By Conor Powers-Stout, senior, Digital Media Game Design

After having performed in orchestras, bands and ensembles for nearly 14 years and playing both violin and mandolin, conquering the journey of the treble clef and learning to perform confidently in front of crowds, what I’ve taken from all those experiences is that there’s always room for improvement no matter who you are. I’m one semester away from graduating with a B.S. in Game Design, and I can confidently argue that music has shaped my personality and flow in a positive way.

Being able to follow instructions is a universal skill that everyone needs, and reading sheet music has taught me that most. Performing in orchestras and bands has also taught me the importance of not stepping on anyone’s toes and to avoid being a show-off during group performances/group projects, which is essentially the basis of game design.

In music, sometimes a piece calls for 16 measures of rest while another section is at full forte (loud), but obeying that simple instruction means you understand the importance of following instruction. There will be a time to play and following instructions means you’ll be ready when your time comes.

Playing your part is useful when working in group projects, and knowing when to be silent and let others take over makes you a trustworthy team member that your peers and superiors will remember.

Because I’ve been classically trained, I’ve been taught to interpret everything literally and with no flair until I’ve reached the intended result, which is fine if my career path called for detailed schematics. However, having dipped my foot into the waters of a couple of bluegrass bands, being outside of my comfort zone helped (forced) me to perform under the pressure of having no instructions to follow and to be creative while following a basic chord structure. Being able to deviate from the norm and demonstrate the ideas inside your noggin’ aren’t completely useless, but it is pivotal to piquing the interest of potential employers or swinging an interview, which bluegrass has taught me well.

To conclude this rambling on my notions of the benefits of music: If you’ve ever had the desire to learn or continue playing music, take the time to learn an (or another) instrument and consider the benefits it could have in your life. Music may not have a place in everyone’s field of study, but there’s something about those mathematically calculated frequencies which make music work, and that sound can shift a brain’s perspective in ways people couldn’t imagine.