Music for Life Skills

When I was studying music at school in the UK in the 1980s (I took music at O- and A-Level, in addition to studying the piano privately), I was often the butt of jokes that I had “taken the easy option”. Sadly, the perception that music is a “soft subject” persists today, an attitude which has contributed to the decline in music provision within the UK education system as successive governments obsess over the value of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). This narrow-minded attitude to music (and indeed the arts in general) overlooks or deliberately ignores its value, in particular of learning a musical instrument and engaging in musical activities, which can build essential skills that are valuable in many aspects of life. From discipline and perseverance to creativity and teamwork, here’s how learning a musical instrument can contribute to personal development and success.

Girl playing the clarinet

© Alexander Grey/Unsplash


– Learning a musical instrument requires regular practice and dedication.

– Students commit time and effort to hone their skills, encouraging discipline.

– Consistency and dedication in music practice translate into success in other areas of life.

LIFE SKILL: the importance of committing oneself to a task/s


– Mastering a musical instrument involves overcoming obstacles and pushing through difficulties.

– Students learn to persevere in the face of challenges, fostering resilience.

LIFE SKILL: The “never give up” attitude cultivated through music lessons applies to overcoming obstacles in various life situations.


– Music education promotes exploration of interpretation, expression, and composition.

– Students are encouraged to explore their creativity through improvisation and experimentation.

LIFE SKILL: Creative thinking and problem-solving skills which can be applied across many different domains.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Sonata No. 16 in C Major, K. 545 – I. Allegro (Jenő Jandó, piano)


– Collaborative musical endeavours, such as playing in a band or orchestra, require cooperation and a willingness to work with other people.

– Students learn to listen to others, synchronize efforts, and work towards common goals.

LIFE SKILL: Teamwork, cooperation, and collaboration with others.

Public speaking

Self-Expression and Confidence

– Learning to play an instrument allows individuals to express themselves uniquely.

– As proficiency and confidence in musical abilities grow, individuals develop greater self-assurance.

LIFE SKILL: Increased confidence positively impacts social interactions and pursuits beyond music, such as public speaking.

In addition to these most obvious skills, music also fosters flexibility, multi-tasking, time management, resilience, patience, self-control, goal setting, leadership, responsibility…. All crucial life skills for adulthood, both within a professional setting and in life in general.

Don’t underestimate the huge value of music. And never tell a musician that they took “the easy option”!

Max Richter: The New Four Seasons (after A. Vivaldi) – Spring 1 (Elena Urioste, violin; Chineke! Orchestra; Max Richter, electronics)

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