Playing a musical instrument has several benefits proven by studies. If you don’t have ‘learn an instrument’ on your bucket list, here are 5 reasons why you should start playing one in 2019.
1. Playing Music Makes You Happy
Music is powerful. It can promote happiness in your life and those around you. Not only is it fun to play music that you enjoy, but it can be very gratifying seeing the happiness on people’s face because they like what you’re playing.
Overcoming musical challenges that you never thought you could, can also create a great sense of achievement. As you practice and become a more experienced musician, making beautiful sounding music will please not only you, but the people surrounding you.
And while other hobbies like watching Netflix or swiping through social media are passive, playing music actively engages and stimulates the brain, making you feel happy and giving you a great sense of accomplishment.
2. It Makes You Smarter
Playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout. It forces you to process multiple senses like vision, hearing, touch and motor skills, all at once, resulting in long-lasting changes in the brain.
Learning how to play an instrument will:
- Increase the capacity of your memory. Playing an instrument makes you use both sides of your brain, which strengthens memory power.
- Enhance your coordination. When reading musical notes on a page, your brain subconsciously must convert that note into specific motor patterns while also adding rhythm to the mix.
- Better your math skills. Music requires that you count notes and rhythms, and music theory includes many mathematical aspects.
- Improve reading and comprehension skills: When you see black and white notes on a paper, you have to recognise what the note name is and translate it to a finger position.
Watch this TED video animation explaining the benefits of playing a musical instrument to your brain.
3. Music Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Music has a unique effect on our emotions. Studies with cancer patients found that listening and playing music reduces anxiety. Another study reveals that music therapy lowers levels of depression and anxiety, and has been useful in treating children and teens with autism, depression and other disorders.
Playing an instrument can be a great form of therapy, by focusing on your practice session and forgetting about all the problems and thoughts you might’ve had on that day, or expressing all your feelings while playing or writing a song. It acts as an outlet for difficult emotions. It can be a form of self-soothing in tough situations, and a healthy distraction from a stressful day.
Michael Jolkovski, a psychologist who specialises in musicians, believes music helps reduce stress by helping people connect with others. “It can satisfy the need to unwind from the worries of life, but unlike other things people often use for this purpose, like excessive eating, drinking, or aimless web browsing, it makes people more alive and connected with one another.”
4. It Increases Discipline and Social Skills
The process of learning an instrument isn’t easy. It takes time and effort. Regularly playing an instrument teaches you perseverance, discipline and responsibility, as you have to manage your time, maintain your instrument and keep on practicing until you finally manage to perfect that passage you’ve been struggling with for days.
This can prove to be extremely advantageous in children. For instance, Mira Stulberg-Halpert, who works with children who have ADHD, has seen music discipline children when everything else fails.
Playing an instrument also helps you get comfortable with self-expression. Joining a musical group at any age encourages you to develop relationships with new kinds of people. Hence, it builds skills in leadership and team-building, as well as showing you the rewards of working with others.
5. Playing an Instrument Improves Your Mental Health
Playing a musical instrument will help you become a healthier person – mentally and emotionally. The artistic and aesthetic aspects of learning to play a musical instrument are different from any other activity studied by neuroscientists, including other arts. Therefore, why not give the art of learning an instrument a try in 2019? Challenge yourself and become the guitar player you always wanted to be.
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