How does music inspire one to get up every morning and feel motivated to overcome life’s obstacles?


My beautiful question is heavily inspired by music and questions whether people who find it hard to simply live or overcome the obstacles of life are given motivation by listening, composing, or getting involved with music in any way.


Tom Howard, my change maker as you’ll read more about below, gives people that motivation, that bounce to life. He is deeply passionate about music and his students learn tricks that they will use for life, not only for guitar, but other things too. Tom has taught me lessons for life, ways to cope or be more motivated, things I won’t forget. I see him as a major inspiration in my life, not only does he make music seem so precious and a way of venting or letting feelings out, being excited to get up and crank the amp up and jam, he makes it fun, not just something to keep improving on, it’s a thing to enjoy while we have the time to.


So, there are many answers to my question, but two of the simplest I can think of are: If the right person inspires someone who needs that motivation, slowly, they will gain an excitement in life and continue to remind themselves about the advice or lesson taught by that right person and begin to flourish. The second simple answer: Music can inspire a person to overcome life by having a band that sends an encouraging message through their music, or having a source of reliability in that music, if that music expresses the same feelings the person is feeling, they won’t feel so alone and therefore, be more motivated to enlighten others about this.

Here’s a study I found on music therapy for depression.

How music is is interpreted through the mind.
How frequently music therapy has an impact on lowering depression rates.


Each GOA photography student conducted an interview and captured a portrait set of a change maker they chose. In this project, us students were able to formulate a problem we were passionate about and wanted to investigate deeper and interview any person in our local community who was making a change or having a role to do with our focusing problem.


Things such as climate change, animal testing, female coached sports, etc. My problem was ‘How are people surviving with the money they make from a hobby/job to follow their passion for music, and a passion for playing an instrument well?’, and my change maker was my guitar teacher, Tom Howard, pictured below.


Tom started learning guitar at around 15 and cringed at the thought of teaching the instrument professionally. Tom’s passion for guitar and music is stupendous and he is serious about his work and making learning as motivating and fun as it should be. He studied music/guitar for 3 years and that shows his dedication towards his passion.



Tom Howard, my guitar teacher – pictured by Claire

Here is my conducted interview:




C: Hello, Tom.

T: Hello, Claire, how are you doing?

C: Just fine, Tom, about a good 50/50.

T: Fair enough.

C: Okay, scary question time, first I’d like to ask you, what would your past self’s opinion be on your current profession and where you’re at these days?

T: Wow, that’s a good question, no one’s ever asked me that. My past self would be both really amazed and really disappointed. I remember when I was learning guitar, when I was about your age, I thought the idea of teaching guitar professionally would be the worst. I was like ‘UgH, I wanna be out there playing stadiums and bars,” and y’know, “being a world class shredder’, but in the end, teaching turned out to be more enjoyable than that stuff, plus, I still get to do some of that stuff anyway. I’m sure if my younger self could hear my playing, hopefully, I like to think his mind would be blown, or he might just be like “Eugh, whateva, you’re not that good”. Who knows? Younger me was pretty arrogant!

C: Alrighty.

T: You heard it here, folks.

C: Indeed, from the man himself. Here’s another question, are there any challenges in what you do?

T: Do you mean literally just my work, or the whole thing of being a guitar teacher? Like the business side of it and that stuff?

C: Yeah, just anything that demotivates or discourages you to continue teaching or anything like that.

T: Nothing that discourages me but there are definitely things that make it harder though.

C: Sometimes, is there a lesson learned in those hard times?

T: Yeah, absolutely. When I started teaching guitar, like 13 years ago, I made a lot of repeated mistakes, in how I taught, in what approach I took, in how I ran my business, in literally everything. There were things that could have been improved and overtime, you make those mistakes and you think “I’ll do this next time.”, and now, 13 years later, I’ve taught about 1,000 students and I’ve learned so much. Every little change in life adds up to make life a lot easier and it really is like that. I’m earning more money than back then, all my students are a lot happier, so yeah, it’s kinda like the toddler falling over trying to walk and gradually learning to stop falling over and then walk like a normal person. Does that answer your question?

C: Yeah, in a nutshell. What keeps you motivated?

T: Wow, great question, what keeps me motivated? There’s a huge motivator in the thoughts that I have such as: Even if I’m doing okay at something, I know I could always do better, because I know there are people out there doing better, I could be a better guitar teacher, there are things that could be done more efficiently, and I could be earning more money. I really like the aspect of it, that it’s a never-ending challenge. Life never gets boring that way. Every student is different, every day is different, every gig is different, and there’s always things you can be doing better in, and although that might sound a little depressing, it’s actually quite nice to know that there’ll always be something I can refine or improve.

C: Amazing, thank you for giving up our lesson time to share your great guitarist knowledge. Greatly appreciated.


Fact: Tom indeed can play with a coin on his Red Special (Brian May signature guitar on the right.)
Tom appreciation, this is his original song, Crumpets & Tea.


A local concert I went to with my mum at the Altar, Hobart. Claire
Some beautiful guitars at my favourite guitar store in town, Top Shelf. Claire
It’s me, surrounded by all my biggest influences. Claire
An input jack to my favourite amp. Claire
One of the many faces of Dom, the face I’m imitating. Claire

sources consulted and cited here

Please feel free to leave your thoughts where you can comment, it’s greatly appreciated 🙂

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  1. April 24, 2020 by Elise

    Hey Claire, really cool project and I love all of the different aspects you incorporated into it! Tom’s answer about what keeps him motivated resonated with me—I just started learning how to play the guitar a few months ago, and with the stay-at-home order where I live, I’ve gotten bored of pretty much everything EXCEPT playing the guitar! I didn’t really think about why this is, but I think it’s the same thing: it’s a never ending challenge that you can always get better at, which may be discouraging for some, but I think it is also a big motivator.

  2. April 26, 2020 by Claire

    Hello, Elise! My first comment, thank you. I’m really happy for you beginning your guitar journey, it’s gonna be fun and challenging, but it ain’t something you can’t conquer. I love your statement about how guitar is the only thing you haven’t gotten bored of. <3

  3. April 27, 2020 by Jay Waltmunson

    Such a great project, I really connected to your question, the interview, and then Tom’s playing. Thank you for lightening my day! – Jay in Seattle

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