An Instrumental New Hobby

During self-isolation, some students picked up a new musical hobby to help cope with being stuck inside.

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photo by Gracie Kate

Gracie Kate has enjoyed playing the banjo while self-quarantining.

Lorenzo Zottoli, Staff Writer

In times of stress, teens commonly turn to many different outlets—some athletic and some artistic. The ongoing pandemic has left kids, teens, and adults isolated with nothing to do. Health experts have concluded that learning a new instrument is actually beneficial to the mental health of an individual. Going through stressful times where the norm has completely changed, now more than ever is a good time to pick up a new skill.

Learning a new instrument over quarantine has helped Sadie Jeter, a sophomore at Virginia Tech, focus while working in her dorm.

I learned something so fun in such a depressing atmosphere.”

— Sadie Jeter

“Whenever I would get distracted or even stressed about online school, I took out my phone and searched up a video and started playing,” Jeter said. “I truly think it helped me stay focused. Learning the guitar was so fun in such a depressing atmosphere.”

Playing an instrument and learning how to read sheet music has more benefits than it may seem. Having the skill to read and learn music has had research show it can actually improve overall memory. Some students have also said it has helped them destress after long days of studying and working, helping simmer down any anxiety they may have. 

For instance, Learning to play the piano over quarantine has helped NASH junior Dillon Ferraro relax after her long days.

“One day, I kinda crashed from nerves and just sat down on the piano bench and played one of the little songs I did know—Mary Had a Little Lamb—and decompressed, Ferraro said. “Now, I’m not saying by playing that one little nursery rhyme that it just magically made me feel all better, but it for some reason helped me calm down.”

One of the most common reasons people play instruments is for the enjoyment of it. When you learn an instrument, you learn something that millions of other people know. It doesn’t matter what language you speak or where you are from, once you learn an instrument you are apart of that community. Around the world, all piano music is the same, all guitar music is the same, and all music for each instrument is the same. 

Learning an instrument has helped Gracie Kate, a junior at Pagosa Springs High School in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, connect with hundreds of people all around the world.

One day, I was at a yard sale with my mom and I found this big old banjo and fell in love right away.”

— Gracie Kate

“One morning my mom and I set off on our 14-day hike around Boulder, Colorado and I decided to bring my unused banjo with me,” Kate said. “Although at the time, I did not know how to play too many songs or even a chord, we ran into so many different people on the trail who were more than happy to sit down with me for a minute and teach me how to play.”

Learning a new instrument can be a daunting task at a first glance, but with time and perseverance you can open up a whole new world. Not only just helping improve your memory or help ease any nervousness, but being able to connect with more people who you never would have before.