It really is true when they say that nothing good comes easy. This is evident in all areas of life. The more challenging something is to obtain, the more worthy and valuable it becomes.
Learning an instrument takes time, dedication, emotional outpouring, technical development, along with a plethora of other things. However, budding musicians often find that the positives extracted from the experience overshadow their efforts.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn an instrument here are 5 more reasons why you need to start today.
1. It Boosts Cognitive Functions
Many fascinating changes occur in the brain when playing an instrument that ripple out into many areas of life – even areas completely unrelated to music.
Think about it like this. To learn music effectively means to learn an entirely new language. Players read this language when performing on their instrument – but there is a whole lot more going on to engage the brain at a much deeper level.
So, what exactly is going on in the brain of a musician? Firstly, studies have shown that musicians have higher volumes of grey matter in the brain.
More grey matter means increased muscle control, heightened sensory perception, as well as improved memory, speech, emotional control and better decision making.
The left and right sides of the brain each have unique responsibilities. Studies have shown that musicians use both the left and right sides of their frontal cortex simultaneously, and much more heavily than the average person.
Additionally, trained musicians use a creative technique called ‘divergent thinking’ more effectively than non-musicians.
This technique entails the ability to devise new solutions for complex, multifaceted problems.
2. It Releases The Feel-Good Chemical Dopamine
All of this engagement within the brain has noticeable impacts on brain chemistry.
According to McGill University, simply listening to music triggers the release of dopamine in the brain. This chemical is responsible for the pleasure and reward centers of the brain – this is the primary reason why playing and listening to music feels so good!
Having naturally enhanced dopamine production can elevate mood and lower stress levels.
Studies have shown that playing or enjoying music with others stimulates another feel-good chemical called oxytocin. This chemical is responsible for regulating empathy and trust and plays a huge role in bonding with others.
There’s a scientifically backed reason for why music is so good when you’re stressed out. A study published in 2013 demonstrates that playing music lowers levels of the hormone cortisol.
Cortisol is responsible for our ‘fight or flight’ response. In the modern world, we are producing higher levels through increased exposure to stimuli. Thus, lower cortisol levels mean lower levels of stress!
All of these chemicals are responsible for regulating and balancing your mood.
It’s no wonder that further studies have demonstrated that learning an instrument can lessen mood related disorders such as anxiety and depression!
3. It Creates Positive Social Changes
It’s very common for the people you play music with to feel like family.
With all that release of oxytocin happening in the brain it naturally follows that musicians feel closer to the people around them.
Joining a band or orchestra can be a fantastic way to connect with other musicians and expand an individual’s social circle.
In fact, studies have proven that learning music can improve social skills.
A 2010 study confirmed that 4-year-olds who engaged in collaborative music creation demonstrated higher spontaneous cooperation and altruism compared to peers taking part in non-musical play.
This strongly suggests that musical practice could improve the development of social skills. A 2012 study demonstrated this through active music classes for 6 months with a group of 6-month-olds.
The group developed social behavior and communicative gestures much faster than infants who engaged in passive music classes (listening only).
4. It Develops Technical Skill and Creative Ability
One of the most amazing things about learning an instrument is how many different skills are developed at once.
Complex sections of music test an individual’s dexterity, sight-reading, and memory.
Being able to play your instrument well also requires the development of technical skills. This means improved coordination and motor skills.
Also, learning an instrument will sharpen your listening skills. This is not just limited to the ability of decoding music using just your ear.
In fact, studies show that trained musicians are actually better at perceiving and remembering sounds than non-musicians!
Creativity is a highly valuable skill. Learning to play an instrument nurtures and refines this skill, giving every player an augmented ability.
Learning music theory and notation opens opportunities for students to use this knowledge for their own creation – whether it be for their own compositions or to improvise!
Additionally, learning to tackle a piece of music is a skill that will allow the player to see all of life’s challenges through a multifaceted, creative lens. Already know how to play the piano? Check out my 5 tips for instantly increasing your skill level.
5. It’s Fantastic for Personal Development
There are so many ways learning an instrument is good for personal development.
Firstly, anything that requires the practice of discipline is excellent for personal growth. Skilled musicians generally have fantastic discipline and dedication.
In addition, there’s nothing like that feeling of achievement when you’ve finally tackled a difficult piece of music.
Overcoming musical challenges that initially seem impenetrable can give the player an amazing sense of pride and increased self-confidence.
Also, learning an instrument can broaden cultural understanding. Music is incredibly reflective of cultures throughout history and learning an instrument will undoubtedly give the player some exposure to it, one way or another.
Whether you’re interested in learning jazz, classical or contemporary – you’re more than likely going to enrich your knowledge and understanding of the corresponding time period!
Learning an instrument is an amazing journey that’s full of ups and downs. It’s full of benefits that are so long-lasting and diverse that it’s obvious why people choose to learn.
Start playing today and watch these remarkable changes unfold in your life!
Enjoyed this article? Be sure to check out the science on how music makes you happy.