According to author and musician Gayla M. Mills, music brings people together, it enhances the humdrum of daily living and playing it can benefit your life in many ways. Gayla is the featured author for December's Books & Brews. She recently spoke with WMRA’s Chris Boros who asked her to describe when music entered her life.
Gayla M. Mills: Well it was always important to me but I would say it took a back seat during my middle years and it’s been about fifteen years since I’ve returned to it.
WMRA: There is something really special about playing music – sitting down with a 6-string guitar and strumming some chords – it’s like this immediate stress relief. What would you say to someone to encourage them to pick up a musical instrument, what can this do for someone’s life?
GM: Music does a lot of things. It’s a multi-sensory experience. So if you’re listening to music it’s quite enjoyable but if you’re playing it your whole body is involved in playing the instrument. You’re feeling that vibration against your body. Your brain is fully engaged. Your ears are engaged. And on top of that you’re fully connected to the people you’re playing music with.
WMRA: What would you say to someone though that says “I’m too old to learn a musical instrument?”
GM: I interviewed a lot of people for the book and I’ve run into a lot of people as well in my own life and they’ve started music at all different phases of their lives. Some of them were in their 60s, 70s. I’ve heard people say they worried it would be too late and it just wasn’t. They just had to recalibrate what their goals were – they’re not going to get a Grammy award.
WMRA: Yeah it’s not just about releasing an album or like you said winning a Grammy. It can be a part of your life if you just know four chords.
GM: In fact after this event (Books & Brews), after the interview, there’s going to be a special presentation where some folks from JMU are going to be bringing Ukuleles and teaching people how to play chords. And by the end of the session they’re going to be playing songs together so they can see it in action.
WMRA: Would you encourage people to try to play in front of other people like at an open mic night or can someone get just as much pleasure going home after a hard day at work and just picking up their instrument and playing by themselves for themselves?
GM: So obviously people are going to have different personalities and they’re going to enjoy different things, but there is another option that you didn’t mention which is playing with other people. It’s a social occasion, you can learn things from each other; you can swap ideas. And then when you are actually managing to play a song and you’re clicking with the other person or people that’s just a really exciting and exhilarating moment that’s hard to duplicate on your own.