We’ve all heard that getting your child into music can really help with development and learning skills, but few people talk about the benefits of learning to play an instrument as an adult. Yes, in fact you can teach an old dog new tricks and doing so can lead to a whole host of gains.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn an instrument, but never had the chance as a child. Perhaps you didn’t have any interest when you were younger, but now wish you’d jumped on any opportunities you had along the way. The great news is that it’s never too late to learn to play and to get additional benefits from the learning.
If you’ve been on the fence about learning to play an instrument, here are some benefits that may just nudge you towards taking the plunge.
Increase Reaction Time
Aging plays a lot of cruel tricks on the body. While young people have quick reflexes, older people tend to react slower. Luckily, by playing a musical instrument you can train your body to react more quickly again.
Expand Your Social Circle
More and more people work from home these days or sit in a cubicle and don’t socialize a lot with others. In our off time we’re often looking at electronics rather than interacting with people in person. If you’re retired (or just don’t get out much) you may be missing the social interaction you enjoyed when you worked. Taking music lessons usually requires you to leave the house and be among like minded individuals who may just become new friends.
Increase Grey Matter
In terms of brain power, having more grey matter to work with is good. Studies have shown that the volume of grey matter in a number of regions of the brain is higher in those learning to play a musical instrument. The long range connection between brain regions are also strengthened with instrument playing. Those studying an instrument can look forward to improvements in literacy, spatial reasoning and verbal memory.
Become a Multitasker
Maybe you already think you’re adept at juggling a variety of tasks at once or maybe you just wish you were. Either way, learning to play an instrument can make this ability strong. Playing music pushes us to involve multiple senses at once. Do so on a regular basis and your multisensory skill set increases.
Boost Blood Flow
If you feel like you’re lagging in the energy department you may be tempted to reach for a cup of coffee or an energy drink. Rather than pumping your body with caffeine, grab your instrument instead. Studies have proven that brief periods of music lessons up the blood flow in the left hemisphere of the brain.
Stress is all around us and sometimes it can be tough to find a way out of the daily grind. Fortunately, playing an instrument channels our energy and focus into something that makes people happy. That shift can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, which is good all around.
Yes, playing an instrument can help you breathe better too—at least, playing a wind instrument does. Rather than taking the shallow breaths that so many people usually take, when you play a wind instrument you have to take deeper breaths from the diaphragm to be able to play properly. Deep breathing in such a way leads to a stronger respiratory system.
A Sense of Accomplishment
We’re always learning, but as adults we may not feel that we’re making the big strides in learning that we made when we were kids. Sometimes adults lament the things that they wish they’d learned when they were younger. The truth is that learning to play an instrument can happen at any age in life and the sense of accomplishment you get from learning to play as an adult can be even greater than what you may have had as a kid.
If you really want to learn a new skill, it’s never too late. Music has so many advantages for us and those benefits are not kid-exclusive. There are so many reasons to pick up an instrument as an adult. Take the plunge and start reaping the rewards.