For many of us here, music is something we enjoy and have had as an important part of our lives since we were very young. I am no different in this regard. I've played piano, clarinet, trumpet, bass clarinet, and guitar (my main focus now) since I was a little boy and my Itunes library is constantly blaring out any and all tracks all day long. Music has always been something I love, but I believe there is a critical flaw in learning modern music today.
I started playing musical instruments around 7 years old and I started on none other than the piano. At the time I was just so eager to learn that everything seemed so fantastic. I was placed in the Royal Conservatory Of Music for classical music and as a young boy this meant nothing to me other than playing the black dots on the page after my teacher would show me readily what to do. I did later on find out that completing the RCM up to grade 7 and 8 would benefit me with 2 high school credits from my mother but even knowing this, I lost more than I gained in my experience on piano.
My piano experience has always left me conflicted even up until this day. As I stated, I loved it at first, but after getting through the early grades where every pupil learning an instrument is rewarded with extremely high "practical" playing exam marks that make them feel they are extremely talented, reality for most begins to set in, and it takes it's toll quickly.
It actually took me over 6 years to come to the realization that I did not enjoy playing piano and that my talent was much less than I thought. However, as contradictory as it sounds, I did not stop enjoying piano because of piano itself. I stopped enjoying it because of the fact that I would be investing a full year, sometimes more, in learning a select few songs as best as I can to only have my sense of accomplishment dashed by a hardcore piano examiner telling me I did not play half or more of the pieces particularly well. It started off as a few marks off here and there with a few suggestions, all the way up until the point where I stopped caring to practice and as a result received some songs I would "fail" on when I played them at an exam.
I quit playing piano a year and a half ago, halfway through RCM 9 and to be honest, I never really have gone back to it since even recreationally. I had my credits, and I was sick of playing to impress a judge instead of playing for myself. I didn't need anyone to tell me how to play the instrument of my choice and I definitely did not feel I needed to put up with practicing songs with the end goal of getting a numerical grade that was deemed worthy of "Honours" or "First Class Honors".
Don't get me wrong, the piano is a fabulous instrument and classical music and all that are great. I love listening to it, but I love playing my guitar now. Not because of the guitar itself, but because with guitar, I made sure I was going into it playing for me, and I've found much pleasure in approaching music this way since. I probably will go back to piano later on in life, but for now, that instrument is something I will always love to listen to from time to time, but not something I really feel compelled to touch anymore. The musical passion for the instrument has been literally sucked out for me since for so long I was feeling the constant pressure of being tested and not playing songs I particularly enjoyed or cared for after a while because of this.
This may all sound like story, but I will wrap this up with a concise view of my point if my life experience described here has had little impact. Being tested on how music "should be played" and having these so called practical examinations takes music in the wrong direction. It teaches many (not all) people to play music for some sort of credit or some sort of approval, instead of just playing music for fun with people around singing along and whatnot, ignoring any minor mistakes being made (and even major ones if people sing loud enough!). Music is more enjoyable and always more "practical" when the only examiner of your musical ability, is yourself.