13 benefits of learning a musical instrument as we get older
It’s never too late to gain the benefits of learning a musical instrument.
Our last article revealed the powerful benefits of learning a musical instrument after 60. One of the studies we discovered focussed on the impact of individual piano instruction on adults between the ages of 60 and 85 – which found gains in memory, verbal fluency, the speed at which they processed information, planning ability, and other cognitive functions, in those learning and instrument compared with those who had not received lessons.
This article looks at 13 benefits for over 60s learning to play a musical instrument…
1. Part of your exercise
Playing an instrument naturally leads to increased physical activity. Whether you’re playing the piano, guitar, strings, or a wind instrument, you’re using your arm and back muscles to play and / or hold up your instrument. And if you play the drums or bongos, you even get to do some cardio.
2. Therapeutic treatment
Playing music can help with stress, insomnia, and depression because it acts as an outlet for difficult emotions. A study of cancer patients found that listening to and playing music reduced anxiety. Another study revealed that music therapy lowered levels of depression and anxiety. Music can be a form of self-soothing in tough situations, and a healthy distraction from a stressful day.
3. Great for stress relief
Playing music puts your energy and focus on positive activity, which can help alleviate stress. Those reduced stress levels can help get your blood pressure and heart rate down to a healthy level.
4. Feel a sense of achievement
There’s no better feeling than finally mastering one of your favourite songs. Setting a goal, putting in the work, and eventually reaching that goal gives you a strong sense of achievement. It will also improve your confidence in other areas of life in the process and motivate you to keep going and learn more.
5. Opens the door to making new friends
You can use music as an icebreaker when meeting new people, or as a way to actually meet new people, such as singing in a choir, playing in a band, going to live music shows, or just playing music together. Music provides a great talking point with songs, artists and talent, and a great way to make new friends.
6. Learning to read music improves cognitive brain function
It is said that reading music helps strengthen your ability to process information by creating new connections between the synapses in your brain. As a result, reading and absorbing information from other sources becomes a lot easier.
7. Improves concentration
Focus is a necessary part of learning an instrument. Improving your musical skills forces you to use all the parts of your brain involved in concentration, making you better able to concentrate in other life situations.
8. Strengthens your mental performance and memory
Playing music is like doing a workout for every part of your brain. It helps improve your mental performance and memory. There’s even evidence that music can help a patient’s brain recover from a stroke, as well as slow the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
9. Uplift in your coordination
Using your fingers, hands, and feet in a rhythmic manner for a sustained amount of time, while also being conscious of playing the correct tones, can be a challenge for even the most coordinated people. Over time though, playing music refines your motor skills that go beyond the hand-eye. Such great coordination significantly contributes to your everyday coordination, which works hand-in-hand with exercise and gym classes.
10. Better time management skills
Not only does learning an instrument require practice, but it also lends itself to consistency and routine. Figuring out how to fit practice into your busy schedule and ensuring you stick to it helps you develop better time management and organisation skills. Staying busy also reduces depression and improves wellbeing. You are also more likely to keep a busy schedule outside of learning an instrument.
11. Promotes self expression
Whether you’re writing your own music or playing someone else’s, music allows you to express yourself in many ways. Including taking a song and adding your own sound to it. You also get to be creative when choosing your own unique style and genre.
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12. Music increases blood flow in your brain
Studies have found that short bursts of musical training increase the blood flow to the left hemisphere of the brain. That can be helpful when you need a burst of energy. Skip the coffee boost and start playing for 30 minutes.
13. Playing music makes you happy
McMaster University discovered that babies who took interactive music classes displayed better early communication skills. They also smiled more. Whilst learning music can be difficult at first, it subconsciously applies all of the above benefits that contribute to making you more happy and improving your health and wellbeing.
So what are you waiting for? It’s never too late to start! Dust off the old instrument you’ve hidden away in storage, or take up a new challenge and finally buy the instrument you’ve been talking about learning – or always wanted to learn, but never did.
– National Geographic, Your Aging Brain Will Be in Better Shape If You’ve Taken Music Lessons. By Diane Cole, January 2014. Read more
– How Playing An Instrument Benefits The Brain. By Anita Collins. Read more
– 17 Surprising Health Benefits of Playing an Instrument. Music Notes. Read more
Learn more techniques to keeping your memory active
Volume four uncovers a number of techniques that will help keep your memory active, in hopes to boosting your memory. Improving or maintaining an active memory is an important part of aging, which is why we’ve included it as one part of volume four – listing some key causes, quick tips and techniques to engage healthy cognitive brain. Read more on Volume 4 – Relax your mind + Boost your memory.
Volume 4 is titled “Relax your mind + Boost your memory”, comprising 47 pages the volume covers two informative chapters on how to stay relaxed after 60, and techniques to keeping your memory active.
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