Keeping mentally healthy is just as important as staying physically healthy, especially in these challenging times. We caught up with three of our musicians to find out why learning an instrument is good for your health and happiness.
Getting involved in the arts is enjoyable and provides a sense of achievement and distraction from everyday worries. Healthway’s Act-Belong-Commit message showcases the importance of participating in activities that provide you with a sense of belonging and purpose to assist with good mental health, including learning an instrument.
Many of our WASO musicians teach music when they’re not on stage at Perth Concert Hall and have experienced first hand the changes in their students through the learning process.
Jane Serrangeli, Violin
The majority of Jane’s students work in professions other than music or are retired, however all of them play or have played in community orchestras. She also teaches one school student who proudly leads his school orchestra and combines classical violin with playing guitar in a rock band, “My students love the connection to the music community, playing great works of music and are proud to perform for family and friends.”
The social aspect is clearly important to each student’s wellbeing, as is being involved in something bigger than just playing at home, “For one lady I teach who is in her late seventies, she has made like-minded friends who are very valuable to her, especially since her husband died.”
For her part, Jane is inspired by the avid interest that her students show in her life as a WASO musician, the Orchestra itself and the joy they experience coming to WASO concerts, “It makes me happy to be able to help them get more from their orchestral rehearsals by suggesting better ways of doing things and pushing them to extend their musical boundaries.”
Zak Rowntree, Principal 2nd Violin
Zak teaches privately from home and normally has four to five students, usually teenagers however his current cohort includes a seven-year-old and a 20-year-old.
While Zak doesn’t know his students prior to teaching them, the desire to learn is a big contributor to their happiness, “It is much more rewarding for me and my students if they actually want to learn the violin; I’m sure all teachers have experienced students that have come to lessons because their parents told them to learn.” In those cases, Zak tries his best to convert them, “I hope to make lessons engaging enough that they want to learn for themselves. It doesn’t always work, but I will always try!”
For all students Zak says it is essential for their musical happiness and development that they have a chance to play socially - in chamber music or orchestras, “The experience of working with others to produce something beautiful is so important, and can’t be achieved on your own in a practice room.”
Zak often teaches students whose main interest has been outside of music, “They enjoy playing as a balance to their main focus, whether it is as a break to science-based subjects, or an escape from constant sport training sessions.”
Kierstan Arkleysmith, Viola
Kierstan teaches viola for years 7-12 as part of the WA Department of Education’s Instrumental Music Program. This program provides free instrumental lessons to students who are selected on the basis of musical aptitude tests.
For Kierstan teaching is an important part of her life and making sure it is enjoyable for her students is a focus as well as technique, “Observing the different ways music becomes an integral part of an adolescent’s life and being part of that journey is an honour. I am witness to both the social interactions and the sense of autonomy that music offers these students. I have happy and resilient students and I believe that learning music plays an important role in the development of these traits.”
Healthway promote the Act-Belong-Commit message and are proud supporters of WASO's suite of Community Outreach programs including Connect Open Rehearsals, Music for the Ages and Harmony Music.