Why Adults Should Learn and Play Musical Instruments

playing the piano

Playing an instrument yields so many benefits to our health and well-being that it’s a mystery why more people don’t pick up music in their lifetime. Even if you are not musically-inclined much less a prodigy, learning and playing music can provide physical, cognitive, mental, and emotional benefits throughout your life, even when you cannot play anymore.

So if you’re hesitating to take those regular piano lessons because of your age or wary about the price of the instrument you want, here are the benefits of playing music that should finally convince you to take the plunge.

Physical benefits

Music does not only provide psychological and emotional benefits; it can also be beneficial for your physical health as well.

  • Stress relief. Playing music is known to effectively reduce stress levels, which can be extremely beneficial for adults. When your stress levels are low, your blood pressure and heart rate tend to stay at normal levels. You’ll also be able to fall asleep much faster, avoid unhealthy cravings, and stay energized throughout the day.
  • Immune response. Creating music is shown to enhance the immunological response, helping fight off viruses.
  • Exercise. Learning to play an instrument increases your physical activity and strengthens certain muscles in your body, whether you’re banging away at the drums or sitting in front of a piano.
  • Lung strengthening. If you play a wind instrument (e.g. flute, harmonica, clarinet), it can help strengthen your lungs.
  • Motor skills. Most musical instruments require dexterity and flexibility of the hands or feet (or both) to play. When you learn how to play an instrument, say, a guitar, you’ll be able to develop the fine motor skills in your fingers and hands. An instrument that requires both hands and feet, on the other hand, can help strengthen the muscles in your limbs and keep them strong as you age.
  • Good posture. Playing an instrument also requires proper posture. If you are constantly slouching, learning how to play can help turn your habit around and prevent back pain.

Cognitive benefits

The cognitive benefits of learning and playing music may not be the same for everyone. But in general, music improves cognitive skills such as memory, recognition, and auditory processing, among others.

  • Self-discipline. Practicing music can help you say no to a second helping at dinner. Sounds improbable, but music practice is known to develop self-discipline, which can help you have better self-control in other aspects of your life.
  • Concentration and memory. Learning how to play an instrument requires a great amount of concentration, especially if you are not musically adept in the first place. When you concentrate for longer periods of time (sustained attention), it helps improve your working memory for life.
  • Self-esteem. Playing an instrument helps increase self-confidence, which, in turn, improves your self-image.
  • Neural plasticity. This is the ability of your nervous system to change. It’s what keeps your brain young. But as you age, neural plasticity declines, making you more susceptible to age-related decline. Playing music, however, can help your brain maintain neural plasticity and prevent age-related illnesses like dementia.

piano instrument

Emotional benefits

Music is an art form that invokes emotions, both positive and negative. When you listen to or play music, you can experience emotional benefits such as the following.

  • Therapy. For most people, music is a free form of therapy. Simply playing a few chords on your guitar or playing a simple song on the piano at the end of a long day can help soothe your stress and distract you from your problems in a non-destructive way.
  • Expression. Music is one of the best ways to express yourself, just like other forms of art. It evokes creativity, inspiration, relaxation, and other positive things that can benefit your emotional state.
  • Sense of achievement. Nailing a difficult chord or mastering a new song can give you a sense of accomplishment, which, in turn, improves your self-esteem and emotional well being. And when you share your music with others, you’ll feel as though you’re on top of the world.
  • Emotion processing. Learning music can also help you process your emotions in a healthy way. It can elicit new emotions, remind you of old ones, and connect to yourself and others better emotionally.
  • Socialization. You can use music to meet new people, whether you use it as a conversation starter or join a musical group like a band or a choir.

Learning an instrument can be a challenge, especially as an adult with a ton of other responsibilities and not as much time to learn. But as you can see from this article, taking the time to learn music can provide a barrage of physical, emotional, and mental benefits that can last for a lifetime.

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