Learning a musical instrument is just one of those things we’d all love to do, but most of us never quite get to the bit where we actually start to learn. So as we approach the time of the year when we resolve to do better, here’s a few reasons why you should just go for it…
One of the main reasons to start learning a musical instrument is that playing actually reduces your stress levels. Researchers at Stanford University found that while listening to music can help to change an individual’s mood, playing an instrument actually lowers the heart rate and blood pressure, reducing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. The main reason for this is that playing an instrument requires so much of our concentration, that stressful thoughts tends to get pushed out of our minds entirely.
Learning to play a musical instrument can also help to improve our confidence levels. As your music playing goes from strength to strength and you are able to play more pieces and even perform in front of others, you will get a huge boost confidence, which you can then replicate in other areas of your life where you previously struggled to feel confident. Once you become confident in one skill, such as playing the piano for example, your achievements can make you feel more confident about other, unrelated skills, such as public speaking for example.
Not only does playing an instrument require us to retain a lot of information, such as where our fingers should go or which notes we should be playing, but, according to Dartmouth College, music actually helps us to remember other pieces of information. For example, if you are struggling to remember certain dates, adding them to a melody that you are playing will help you remember them that much faster.
If you are committed to learning a musical instrument, the process will require you to put in the hours to practice and dedication to improve your playing. By arranging your day to fit in with music practice, not only are you going to become more organised, but your self-discipline will also improve, as will your perseverance – two skills which you can apply to any areas of your personal or professional life.
Once you have mastered the basics of music, it is a natural step to start taking the chords and melodies that you learnt and morphing them into your own pieces of music. As music engages more than one sense, from the physical, to the cognitive and emotional, it can help us to think outside the box and you might even find that while you practice, a solution to a completely unrelated issue might come to you almost out of nowhere.
Sense of Achievement
As you learn each piece of music, you will go from playing it for the first time and making mistakes, to eventually playing it flawlessly, no matter how difficult it seemed at first. The first time you play the piece without any mistakes will give you a huge sense of achievement and pride, inspiring you to keep pushing yourself in other areas that you previously struggled.
Last but not least, learning to play a musical instrument is incredibly fun. Music can change the way we feel, from angry to calm or from sad to happy and hearing yourself perform a piece of music flawlessly is a great feeling. Additionally, once you are comfortable with an instrument, you can start playing with others, whether to form a band or just for fun, which can provide you with new, long-lasting friends.
Dr Florian Plenge is the Co-Founder and CEO of Berlin-based start-up, Skoove, a browser-based piano-learning platform that analyses, through a computer’s microphone, whether music students are hitting the right notes. Since its launch in November 2015, Skoove (a product of Microsoft Ventures Berlin accelerator), has provided over 100,000 lessons to consumers learning piano, from beginners to players with existing experience, in 187 countries.