Alright, so I’m pretty sure that everyone out there’s experienced those moments of ‘What if’s and ‘Should have’s in their lives:
-- ‘Man, I shouldn’t have stopped piano lessons’
-- ‘I wish my parents had made me learn swimming’
-- ‘Ooh look, cool!’
Yet, we – that is, us folks old enough to drive – shy away from learning new skills.
I had just graduated from wearing school uniforms when I started learning the violin. Everything was fine and dandy...until the semester started (gulp).
I had to work my weekly lessons and practice into my timetable. Worse still, I couldn’t practice at night because I kinda sounded like a dying cat and I really wanted my neighbours to still like me. This brings me to my first point: commitment.
In university, you are your own person for better or worse. There isn’t anyone to nag you into practicing, or ferry you to class. It also means working around project meetings, CCAs, classes, and the odd few hours you attempt to indulge in a social life.
If you are afraid of the commitment, go for something that doesn’t need constant practice to start with, such as drawing, painting, or even sewing. Yes, even all you people of the male persuasion! These also have the benefit of being less, ah, disruptive to society than a musical instrument. (Trust me when I say those movies are a lie, and just because you close your eyes and feel your violin doesn’t exactly mean you sound good. Or produce sounds anything like a violin for that matter.)
Another challenge I faced was the cost of picking up a new skill. A beginner violin set - complete with case and bow - costs around S$300. You can get a second-hand set for about half the price, and usually in pretty good condition - if you know what to look out for. And if you’re buying a violin second-hand, you should definitely ask to see the violin in person before any payment is made. There are also instrument rental services, in case you want to try the instrument before making the investment.
Unfortunately, lessons don’t come cheap either. Taught one-on-one, lessons can go up to $60/hour. (Tip: music schools are generally cheaper than finding a private teacher!) For a bargain, go for beginner group lessons at music schools. Talk to the schools or prospective teachers (regardless of what hobby you want to take up) before buying anything that will hurt your wallet!
Of course, if you want to do away with costs and finding extra time to practice your craft, you COULD also join a school club. They normally offer lessons at student-discounted rates, plus you get to make new friends you can say hi to around school. Given our great number of CCAs SMU boasts, you can learn a martial art, climbing, or some other useful skill you have always wanted to try! An obvious perk is that you can blend in with the freshies and share the humiliation experience with fellow newbies (heh). The best time to find out more would be during Vivace, our annual CCA Fair. If you missed that, just find the club's official email and just drop them a message.
What I am trying to say in a roundabout way is: Yes, that clichéd adage ‘It’s never too late’ is true. If you have always wanted to pick up a new skill, now is really the time. Bonding, free lessons, some cool skills and experiences to add to your résumé - there's no reason to NOT do it! It will require compromise and determination, but it will definitely be worth it.