When you watch musicians perform, it can seem like they were born with the knowledge of knowing which notes to play while having perfect timing. But if you speak to music teachers, the real story behind a sublime performance boils down to one thing: practice.
Just ask Lily Chiam, accomplished musician and owner of Expression Music Academy. She’s spent years either competing or training others to compete. “Competing means you need to go out and perform a piece of two to three minutes, all by memory, and deliver it so well. To achieve that, you really must put in the hours,” she said.
Playing music has been proven not only to help our brains function better but also improve social skills and enhance therapy.
Studies have shown that playing musical instruments help hone fine motor skills – which is controlled by a section of your brain called the cerebellum. If you’re watching a guitarist perform, you’re watching the results of hours of practice just so that he can place his fingers on the right place and strum them at the right time; tasks which require specific movements of the fingers. Playing music has been proven not only to help our brains function better but also improve social skills and enhance therapy.
When a musician plays in a group, he must work together with other musicians to create harmonies, and that requires a lot of cooperation and understanding. If you’ve ever seen an improvised music session, musicians tend to ‘feel’ their way into a song and then magically gel together after a few minutes or even from the get go!
In the medical world, doctors have prescribed music therapy for patients with heart conditions, depression, Alzheimers, to help overcome their ailments.
Got sleep apnea?
Try the didgeridoo.
The Australian wind-instrument requires a technique called circular breathing which, coincidentally, helps improves sleep quality.
Suffering from a stammer?
Try playing music while reading out a speech.
Music makes a playground out of our brains, lighting up different parts and connecting dots like few others can. In Brunei, parents are now sending their kids for music classes to reap the brain juice benefits of music. On the other hand, music schools are bumping their courses by offering more variety in lessons and instruments.
Although music is not formally part of the national education curriculum, students in public schools still get opportunities to learn music. Primary, secondary and sometimes tertiary educational institutions offer music, or related subjects, as part of their co-curricular education (you can read more about this on pages 36-43).One important aspect of music that teachers recognise is its ability to motivate students to achieve their goals. When a person completely focuses on learning how to play a musical piece, he or she has successfully learned the importance of commitment and planning to achieve their desired objectives. When a musician prepares for a performance, they learn the value of poise and composure in front of an audience.
Sharon Jusay, who runs NeoClassic Music School, said that part of learning music is learning the art of performances. “It’s a great way to develop courage and improve your confidence. On top of that, it is also an exercise in learning to focus and makes for a brain booster activity for people of all ages,” she said.
Chris Tomas, manager of CVT Harmony Music School, sees music as a useful tool to help young people express themselves. “They learn to delay gratification, listen, cooperate and to be sensitive to their environment. By playing and writing music, they learn to express and manage their emotions better,” he said.
There’s no perfect time to start learning music but music teachers have recommended that earlier is better. According to Lily, the golden age starts at 2.5 years to five years old, when kids can get perfect pitch and a good sense of rhythm.
They learn to delay gratification, listen, cooperate and to be sensitive to their environment. By playing and writing music, they learn to express and manage their emotions better
So is music something that can be trained? Or is it the exclusive domain of those born with musically inclined abilities? The wisdom of teachers we spoke to tells us that its mostly about training. And while it’s true that there are some that are born with natural talents, it is the practice and training that make musicians great.
Expression Music Academy
Expression Music has been active in the Bruneian music scene since 1996. It offers graded music lessons for classical and modern musical instruments. They have special, or fast track, programmes for toddlers. They also have a presence in Singapore and the Philippines.
Offers classes for:
Piano, Violin, Voice, Guitar, Drums, Fast Track Theory
Expression Music Genius or EMG (for 3-4 year olds)
Expression Music Fun or EMF (for 4-5 year olds)
CVT Harmony Music School
Set up in 2012, you can find CVT Harmony Music School within the Scout’s Building in Mata-Mata. The school offers classical and modern musical instrument teaching and theory.
Offers classes for:
Piano, Violin, Guitar (electrical, classical, Bass), Drums, Voice, Woodwind instruments.
Music Theory and Kids Music Group
NeoClassic Music School
Founded in 2005, NeoClassic offers graded music lessons for most classical and modern musical instruments, and even Music Theory, Theatre and Ensembles from Preparatory to Diploma Level. On top of that they have special programmes for Kids and other music enthusiasts of all ages. The school is in a popular residential area of Jalan Gadong. Come in as an individual, or a group, and pursue music at your leisure or as a full-time student.
Offers classes for:
Piano, Keyboard, Singing, Violin, Viola, Cello, Drums, Guitar, Ukelele, Music Theatre (Singing, Acting and Dancing), Music Ensemble (Choir & Band), Music Theory.
Music for Little Mozarts (3 – 6 year olds)
Customised Music Programmes
Ear Training & Solfège