Playing music as an amateur

About the Author: Celine Gaurier-Joubert

Céline Gaurier-Joubert is a concert pianist and the founder of Paris Music Institute. Thanks to her unparalleled knowledge and experience, she has become a reference in the field of music education for adults.

The various aspects of the word "amateur"

If we refer to etymology, we find that the two words "amateur" and "aime" have the same origin, "amor". However, the term "amateur" adds an additional idea to the general term "aime," as being an amateur always indicates a specific preference that has become a sort of study.

It is worth noting that the noun "amateur" can sometimes be used in a pejorative sense, being associated with terms like "dilettante" or "fantasist" who lack competence.

Rather than taking the word "amateur" in its common sense, I invite you to return to its Latin origins to understand its original meaning and reflect on the values that drive the amateur.

An amateur is a person who engages in an activity outside of their professional sphere for pleasure, driven by passion, whether it be in the realms of art (music, painting, architecture...), sports, sciences, crafts, and more. The range of subjects is quite diverse.

Another point to mention is the difference between amateur and professional.
Two characteristics distinguish them, if we refer to the musical field, the professional is the one who lives from his artistic activity, while the amateur in general does not make any profit from it.
Another boundary separates them, and that is mostly a difference in technical and musical level, although the disinterested passion of the amateur can be a great asset.

The music

The word music has its origin in "musica" derived from Greek mythology where the Muse inspired the artist; after being the art of the Muses, it became "the art of combining sounds in a manner pleasing to the ear".

Even if its history does not begin until the Middle Ages with its notation, music has been present in all human societies since prehistoric times through songs, hand clapping, clapping or rubbing of stone or wood.
It is part of the rituals and celebrations, where everyone contributed without concern for quality or virtuosity but for sharing.

It is both a form of individual expression and a source of togetherness, it reinforces our moods, whether you are happy or sad, music will be there.

Even if it differs from one people to another, varies with the centuries, and can be found within the same society in learned, religious or popular music, music is a universal language that everyone can understand.

Music as a source of well-being

I invite you to read these three quotes about music, written by people from all walks of life.

"Music is the only true source of pleasure, life without music is simply a mistake, a fatigue, an exile.
Friedrich Nietzsche: 1844-1900 (German philologist-philosopher-poet)

"Music drives out hatred in those who are without love, it gives peace to those who are without rest, it consoles those who are crying.
Pablo Casals: 1876-1973 (Catalan cellist and conductor).

"Music helps us to build our spiritual lives, soothes us, comforts us, gives us joy, makes us cheerful, makes us sing, dance.
Eric Emmanuel Schmitt: 1860- (French-Belgian short story writer, novelist and director).

Through these three quotations, three essential ideas emerge: music soothes, consoles and brings pleasure.

Currently, the progress of science enables us to provide an explanation for what was previously only a sensation, as it has been established that listening to music provokes chemical reactions in our bodies.
Music has the power to reduce the level of cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress (it soothes), but also to release dopamine, a hormone that generates feelings of pleasure and strengthens motivation and stamina ("it comforts - gives joy - makes us cheerful" .....)

The scientific study of the neurochemical effects of music is still in its infancy, and new benefits of music will undoubtedly be revealed in the near future to our great delight.

Practising music as an amateur develops the mind and brightens life

According to statistical data, about one in four French people practice at least one performing art as an amateur, a significant percentage of whom play an instrument.

Playing music is an extremely beneficial activity, both for the body and mind and for socialisation.

Let's go over a few points in more detail:

As we have seen in the text entitled "Music as a Source of Well-being," listening to music results in a reduction in cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress, a scourge of our time. However, practicing music brings even greater benefits.
Indeed, this activity demands such concentration that it annihilates any other thought, transporting you to a different world, far away from stress.

Playing music enhances coordination between the brain, eyes, and hands. It develops motor skills, including coordination, dissociation, and fine motor skills.
It teaches discipline, develops concentration abilities, stimulates memory and imagination, sharpens listening skills, sparks creativity, unleashes emotions, improves confidence and self-esteem, while also opening up to history and culture.

Initially seen as a solitary pursuit, practicing music encourages socialisation as it is also an excellent means to connect with people who share the same passion.
Plus que cela, cette activité permet de jouer avec d’autres instrumentistes ( piano, instruments à cordes, à vent, chant ).
What a wonderful sensation it is to contribute to the interpretation of a piece, to modify, and improve one's performance through listening to others.
What joy it is to work on one's sheet music and then hear it blend with the other instruments!

To conclude, I would like to offer you two quotations, magnificent illustrations of this page.

The first by Georges Duhamel, taken from Musique consolatrice (1944).
Georges Duhamel: 1884 – 1966 (médecin, romancier, poète, auteur dramatique).

"When I think about the benefits of music, the richness it brings, the nobility it bestows, the emphasis it places on all our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, I am amazed that its instruction is not absolutely compulsory and extensively pursued everywhere, without exception."

The second by Paul Carvel, taken from Jets d'encre (2000).
Paul Carvel, born 1964 (Belgian writer and editor, to an Italian mother).

"Music deserves to be the second compulsory language in every school in the world."

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