Let the Music Force Be With You
by Cynthia Hudson and Sean Donovan
We’re all guilty of it. We spend countless hours every day transfixed by our tiny phone screens, comparing our lives to other people on social media, and staying on top of a seemingly endless cycle of bad news. But imagine what could be accomplished if we put even a few of these idle hours towards a creative, mind-expanding activity?
Learning a musical instrument is a much better way to spend your free time. Taking up the guitar, piano, or any instrument, will instantly take your mind off the stresses of the world. There will be no time for anxiety when you’re devoting your energy to practicing, improving your technique, memorizing chords, learning to play your favorite songs, and discovering the ins and outs of music theory. Music is a bit like meditation, providing a similar feeling of calm and relief from stress, only instead of turning your mind off, music turns it all the way on.
Paul Bessolo has been giving the gift of music education to the Rye community for over 15 years. Rock Island Sound, his music school and instrument store located at 619 Milton Road, provides lessons for students of all ages and skill levels. “If music is your passion,” the store’s slogan says, “Rock Island Sound is your place.” In addition to lessons they also provide instrument sales, rentals and repairs. His store also has a large e-commerce presence, with successful stores on Amazon, Reverb, and eBay. They also have a YouTube channel that offers free introductory lessons on a wide range of musical subjects.
“I learned from a pretty early age the immense benefits that music has on your brain,” Bessolo says. In fact, music education is proven to sharpen your brain in many different areas. Studies have shown that musicians perform better on tests that measure attention span and are better at filtering out unimportant information when assigned a task. Imagine, then, the lifelong benefits for children who learn music, especially today when infinite shiny distractions are competing for their attention.
A recent USC study revealed that children who study music had measurable advantages in language development, reading skills, and sound processing compared to their non-musician peers. Music improves motor skills and it strengthens a child’s ability to memorize and retain information. The connection between music and math has long been established, and, indeed. children who study music perform better on algebra assessments than those who don’t.
“Another big thing music does is build self-confidence,” Bessolo tells us. “Every year I see our students’ self-esteem improve as they get better at their instruments.” Indeed, few things are more beneficial to success in life than self-confidence. Learning an instrument strengthens this by giving you a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. People will be impressed by your new musical superpower, which will further embolden you to keep going and get better and better.
The Argentine-born Bessolo was inspired by his dad, a pianist who would play every night after dinner. His house was filled with the sound of everything from classical music to tango to rock ‘n’ roll and it left a lasting impression. “I found my first true passion playing guitar at the age of 9, and then added piano a few years later,” he says. “Music has been the driving force in my life ever since.”