The cello has reinvigorated Ian Stuarts’ passion for playing a musical instrument. (Leah Blain photo)

Column: Playing a musical instrument rewarding at any age

Friends and Neighbours by Lean Blain

By Leah Blain


Whether it was the radio or his father playing the saxophone, music was a part of everyday life for Ian Stuart growing up in Ontario.

“My father was in an orchestra; he was always practising. He played all the old standards from the 40s and 50s. Music was always playing in our house,” said Stuart.

While his older siblings listened to ’70s music, Ian was more into the ’80s and, as he grew older, his guitar took him down a different path.

“I played acoustic guitar for a number of years in a bluegrass group and then I got out of playing music for about 10-15 years.”

Stuart would return to music after a visit to Vancouver where he heard a solo cello performance by one of the cellists from the Vancouver symphony.

“The sound of the cello – that’s what drew me back to music.”

So, for the first time since grade school, Stuart had to get back into the routine of music lessons (from Barb Ennis) and practice (the Suzuki method). He practises at least one hour a day but, far from being a chore, this time is enjoyable and offers him a kind of mental relaxation.

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“I work as a network administrator. Having music as an interest uses the other part of the brain” Stuart explained. “You use one side for logic and the other is more creative. Even listening to music stimulates a different part of the brain.

“You’re clearing your mind and not thinking of the stuff you didn’t get done today or have to do tomorrow.”

Although Stuart still enjoys listening to all genres of music, his new favourites are Bach minuets and Vivaldi’s sonatas.

“And I like Robert Schumann’s Traumerei a lot. It was made for piano but transposed for cello. That’s one of my favourites.”

Learning an instrument is a rewarding hobby, said Stuart, for anyone at any age.

“At any age you can develop technique,” said Stuart. “You have to put time into it and have some dedication or it won’t reward you.

“No one should shy away from playing because you don’t think you can be good at it. You can learn at any age.”

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