In my professional capacity as a musician and music educator, I frequently have to lay down the law with my students or with myself about not practicing enough. The sense that I’m never quite good enough, and that it’s my own fault for not working harder, is a real professional hazard.
But when I meet people who aren’t professional musicians or serious music students, they often seem to feel the same way. They confess regrets about an instrument collecting dust in a closet, about not “sticking with it,” or about never learning to play at all. Sometimes they tell me how much they used to enjoy playing, but how some additional factor like music theory or stage fright or scales took the joy out of it.
I have to remember in those moments to keep some perspective. While my own musical goals demand serious daily work, lots of people find joy in dusting off an instrument once a month or once a year to play the same three songs again. Some people find certain aspects of a traditional music education boring. Some might play well, but aren’t interested in doing it front of an audience or a teacher.
And that’s okay! There’s lots of room for musicians of all levels and aspirations (or non-aspirations). And, of course, we professionals need a public that is enthusiastic about music, not guilt-ridden and regretful.
If you want to learn, it’s not too late. If you want to play or sing casually, you may. If you don’t want anyone to hear you, you don’t have to let them. Music should be fun for you.