April 09, 2015
Why You Should Learn to Play an Instrument in Retirement
If you think you’re too old to learn a musical instrument, think again. Although childhood is often touted as the best time to learn a different language, music included, retirement can be an ideal time to enroll yourself in lessons. Not only do seniors have more time on their hands, but learning an instrument in your golden years can yield a variety of benefits. From enhancing your memory to boosting your mood, here are a few reasons why you should learn to play an instrument in retirement.
It’s a Stress Reducer
Whether you listen to classical music in the bath or enjoy listening to jazz while cooking dinner, listening to music can work wonders to calm you down and improve your mood. According to researchers, those effects are amplified when you’re the one responsible for creating those soothing melodies. Sitting down with an instrument is a great way to blow off steam, and some retirees even use music as a therapeutic tool. According to the Making Music and Wellness Project, playing music decreases both anxiety and depression. The study tracked eighty seniors over the course of five years, and found that the blood tests of those taking lessons indicated a 90% increase in hGH, a hormone which decreases as one ages. Higher hGH levels increase energy, while causing fewer wrinkles and cases of osteoporosis.
Music Can Improve Memory and Hearing
In 2011, Northwestern University studied musicians between the ages of 56-65 and found that their auditory memory and ability to hear speech in noisy environments were better than their non-musician counterparts. The reason? According to researchers, music training actually fine tunes the nervous system, leading to sharper hearing and retention. Not only that, but learning music is one of the best mental workouts available–like Sudoku on steroids. When you learn something new, whether it be music or another language, the area of the brain that’s involved with memory and concentration is stimulated. Plus, cognitively challenging activities are proven to have a positive effect on warding off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
You’ll Meet New People
Life as a retiree can be challenging from a social perspective. Many individuals of retirement age are dealing with empty nest syndrome, and some may have even lost a partner or been through a divorce. Even if you don’t enroll in group lessons, you’ll still have a chance to meet new people. Many music studios throw parties, open mic nights, or recitals so their students can mingle and get to know each other. Although your main interaction will be with your music teacher, after a while you’ll begin to meet other musicians who share a passion for your instrument or the style of music you play. Whether you invite your friends and family members to play with you, perform at community events, or learn an instrument with your grandchild, learning music is a great way to bond with those around you.
Music Can Kill Boredom
If you’re newly retired and aren’t living in a retirement home with tons of activities to take part in, ennui can quickly set in. Think about it: you’re accustomed to working 40+ hours a week, and now you have all that extra time to yourself. Unfortunately, those feelings of boredom aren’t as trivial as they may seem, and they can lead to restlessness, depression, physical deterioration, and loneliness if left “untreated.”. Playing a musical instrument is a great way to focus on something new and alleviate some of the boredom from everyday retirement life, which can be as dull as it is relaxing. Some people might look at learning how to play a musical instrument as an activity that’s best done when still a child, but when it comes to music therapy for seniors, it’s never too late to pick up a musical instrument.
Tips for Getting Started
If you’ve decided to enroll in lessons, you’re making the right choice–and here are some tips to help make the process easier. First, find an instructor who has experience teaching older adults who are beginners. Look for someone who has a good reputation in the community, and if you’d feel more at ease learning in the comfort of your own home, ask whether the instructor is willing to travel to you. It’s important to find an instructor with a positive and uplifting personality, because this individual is the person who will help you stay motivated and enthusiastic about your instrument.
At Music & Arts, we’re accustomed to teaching all age groups–from young children to senior citizens. Learn more about The Lesson Studio here, and visit your local store if you have any questions or are ready to enroll.
photo via Federico Cardoner, CC