In the rapidly changing world of 2020, many people have had their entire world turned upside down without a moment's notice. Previously running at a hyper pace, we have taken a drastic turn into the slow lane with less pandemonium. Families are now spending more time together and reflecting on what really matters. Our quality of life and health, which had taken a back seat in our busy lives before, are our top priority now more than ever.
There has never been a better time to bring music into your life and your home. The lifetime rewards and benefits of learning to play music are endless.
Health and mental benefits
Research shows that playing music can lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate, reduce stress, and lessen anxiety and depression. Also, studies have shown there is increasing evidence that making music enhances the immunological response that enables us to fight viruses.
Music makes you smarter
Numerous studies have shown a correlation between higher academic achievement and children who are exposed to music. Music stimulates the parts of the brain that are related to reading, math, and emotional development. In addition, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and listening abilities are enhanced.
When students learn to play an instrument, they often enjoy themselves so much that they forget they are learning. This different type of learning promotes improved learning in other areas of their lives. Children and teens who play an instrument perform better in school and score higher on standardized tests like the SOLs and SATs.
Better memory and brain power
Playing music is like doing a workout for every part of your brain. This helps improve your mental performance and memory. Also, participation in music at a young age can help improve a child’s learning ability and their retention by stimulating different patterns of brain development. It can create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older. Evidence exists that music can help a patient’s brain recover from a stroke and slow the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Doctors have studied the relationship of memory and how music is processed and stored. They have discovered that music is stored in a Musical Memory Area (MMA) that is completely separate from the hippocampus and the temporal lobe that are necessary for long-term memory function. The MMA is one of the last areas of the brain to degenerate. Many older people and patients with cognitive impairment who have become despondent suddenly come alive and respond with movement or singing when music they recognize is played.
Enhances social skills
In the melting pot of America with so many diverse people, the one common denominator that’s been proven to harmoniously bring them all together is music. No matter where you're from, where you live, or who you know, people who may have never spoken or known one another can be joined together by their common love of making music.
Learning to play an instrument can help shy or quiet individuals connect with others through a mutual interest. Lifelong friends are made during lessons, band classes, and orchestra. Being involved in a musical group teaches important skills for life:
- How to relate to others
- The rewards of teamwork
- Dedication to achieving a goal
- Development of discipline and leadership skills
Builds confidence and self-esteem
Confidence and self-esteem can be difficult skills to develop but once developed they can lead to a happier and more fulfilling life. Mastering a new piece of music brings the musician a great sense of accomplishment. When people study music they see their skills improve through their own efforts, fostering a positive self-image, and furthering confidence in their own abilities.
Musicians discover that they are able to master a skill and overcome different challenges. This demonstrates, consciously or subconsciously, that they can easily tackle other challenges they may encounter in life.
Teaches patience, discipline and accountability
Modern technology has made instant gratification something we have come to expect in our daily lives. Many of us — especially children and teens — become frustrated when we don’t get what we want right away. Real life demands patience, discipline, and accountability and so does mastering a musical instrument. The time and effort a student invests in playing an instrument nurtures these three qualities needed for healthy relationships with others and with self.
Patience develops as the student comes to understand the process and time commitment mastering an instrument requires. Discipline results from daily regimented practice. Accountability comes from realizing that only you can make yourself a better musician.
Music is a healthy escape from the worries, pressures, and stress in the lives of teens, children, and adults. Playing music encourages relaxation and the benefits of music have been compared to those of meditation.
Stress starts in your brain and then kicks off a chain reaction that switches on the stress response in every cell of our bodies. Continual stress for extended periods of time can cause these cellular switches to remain in the “on” position, which can cause feelings of fatigue, burnout, depression, anger, and many physical ailments. Playing music sets off an opposite chain reaction to the stress response that switches these cells “off” again reversing these effects while improving physical and emotional health.
Provides a great outlet for expression and creativity
Often adults, children, and teens are unable to express their feelings verbally, but these feelings can be easily expressed and released through their music. Through music people can channel their joy, sadness, concerns, burdens, and emotions to bring them out in a healthy way where they're in control of the outcome rather than having these feelings remain bottled up inside. In addition, they are creating something truly unique that they can be proud of and call their own.
Last but certainly not least is the sheer joy of playing a musical instrument. The fun and gratification that is gained from learning to play a musical instrument will last a lifetime because music is a joy-filled activity that anyone can return to again and again. Wherever people go they carry their music with them and bring joy to themselves and others.
Tim Dingus, owner of Drum & Strum Music Center in Old Town Warrenton, enjoys helping people of all ages discover their inner musician. Established in 1990, Drum & Strum is a family owned music school and store that has served the area for over 30 years.