How Playing a Musical Instrument is Good for Your Health

Playing a musical instrument is lots of fun, but it also can be good for you! If you’re dragging your feet about learning to play, keep in mind that it’s not just a way to entertain yourself and your friends. It’s a way to exercise your mind and body and improve your health. Here’s how:

Exercises your mind

What is the link between playing an instrument and cognitive ability? Studies have proven that musicians tend to perform better in cognitive testing than nonmusicians, due to the fact that musicians regularly exercise specific areas of their brain that others do not. Whether you’re shredding on a guitar or blast beating on a drumset, there are a ton of functions going on in your brain helping you hit the tempo, the rhythm, and the pitch, right on the mark. Playing an instrument usually leads to heightened sensory abilities as well, such as listening skills and the ability to perceive sound. Musicians who can read music or standard notation tend to be faster readers and are able to comprehend written language much more efficiently. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be that impressive of an artist, you can still reap the health benefits that come with practicing an instrument: reading, studying, and playing music will keep your mind sharp!

Exercises your body

It definitely takes a certain level of depth perception, hand-eye coordination, and physical strength to play any instrument. Going through motions over and over again and practicing rigorously will help you to maintain certain muscles in your body (depending on which instrument you’re playing). Accurately hitting keys or drums or holding down specific strings in the right place strengthens your grip, torso, posture, and coordination. This can actually make you better at sports, less clumsy, and much more precise in your acute, day-to-day movements in general.

Boosts coordination

With the exception of egg-shakers and your occasional triangle, hand-eye coordination is a must for playing any instrument. The guitar, the violin and the piano to name a few, all require that the musician be capable of remembering exactly where to place each finger. A lot of the time, it is essential for the musician to have accurate finger placement without looking at their hands, due to the fact that they are often trying to read music at the same time. Practicing your instrument will help you start to develop muscle memory, which is essential for having exceptional coordination as a musician. This also plays a huge role when using an instrument that needs precision on a larger scale; like a drum set.

Improves concentration and ability to focus

Music encourages the mind to focus, rewarding the brain by allowing it to control and create sounds. This is why many doctors recommend that people with disorders such as attention deficit disorder (ADD) and autism try playing an instrument. The mental stimulation involved in playing an instrument can lead to both stronger short term and stronger long term memory, which is why it is even believed to promote better lucidity in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Playing an instrument is fun, and often pleasing to the ear, which makes it easy to forget how much is going on in your brain to make it all happen. Whether you realize it or not, reading music, using both hands to do two different things, playing in harmony or along with others, and singing while playing an instrument all take a high level of concentration. The ability to multitask, or focus on multiple aspects of something at once, is a skill that comes along with being a musician.

Reduces stress

Music is used as an emotional outlet for many people. It allows you to mold any feeling, whether it be sadness, anger, guilt, joy, or confusion, into a work of art. In fact, those with extreme depression or anxiety will often use playing an instrument as a coping mechanism because it’s such an amazing coping mechanism. It gives your body and your mind something to focus on together which tends to make people feel immediately calmer. Writing music and lyrics, creating sound, and listening to sound are all extremely expressive and therapeutic activities that make way for a clearer and more relaxed mind.