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Benefits Of Learning To Play An Instrument

By Jeremy LaBrooy

As you navigate the ups and downs of daily life, have you ever considered the therapeutic benefits of learning to play a musical instrument?
Not only does it provide a peaceful retreat from the pressures of daily life, but it also has a profound impact on your mental and physical well-being.

I can tell you from experience that playing an instrument can improve your communication skills, emotional release, and even decrease anxiety and agitation. Moreover, playing an instrument promotes cognitive function, mental health, and a connection to others, making it an necessary component of a healthy lifestyle.

So, why not take the first step towards unlocking the numerous benefits of playing an instrument?

Key Takeaways In This Article:

  • Mental Health Benefits: Learning to play a musical instrument can help reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress, while improving mood, self-esteem, and overall mental well-being.
  • Cognitive Function and Brain Plasticity: Playing an instrument can stimulate the brain, improve cognitive function, and promote brain plasticity, which can help mitigate age-related cognitive decline and even reduce the risk of dementia.
  • Physical and Motor Skills Benefits: Musical training can improve dexterity, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination, which can be especially beneficial for individuals with conditions such as osteoarthritis, stroke survivors, and those with physical disabilities.

Benefits of Learning to Play an Instrument

benefits-of-learning-to-play-an-instrument

Your decision to learn to play a musical instrument can have a profound impact on your overall well-being. From therapeutic outcomes to cognitive function and mental health, the benefits of playing an instrument are numerous and far-reaching.

Therapeutic Outcomes

Playing an instrument can be a powerful tool for emotional release, reducing anxiety and agitation, and improving communication skills. By incorporating music into your daily life, you can create a peaceful retreat from the pressures of daily life.

Cognitive Function and Mental Health

With regular practice, playing an instrument can improve your cognitive function, mental health, and overall connection to others. Research has shown that musical training can decrease psychological distress, depression, and fatigue, while promoting empowerment, autonomy, and social cohesion.

Understanding the complexities of the brain, researchers have found that playing an instrument reorganizes the brain’s neural pathways, promoting brain plasticity and reducing the likelihood of cognitive impairments in advanced age. By engaging in musical training, you can improve your executive functioning, working memory, and visual memory, while also reducing the risk of dementia and cognitive impairment.

How Playing An Instrument Benefits Your Brain

Depression and Music

Some of the most debilitating effects of depression can be alleviated through the power of music. As you explore the benefits of learning to play an instrument, it’s necessary to understand the profound impact music can have on mental health.

Impact of Depression on Adults

Adults aged 55 and above are most susceptible to depression, with approximately 14.8 million people affected. This mental health issue accounts for 10% of all medical disability in the U.S. and Canada, often leading to anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and complicated healthcare issues.

The Positive Effects of Music on Depression

music has positive effect on mental health
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk

The therapeutic benefits of music on depression are undeniable. Research has shown that playing a musical instrument can enhance mood, reduce psychological distress, and even alleviate symptoms of depression.

Depression can be overwhelming, but music provides a temporary escape from the stress of daily life. By learning to play an instrument, you can experience a sense of empowerment, autonomy, and social cohesion, which are necessary for maintaining good mental health. The positive effects of music on depression are long-lasting, with some studies showing sustained improvements in mood and cognition for several months.

Mind Stimulation

After learning to play a musical instrument, you’ll experience a significant boost in mental stimulation, which is important for maintaining a healthy brain as you age.

Age-Related Physiologic Losses

Any decline in cognitive function, memory, and motor control can be mitigated by engaging in musical training, which provides a multisensory activity that requires integrating signals from different sensory modalities with motor responses.

The Benefits of Musical Training on Cognitive Function

Mind stimulation through musical training has been shown to improve cognitive function, particularly in older adults, by promoting brain plasticity and reorganizing the brain’s neural pathways.

Plus, research indicates that musical training can lead to improved executive functioning, working memory, and visual memory, all of which are crucial for daily activities and overall well-being. Verghese and colleagues found that individuals who played a musical instrument were less likely to experience dementia than those who engaged in other leisure activities. Additionally, musical training has been associated with improved manual dexterity, finger movement coordination, and functional use of upper extremities, which are important for daily living.

Dexterity and Fine Motor Skills

Now, let’s explore how learning to play an instrument can improve your dexterity and fine motor skills.

Improving Manual Dexterity and Finger Movement Coordination

Enhancing your manual dexterity and finger movement coordination is important for playing a musical instrument. As you practice, your hands and fingers become more agile, allowing you to perform complex movements with ease. This improvement in dexterity can also translate to other areas of your life, such as daily activities like buttoning a shirt or using a remote control.

The Benefits of Keyboard Playing for Stroke Survivors and Older Adults

Improving dexterity through keyboard playing can have a significant impact on stroke survivors and older adults. Research has shown that piano playing can lead to meaningful improvements in manual dexterity, finger movement coordination, and functional use of upper extremities.

For instance, a study found that stroke survivors who participated in piano lessons experienced improved movement quality and reorganization of the sensorimotor cortex. Additionally, older adults with osteoarthritis who played the piano reported decreased arthritic pain, increased dexterity, and increased finger strength. These benefits can greatly improve the quality of life for individuals with mobility issues, allowing them to maintain independence and perform daily tasks with more ease.

Stress Reduction

To combat the negative effects of stress, you can turn to playing a musical instrument. Research has shown that playing an instrument can be an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety levels.

playing a musical instrument can reduce stress
Photo-by-Amina-Filkins

The Impact of Stress on the Immune System

Immunologically, stress can have devastating effects on your body. Chronic stress can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to diseases. In fact, emotional stress is a major contributing factor to the 6 leading causes of death in the U.S., including cancer, coronary heart disease, and respiratory disorders.

The Benefits of Playing the Piano on Stress Levels

Any activity that can help reduce stress levels is worth exploring. Playing the piano has been shown to be particularly effective in this regard. Studies have found that playing the piano can lower cortisol levels and decrease anxiety levels, making it an excellent stress-reducing activity.

It’s not just about the act of playing the piano, but also the sense of accomplishment and confidence that comes with learning a new skill. As you progress in your piano-playing journey, you’ll experience a sense of pride and self-worth, which can help counteract the negative effects of stress.

Conclusion

You’ve seen the numerous benefits of learning to play a musical instrument, from reducing stress and anxiety to improving cognitive function and overall well-being. As you’ve discovered, playing an instrument can be a powerful tool in promoting mental and physical health, especially in older adults.

By incorporating music into your life, you can experience a sense of empowerment, autonomy, and social connection, leading to a more fulfilling and healthy life. So, why not give it a try?

Pick up an instrument and start playing – your mind and body will thank you!

FAQ

mental health benefits of learning to play an instrument
Photo by MART PRODUCTION

Q: What are the mental health benefits of learning to play an instrument?

A: Learning to play a musical instrument has been shown to have numerous mental health benefits, including reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, improving mood, and enhancing cognitive function. Playing an instrument can also provide a sense of empowerment, autonomy, and social cohesion, particularly for older adults. Additionally, it can help individuals cope with stress and promote emotional release.

Q: How does learning to play an instrument impact cognitive function?

A: Learning to play an instrument has been found to improve cognitive function, particularly in older adults. It can help mitigate age-related cognitive decline, improve memory, and enhance executive functioning and working memory. Playing an instrument also promotes brain plasticity, which is the brain’s ability to change and adapt throughout life.

Q: Can learning to play an instrument help with physical rehabilitation and overall well-being?

A: Yes, learning to play an instrument can have physical benefits, particularly for individuals with physical disabilities or injuries. For example, playing the piano has been shown to improve manual dexterity, finger movement coordination, and functional use of upper extremities in stroke survivors. Additionally, playing an instrument can reduce stress, promote relaxation, and enhance overall well-being.

References

  1. Shipman, Debra. “A Prescription for Music Lessons.” Federal practitioner : for the health care professionals of the VA, DoD, and PHS vol. 33,2 (2016): 9-12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6368928/

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