Kids often get their first taste of musical instruments in elementary school music class. However, it's never too late to learn how to play a musical instrument or try a new instrument even if you never played in the school band. Older adults who take lessons or teach themselves to create beautiful music could benefit in many ways. Here are some potential pros of trying out an instrument later in life.
All instruments require the use of your hands, whether it's to strum strings, push buttons, cover holes or hold a stick to hit percussion instruments. As you age, your fine motor skills can decrease. Learning a musical instrument that requires you to use fine motor movements may help you maintain them longer since you engage those muscles regularly. Playing instruments can also support your hand-eye coordination since you have to move your hands and fingers in a specific way to get the right sound out of the instrument. It also challenges your brain and motor skills since you typically do different things with each hand. This requires more coordination to pull off successfully.
For some people, playing a musical instrument is relaxing and enjoyable. Playing can also help distract you from other problems or worries. This could help you lower your stress levels. Plus, music is often uplifting and puts people in a good mood. When you're creating music yourself, you can experience that happiness any time. Pulling out your instrument could become an additional coping mechanism when you feel stressed or overwhelmed.
If you play a wind instrument, it can help you with your breathing. You have to learn how to breathe properly, including taking deep breaths to get the instrument to sound right. When you play for long periods of time, you're doing that deeper breathing for longer. This can help you improve your respiratory system overall and can also help you squeeze in a little physical activity. It might not seem like much, but it works your muscles to hold up your instrument and move around to play it.
While learning how to play, you'll need to concentrate on the music and the proper way to play the instrument. You have to focus on the sheet of music and play the corresponding notes correctly. While playing, you need to keep track of the beat and pay attention to when you should play different parts. That can help you improve your overall concentration and focus, which might carry over to other areas of your life.
Musical instruments require some degree of memory. You have to learn and remember how to read music, and you need to memorize the different notes for your instrument. Engaging those memory skills can help keep your mind sharp as you age. Once you retire, you might not have as many opportunities to put your thinking skills and memory to use, so picking up an instrument can help bring more of that back to your life.
Playing a musical instrument gives you a chance to socialize in different ways. If you take music lessons, you get the regular interaction with your instructor. You can find online instructors as well if you can't go to in-person lessons due to health restrictions or transportation issues. You can also play your instruments with other older adults who are also learning. You might start a band or get together to practice. Additionally, playing an instrument can give you something to talk about with new people you meet, especially if they also play an instrument. You might even run into fellow Cambridge Court residents who play the same instrument you do. Plus, it's a fun way to entertain your grandchildren when they visit and help you connect with them.
Some people feel they're too old to learn something new or haven't tried anything new for a long time. When they succeed in learning how to play an instrument, it can create a major sense of accomplishment. Learning some songs can be very challenging, so it pushes you until you achieve success. That success might also encourage them to try other new things and can boost confidence.
Picking up an instrument later in life can let you express yourself and pursue your passions. Unlike a child being forced to take piano lessons, adults who choose to learn have total control over what they play. They might feel a connection to a certain instrument based on their personality or interests that helps them express that. After learning how to play, you can experiment with how you play and what type of music you learn, which also contributes to self-expression.
Playing an instrument doesn't have to be difficult. Seniors can often find music classes at community centers, and music stores often have on-site instructors. However, you can also start on your own at home. Lots of instruction videos are available on YouTube, and you can even download phone apps that offer virtual instrument lessons. You can spend as much or as little time as you want practicing your instrument.