As someone who was raised very frum, but went OTD shortly after my bar mitzvah and have remained frei ever since, this is something I wonder. When I was growing up, there was absolutely no music education in my cheder, and I can’t imagine that that was atypical. Secular studies are kept to the bare legal minimum of English and math, and I don’t see any frum cheder electing to give up some time for music that could be spent on limud torah.
At the same time, I don’t remember it being common at all for people I knew to take music lessons (except girls). And anyone who did take lessons was going to sent off to yeshiva in their teens anyway, where there can’t be much time to practice music if you are really shteiging, which there is tremendous pressure to do.
So where do these guys playing at weddings, who are clearly very frum, and who clearly have 10+ years of serious musical practice under their belt, come from? I just don’t see how there’s time in the derech of boys in the frum velt to really learn an instrument.
Is it the sort of thing that fathers pass on to their sons, which I didn’t see because my father wasn’t a musician? Do people sort of know that they’re going to be a musician, and spend less time learning than the typical bochur because they need to practice? Or are these guys all takeh prodigies? For most people, being able to play the kind of music jewish musicians play, for hours straight at a wedding, takes many years of serious time commitment.
Chazzanim and other singers are a different story of course, since fathers pass it on to their sons and it is also easy to find out who has a good voice and push them in the right direction. And, most importantly, learning how to use your voice is objectively many times easier than learning to play an instrument.
Also, I’m not talking about all the mediocre musicians who just play simple chords against niggunim. That level of musicality can easily be picked up in your spare time even if you are learning 10 hours a day. I’m talking about the guys who can really improvise and play complicated stuff like freilachs at weddings.