Choosing to play an instrument is the beginning of a journey. One that is exciting, but often filled with struggle and hard work. It will require you to take in new information and master new skills.
Listed below are some of the many benefits of playing an instrument. Many people who take up learning a musical instrument frequently get discouraged due to the level of dedication and time commitment it takes therefore it’s important to keep the benefits in mind.
A study, published by The National Center for Biotechnology Information, researched into how effective music was in lowering stress. The test involve putting dozens of volunteers into three groups and exposed to different stimulus. Group 1 – relaxing music, Group 2 – the sound of rippling water and Group 3 – resting with no sound present. After, their stress indicators were measured. The study showed that those who listened to relaxing music had significantly lower cortisol (the stress hormone) levels than those in the other two groups.
Life is often stressful so listening to music can be a way to relax and take your mind away from the complexities of day to day life.
Strengthens patience and perseverance
The process to play an instrument is not always easy. It doesn’t just involve expanding your mind but adapting your body as well. You will have to learn fingerings and/or chord shapes, develop techniques, and memorize new information. Slowly, with consistant practice, you will find yourself getting better. With each new milestone you gain a small reward and a fresh incentive to continue your musical journey. Making music requires patience. Instead of getting immediate results, you will have to persevere.
Develops appreciation for music
You don’t have to become Mozart to reap the benefits of music. You can gain many of these benefits by just learning the basics. Through going through a variety of pieces, you will find different composers, styles and genres of music that suits your particular tastes. Not only does this cause you to be more well-versed in music, but it also leads to a higher appreciation of the skill.
According to Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, unless you have taken part in music education, or in learning a musical instrument, you have no real basis for assessing the quality of a piece of music.
At its core, music is an art form.
Music is a language, and the more “words” you learn the more you will be able to say. You will soon find yourself wanting to apply the knowledge you’ve already gained to create music of your own by using different chord arrangements and so on. Music is not just about knowing how to play specific songs, it is about expressing emotion through sound. Whether it’s just playing your own version of a song, or creating an entirely new one, learning how to play an instrument enables you to use your creativity to say something original.
Utilities every part of the brain
Science has shown that musical training can change brain structure and function for the better. It can also improve long-term memory and lead to better brain development for those who start at a young age.
Furthermore, brain scans have been able to identify the difference in brain structure between musicians and non-musicans. Most notably, the corpus collosum, a massive bundle of nerve fibres connecting the two sides of the brain, is larger in musicians. Also, the areas improving movement, hearing and memory abilities appear to be larger in long-term players.
Interestingly, even brief periods of musical training can have long-lasting benefits. Increases in reading, memory capacity and happiness were also outlined in the report, conducted by the University of Westminster.
Strengthens your immune system
While investigating the effects of music, physiologists and neuroscientists Daniel J. Levitin and Mona Lisa Chanda found that listening to music and playing an instrument benefited the immune system. These activities lead to the manufacturing of the antibody immunoglobulin-A, (IgA) which kills viruses.
Improves time-management skills
Adding learning an instrument into an already busy schedule can be challenging, especially if you want to become an advanced player. The desire to get better will help you to schedule in practice during your already busy day. You also learn the life skill of how to waste less time and to use your time wisely.
Increase memory capacity
Way back in 2003, ABC Science included a study conducted amongst school students, half of whom had been musically trained, and half who had not. The test involved reading a list of words to the students and asking them to recall the words after a period of time had elapsed. The study found that the boys who had been musically trained had a significantly better verbal memory than the boys who had not. In addition, the more musical training they had, the more words they were able to remember.
Allows you to share with others
Once people know you can play a musical instrument, they will want to hear you play. Perhaps unsurprising to hear, the ability to play a musical instrument is not commonplace and most family circles do not have that mother or father, brother or sister, who can competently play aninstrument, let alone perform in front of a group of people.
So once you learn how to effectively play an instrument, not only do you have the ability to share your gift with family and friends, you can bless those at nursing homes, church, large family gatherings, and on special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas. The list is endless!
Increases emotional perception
In 2009, the European Journal of Science investigated the relationship between musical training and the processing of vocal emotion. They found that those who were musically trained better detected vocal emotions. This makes sense because there are many “emotions” conveyed through music. For example, excitement is produced through dynamics that get progressively louder and higher pitched. Being exposed to this tonal variance in music can help you to not just detect the emotions of music but the emotions behind people’s words.
Evolves personal discipline
No one can learn to play an instrument overnight. Making music requires work and a consistent investment in time and effort. As they say, practice makes perfect. Discipline is necessary to go through the process of consistent, focused practice, especially with all the distractions that are so apparent in modern day life. This discipline can carry over into other aspects of your life, elevating the quality of the life you live.
Enlarges the brain
Another study initially carried out in 2003 from the Journal of Neuroscience compared the brains of professional musicians, amateur musicians and non-musicians. The study found an increase in grey matter in many areas of the brain of professional musicians. Grey matter includes most of the brain’s neuronal cell bodies. This type of matter includes regions of the brain involved in muscle control and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, speech, decision making and self control.
The study found that amateur musicians had less grey matter in those areas, and the non-musicians had the least gray matter. According to Via Radiology, grey matter provides us with information processing power. The more advanced you are in music the larger volume of grey matter you have in your brain.
The process of learning music leads to you playing in front of other people. This could include playing in front of your teacher, playing at a seasonal recital or playing for curious family and friends. This fosters the valuable expertise and grit necessary to confidently hold it together when other people are watching. The confidence instilled from your experiences with performing to large crowds will be carried over to all other areas of your life.
Benefits spelling and IQ in children
The National Center for Biotechnology Information directed a study involving a group of German elementary students to study the effects of musical training. they compared three groups: those who played an instrument, those who didn’t play an instrument, and those who didn’t play an instrument but had a member of the family who did. They found that the non-verbal IQ of those who played an instrument was the highest. In addition, those who played an instrument had the fewest spelling mistakes; likely due to the precision needed to learn music.
Perhaps playing an instrument is the perfect solution for a child who is struggling in school!
Decreases age related hearing loss
In a study performed by the then doctoral student Benjamin Zendal and Dr. Claude Alain, participants were instructed to attentively listen to complex sounds. It was found that the older musicians auditory cortices responded the same as the younger participants and at a higher functionality than the older non-musicians, who had age-related hindrances. This is ironic because many musicians experience hearing loss from the loud music they are a part of, but if you protect your ears from the “loudness” of music, music can actually benefit your hearing.
Speeds up reaction times
A study by Dr.Simon Landry at a Canadian university lead a study comparing the reaction times of musicians who had at least 7 years of training with non-musicians. Dr. Simon had the participating students place one hand on a mouse, the other on a vibrotactile device, and placed a speaker in front of them. If the students felt a vibration from the vibrotactile device, or heard a sound from the speaker, or sensed both happening at the same time, they were instructed to click the mouse. The results demonstrated that the musicians had significantly faster reaction times all three ways they were stimulated.
Above everything else, music makes you happy! There are few pleasures in this world that can be compared to the high you feel from sitting down with your own instrument and letting your soul flow through your body and out across the freeing flowing chords of a musical piece. And this is what underpins every benefit of learning to play an instrument: it’s enjoyable.
And if it’s enjoyable chances are you’re going to stick with it.
Full Credit This report was originally published by Mike Levitsky from Drums and Guitar.