Guitars

25 Science-Backed Benefits of Learning An Instrument (2021)

man playing guitar

Playing an instrument is an exciting journey despite the hard work required to master this art. However, the benefits of playing an instrument are far more complex than just passing time.

This activity helps you develop your social skills, enhance creativity, and improve your overall health. It will teach you how to improve your posture and breathing, express your emotions and relax doing the things you enjoy. Let’s delve into this even deeper!

1. Reduces Stress

Some research results indicate that there are many advantages of music listening. Among them, it was scientifically proven that music facilitates the reduction of the psychological stress response. (1)

How many times you felt sad and disappointed but, as soon as the music started to flow, everything seemed right? I could tell you about how music affects the psychobiological stress system. Or maybe how the cortisol levels are influenced by the melodic sounds.

Instead, I will just agree with the researchers and confirm their hypothesis – listening to music always makes us feel better and surely reduces stress.

The study we mentioned reveals that music enhances a faster recovery for those under pressure. Listening to relaxing music before a daunting task improves the stress response.

To summarize, if the daily stress we all experience nowadays is too much for you, let the music adjust your internal mechanisms and make you feel stronger. Perhaps “I will survive” is a good choice for those moments.

2. Cultivates Creativity

When learning to play an instrument, your brain will work in new, creative ways, with the use of sound, sight, and physical feeling, as scientists from Berkeley point out in their article. (2)

Music is one of the most creatively overflowing activities, and when you play live, you are tempted to improvise alone or with others. Trust me, jamming with your fellow musicians is the best activity.

Usually, while playing an instrument and trying different beats, soon enough you will feel inspired to write some fit lyrics. Many musicians are also talented poets.

And there is also dancing. Your public will start tapping their feet and sing along with your band.
Music can also lead to visual creativity. Can you disagree with the fact that music inspired some of the best video artists?

When you practice, it may happen quite often that you will discover new musical phrases. Write them down, so you don’t forget.

3. Increases Memory Capability

Science shows that if you play an instrument, it is likely that you will possess better communication skills. There are multitudes of studies that have found a correlation between the benefits of playing an instrument and improved memory.

Musicians have a far better memory than any other artists. I mean remembering the perfect guitar chords and awesome lyrics at the same time is quite an achievement. The results are even better if you start playing an instrument during early childhood.  

These discoveries have led doctors to believe that playing a musical instrument might help recover memory loss in patients with brain injuries (3). The health benefits of playing an instrument might apply to age-related memory loss as well.  Wouldn’t it be nice to use music in Alzheimer’s treatment?

4. Builds Personal Discipline

To learn an instrument requires discipline and great self-control. As a beginner, you will need a lot of patience, and, most important, you will need to listen to your teacher. Regular rehearsals will help you build personal discipline but also boost your confidence. (4

Notably, the reason why you should learn an instrument is that it requires regular training and thereby forces you to be self-disciplined, persistent, and involved. And these are important qualities to have.

Children who play an instrument are less shy than many of their friends. If you want a disciplined, motivated, and ambitious kid, don’t deny him or her the pleasure of music.

5. Decreases Age-Related Hearing Loss

Getting old means, among other inconveniences, losing your hearing. However, many studies prove that musicians are less susceptible to the deterioration of the auditory cortex. It means they can hear better despite the aging process. (5)

That translates into the fact that older musicians hear as well as younger adults. Playing an instrument creates new neural connections thus enhancing your hearing capabilities.

Who thought that practicing music is like drinking from the fountain of youth? These results also show how playing an instrument benefits your brain, especially in respect of the ability to concentrate for longer periods. Music is a better alternative to neurological stimulants.

6. Improves Your Social Life

Starting from childhood, playing an instrument is a great way to enhance your social skills. The people you are playing with will certainly become your lifelong friends. (6)

You will be appreciated for your performances in front of others, you will be able to cooperate and collaborate, and you will learn sympathy and empathy from playing together.

Although it might not sound too scientific, playing an instrument will boost your confidence and will increase the chances to find your better half.

Music togetherness will lead to the skills of good citizenship also.

7. Develops Patience

Playing a musical instrument develops discipline. Music requires education and regular practice, so patience is an essential ingredient in the learning process. (7)

If you are good at waiting for things, music might just be the career for you.

Playing together with others in a band or orchestra encourages children to learn to wait to play their instrument at the proper time, adjusting to fit their movements with those of the other band members.

When learning to play an instrument, you must find your patience from the process of building calluses, finger strength, and dexterity needed to play the guitar, to the weeks, months, and years needed to fully master the techniques. 

This is especially true if you will record your instrument, and you will naturally face a repetition process until the recorded piece is perfectly registered.

8. Playing Music Improves Your Ability to Discern Sounds

A study shows that early musical training has long-lasting results even when someone hasn’t played an instrument in a long time. (8)

Musicians can quickly understand and discern consonants. This skill becomes particularly handy when learning a foreign language. Ultimately, musicians are better communicators, with a better engagement in conversations.

The same study shows the benefits of playing a musical instrument is that, at any age,  you will hear better in a noisy environment and will react faster because of improvisation, memorization, and playing in tune.

In another study of cognitive functions in elders, the benefits of piano lessons were a robust gain in memory, verbal fluency, speed of processing information, planning ability, and other cognitive functions, compared to those who have not received piano lessons.

9. Playing Music Makes You Happy

Science reveals that music releases a chemical in your brain called dopamine, which not only improves your mood and decreases anxiety, but also helps the production of stress-reducing cortisol, inducing pleasure, joy and motivation. (9)

Interacting with your public while playing brings a special kind of joy. This shared experience requires a lot of hard work and perseverance but the result is worthwhile.

And the interesting thing is that you don’t need to be a top performer to get the public’s attention. How many times did you have a great time listening to some no-name musicians playing a gig in an overcrowded bar?

Music brings people together and makes them happy despite the sound quality or the location.

10. It Builds Your Confidence

Why learn an instrument as a child? Any little thing you learn in your childhood builds up your confidence. (10)

As you advance in mastering your instrument, you will choose a more complex repertoire, and with each successful interpretation, your confidence grows.

Building your confidence is a collective effort as well. With your teacher’s approval, with your parents’ support, and with the cheers of the crowd.

The basis of confidence is the fact that you have put long hours into practice, but also the fact that your interpretation stirs up emotions from your public. 

Each appearance on stage builds your public skills and creates new friendships.

11. Increase Reaction Time

A study led by Simon Landry found significantly faster reaction times in musicians for auditory, tactile, and audio-tactile simulations result suggesting the benefits of playing music is the reduction of reaction time for non-musical auditory, tactile and multisensory stimulations. (11)

Playing musical instruments impacts all the basic sensory processes, thus your reaction time improves. You think faster, react faster, you have a better response to stimuli.

This conclusion leads to a possible strategy using learning to play an instrument as adjunctive therapy for a range of neurological conditions.Playing an instrument benefits in terms of reaction speed, memory, and other cognitive functions.

12. Music Helps the Brain Recover From Injury

A study monitoring rehabilitation after stroke proposed adding an auditory sensory-motor core representation of movements, in addition to conventional treatment. (12)

Patients were taught at an accelerated pace to use movements with a MIDI piano or electronic drum pads over 3 weeks. No patient had any previous musical training.

The results revealed that people who started to play the piano recovered faster than those who were treated with conventional therapies. The mental benefits of playing an instrument reveal that adding music to stroke therapy is a far better approach than standard treatments.

13. Strengthens Your Immune System

It is a well-known fact that music has many benefits for your health. Recent studies have shown that patients suffering from a wide range of diseases, responded better to treatments if music therapy was also included. (13)

Music does not only heal your soul but your body also. Listening or playing music increase the antibodies’ production, boost the immune system efficiency, or alleviate persistent pain.

Premature infants recover faster if they hear music. For example, it looks like Lullaby decreases heart rate while Remo Ocean Disc enhances sleep. Patients that were playing an instrument, singing, etc. reported relief from persistent pain while in palliative care.

14. Improves Posture

Whatever instrument you’ll learn to play, your teacher will correct your posture during lessons. This will help you get into the habit of sitting straight up, having a proper alignment even when you’re not playing. (14)

These are great ways to alleviate neck and back pain.

Playing an instrument leads to increased physical activity. Whether you are playing the piano, guitar, string, or wind instruments, you are using your arms, your back muscles, your lungs to play or hold up your instrument.

You’ll train your respiration habits, you’ll become fitter and if you choose to play the drums, you will even get to do some cardio.

15. Improves Coordination

Musicians typically have great coordination skills. The act of playing any instrument would require you to have sharp hand-eye coordination. (15)

These are the benefits of guitar lessons and the benefits of playing piano, as they teach your HEC (Hand-Eye Coordination) to multitask. When you play music, you’re forced to process multiple senses at once.

This means that you’re consistently practicing your multisensory skills. It’s a challenge, think about a piano player who, with the right hand, plays some notes, and the left-hand others.

It should not come as a surprise that musicians who have undergone years of practice are more adept at differentiating between different senses. Another advantage is that it is done with superior focus.

16. Strengthens Concentration

By strengthening the brain’s gray matter, playing a musical instrument also helps in focusing and concentrating for longer periods. (16)

As a musician and instrument player you must be able to listen in on the beat, rhythm, texture, timbre, and so on. 

The only thing more beneficial than concentrating on your parts as an artist is concentrating on the sounds of a band. Being in a musical group further boosts these concentration skills by making you focus on the harmony of the whole.

You can’t become a good musician without investing hours and hours of concentration and focus into your instrument. It’s no wonder that these skills spill over into other areas of life, too.

17. Improves Reading Skills

Does playing a musical instrument make you smarter? While we are not very sure, a study showed that learning to sing or to play an instrument can improve the language and reading skills of disadvantaged children. (17)

The benefits of learning an instrument and musical training are capable of strengthening your neural capabilities and the connection with sound and reading of children in impoverished areas.

The ability to learn is influenced by learning an instrument, this kind of training altering the nervous system and helping surpass the academic gap.

After two years of research, the students with musical training were faster and more precise in hearing speech in noisy environments, had a better ability to concentrate, and retained their reading skills.

18. Develops Performance Skills

Being able to play an instrument requires a lot of practice. For a convincing performance, you have to have clear artistic ideas and manage the stress involved with appearing on stage. (18)

You must prepare mentally with positive feelings, concentration, and enjoyment. You have to like the music you play, appreciate your bandmates and your audience.

As a musician, you have to feel a deep connection to the music, have empathy with fellow performers, and embrace the challenges with happiness and optimism, the focus being to awaken the public’s excitement.  

Each and every occasion to perform will have its own set of challenges, but if you rehearse enough, everything will go to plan.

19. Better Academic Achievements

Researchers believe that music can be a great booster for high school students. (19

A new study published in the JEP (Journal of Educational Psychology) reports that high school students that play an instrument are better in science, math, and English exams, compared to their non-musical peers.

Indeed, numbers can be easily translated into music and vice versa. And it is also a universal language.

Researchers argue that there is something special about the music itself that benefits the students. The differences in exam grades between the two categories were consistent regardless of prior academic achievements in previous years.

20. Self-Expression

Studies show that musicians communicate emotions to an audience better than others. What is still unclear is how musical practice affects perceived emotions and expressiveness from music. (20)

The present study contributes to the emerging literature regarding the relationship between musical expertise and expressiveness/emotion perception from music.

Why you should play an instrument? Because it will help you better communicate your emotions. Music is the language chosen by shy people or those who find it difficult to express a certain feeling.

Music might be an effective therapy for those who experience socio-emotional disorders.

Strong emotions such as happiness, sadness, or rage are better expressed through music. However, these are not the only feelings that music reveals. This is where a musician’s talent steps in.

21. Exposes to New Cultures

Through music, people also discover history and geography. Studying different ages and styles of music, performers journey through royal courts and peasants’ houses, being inspired by ages long gone. (21)

Traveling to different geographical locations, one may discover different instruments, play styles, and the nature of folk music that emerges from every nation.

Folk music is one of the best roots for improvisation, stirring creativity and an enticing curiosity to play these unique, traditional instruments. 

A curious musician can imagine world maps with the use of instruments( i.e banjo, sitar, didgeridoo), rhythms (gospel, bossa nova, tabla), and dances (i.e. sirtaki, fandango, capoeira, polka).

22. Promotes Math Skills

Previous research has tied learning instruments to mathematical achievement, but this is highly debated. (22)

Playing an instrument benefits your understanding of concepts such as fractions and ratios, which are important for mathematical achievement. 

A proper connection between music and math—whether formal training promotes mathematical ability, or mathematical skill influences playability– via the constant changing of motions to the change in tempo and key– remains unclear.

Students who have formal musical training are revealed to have better mathematics grades in standardized test scores, compared to students that have not studied music. Not all studies have found an association between these two skill sets, however.

Personally, I was never very good at math, but when I started learning the guitar and writing sheet music for other songs than my own, taught me the importance of math in music. Any music.

23. Increases Emotional Perception

Music is one of the most profound methods of communicating emotion. The type of emotion-induced is dependent on the composition, instrumentation, tempo, and the way the song is interpreted by the musician. (23)

The benefits of playing guitar, for example, are that the palette of emotions that can be transmitted is one of the widest, being able to perform anything from folk songs, classical pieces to heavy metal.

Studies have demonstrated that even computer-synthesized musical performances may communicate emotions as reliable as “real performers”.

Music can be used in influencing the cognitive state of people suffering from autism and cognitive impairment.

24. Improves Time-Management Skills

The benefits of playing an instrument for adults is that it teaches you how to optimize your time. (24)

Learning to play an instrument will train you to have a clearer schedule to achieve better performance. If you play an instrument in a larger group, you will be forced to negotiate between your and the group’s timetable.

Time management skills are some of the most wanted qualities among the top employers. Why not look at music playing as a great way to prepare for an interview? Or maybe just learning how to better schedule your activities so you could accomplish as many as possible during a short amount of time. 

If you play in a group, it is essential to be in tune with the other members and pay attention to the conductor, not just play your part.

25. Develops Music Appreciation

According to Aristotle, music is cultivated for the sake of pleasure, but originally it was included in education, not for necessity or utility, but for intellectual enjoyment in leisure: “The bard who would delight them all.” (25)

Aristotle believes that playing instruments requires “extraordinary skill of hand”. Music is an important part of social gatherings and entertainments, making the hearts of men glad.

The philosopher states that music can contribute to virtue and is founded on two things: its ability to form your/our minds, that is to move us, and its ability to habituate us to true pleasures, “song to mortals of all things the sweetest.”.

As you can see, music was a crucial factor in humanity’s development. Scientists and philosophers alike agree on music’s importance. Who are we to disagree with them?

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