with constant heightened awareness to address at any moment, loss of connection in the areas of:
-Tone quality and tone production
-Accuracy in areas of notes, rhythm, phrasing and dynamics
-Communication and interpretation
-The ever-critical distraction issue
-Keeping the focus in what might feel a hostile environment
-When we are performing with another musician(s), the listening, counting and flexibility to accommodate others.
This is quite a list but each element is critical and indeed crucial to the successful and effective delivery of our mission, which is to perform the piece entrusted in our care with conviction, confidence, fluency and faithfulness to the composer’s intentions. But like the technician, we have to be constantly aware that all our wires are regularly checked and in full working order.