8 Benefits of Learning to Play an Instrument

It’s never too late to set a New Year’s resolution—setting self-improvement goals any time of year is a great thing to do! Since most of our resolutions center on improving our health, why not consider learning a music instrument? That’s not health related, you say? Think again! There are so many healthful benefits that learning to play an instrument provides. Whether you’re itching to play an instrument yourself or are looking for music lessons for kids, keep reading to learn 8 reasons to go through with it.
1. Grow your mind. A research study involving music lessons for kids showed that preschoolers who received music lessons had 34% more memory and thought capacity than those who didn’t. Musicians have routinely proven that their brains function better, and differently, than non-musicians. Learning to play an instrument can increase your fine motor skills, hearing, auditory learning skills, and even your IQ by a few points.
2. Enhance coordination. Hand-eye coordination is the heart and soul of playing any instrument. You have to read the music on the page and instantly translate that into physical motion, not to mention learning how to play without looking at the instrument itself. Clumsy musicians are rare.
3. Better cognitive skills. Counting notes and rhythms is math in motion. Musical theory is also rife with mathematical aspects. Want to lose your math-o-phobia and improve your test scores? Learn music! Reading and comprehension skills are also improved by learning to read and play music. Music requires constant reading, analyzing, and understanding.
4. Sharpen your concentration. You can’t snooze on the job in the orchestra pit or during a performance. You also can’t hope to ever learn to play that étude or top-40 hit if you don’t focus. Playing music forces you to focus your attention to the tasks at hand, thereby enabling you to find focus in other areas of life, giving you the ability to block out distractions easier in your day-to-day.
5. Relieve stress and boost emotional health. Music gives you an outlet for self-expression, as well as a source of a sense of accomplishment. These naturally boost your self-esteem and emotional well-being. Musicians find that playing is relaxing, stress-relieving, and provides a happiness boost.
6. Improve social and cooperative skills. Music gives you a chance to work with others, either in an ensemble or one-on-one, as you learn and perform. You can’t be much of a loner in the midst of other musicians, all working toward the same goal and purpose—the performance. You can’t be the strong silent type and get much of anywhere with your instructor, either. Joining a group or band, or playing at home for family and friends can create many wonderful memories and long-lasting relationships. Social and cooperative skills are necessary to be a performing player.
7. Exposure to culture and history. Most musicians take an interest in certain composers, learning about their lives and times. Likewise, many musicians will become fascinated with one or more cultural or ethnic musical styles, and delve deeply into the background of that music. Even if you don’t take it upon yourself to learn much more than the notes on the page, you’ll still be exposed to music from various locations and time periods.
8. Become more determined, responsible, and disciplined. It takes a great deal of perseverance to perfect a piece by Mozart or master your first recognizable tune. Music teaches determination and discipline through practice and more practice. You have to really stick to it to be good at it. Music also fosters responsibility, as you have to care for your instrument, your music, and yourself. It takes time and effort to polish that horn, to keep that violin in tip-top shape, and to keep your lips from getting chapped or your hands from getting bruised and banged up.
Music has much to offer anyone who undertakes the challenge. Science is still uncovering all the benefits music has to offer. Give it a try. Pick that horn up again. Exercise those lungs, stretch that mind, relieve some stress, and make your life better by making a bit of music.