There are many reasons people start playing an instrument and continue playing it. The following list contains as many as I can think of at the moment. To be clear, these are not necessarily reasons to habitually practice music; that will be the subject of an article follow. Also, some of these reasons are obviously more applicable to individuals in certain age groups than others: 1) acceptance/approval from “known” others (parents/friends/relatives), 2) admiration from “unknown” others (desire to be known and recognized by a large group of people), 3) material rewards (money and associated benefits, or the dream of acquiring such), 4) sense of achievement, 5) feelings of self-worth, 6) positive feelings resulting from personal success, 7) enjoyment from the physical activity and simply having a hobby, 8) parental coercion, 9) perceived mental and physical health benefits, 10) love of music itself, along with the desire to participate in the process of making music.
How many of these reasons to play an instrument will result in true enjoyment of the activity over a long period of time? As far as I can tell, based on my own observations from 23 years of teaching, only one of them will do such a thing. Can you guess which one it is? Of course, it is the last one. Only the love of music in general, or the love of particular music (including particular styles, artists and pieces or songs) will motivate people to continue wanting to play their instrument for years, decades, and even a lifetime. However, as a teacher, I am certainly willing to work with any student that finds himself/herself in the position of being motivated for any of the other reasons listed above. Still, I always try to instill the love of music itself in all my students and encourage them to find the particular music they are most interested in to allow that to become their primary source of motivation to continue playing. Then, I encourage them to practice as much as they can to gain as much enjoyment as they can, which comes through the success they experience on their instrument...more on that in my next article.