Learning music has taught me to work hard, over months and years; to concentrate; to improve my memory; to pay attention; to listen to others; to listen to myself; to wait when it is time to wait; to be ready when it is time to be ready; to appreciate quiet and silence; to find ways to overcome problems; to work with others; to take responsibility for my part; to be organised; to practise; to turn up on time; to overcome nerves; to be bold and brave; to be supportive; to discover I can achieve things I never thought I could; to be proud of myself.
I think those are pretty useful things, and not just for playing music. There must be many other ways of learning them, but somehow, music seems like a magic food that is full of all of these wonderful ingredients. And - it is fantastically good fun!
But no need to take my word for it.
Here is Nicola Benedetti on Desert Island Discs:
“...what El Sistema has demonstrated, is what we all know to be true, and what has been documented so many times, but for some reason is still not listened to, is that if you give children quality experience with great music, and a quality orchestral experience, and creative experience, not only will it allow them an insight into great art and great music, but it will affect every single part of their life, and that's from their communicative skills, [to] their social skills, their ability to work together, their ability to express themselves.”
“I would say, harking back to El Sistema, ... the discipline involved in learning to play an instrument is really second to none and ...I have a breeze in trying to apply that to anything else, because there are very few things that are going to be quite as challenging, in terms of discipline.”
And here are some quotes from parents of musical friends of mine:
“as his ability in music grows, his confidence.., self-esteem.., social skills improve..”“we never thought we'd be watching our child perform in public”
Let's give the last word to a very young musician coming off the stage after his first concert:
“That is the best thing I have ever done in my life”