benefits of learning music

All posts tagged benefits of learning music

For many people, the thought of learning how to play an instrument is daunting, possibly entirely out of reach. So often I hear “Oh, I’ve never been musical” or “Nah, I’m too old.”

IMG_2958I try my best to turn those folks around. You see, I am a believer that everyone has the ability to make music at some level. Just listen to your heartbeat – your body is already giving you rhythm right from the inside. You just need a little confidence kick and allow yourself to be a kid again, in a sense. Set aside your adult worries of “ugh, I can’t get this fast enough” or “I’m embarrassed that I can’t seem to make sense of it.” As adults, we can be very impatient with ourselves!

Learning how to think about music and read music starts as a kind of mathematical/analytical process, deciphering how many beats are in a measure and that the second space on the treble staff is an A, for example. These are the foundational bits that can actually, in many cases, be easier for adults to grasp.

Then there are the more creative and lyrical parts of music, understanding phrasing and dynamics and how a song speaks to us through sound. It’s a fascinating process that, when approached the right way with the right teacher, can be an exciting and rewarding experience.

But so many adults don’t even give it a chance! Or, they can’t find time for it because there are too many other pressing things in their lives, like fitting in their fitness class or running their kids to dance right after work. I totally get it.

But isn’t music worth making time for, too? I mean, you’re doing something for your soul and your wellbeing (research-proven health and brain benefits!) that I would suggest can be an equally important part of taking care of yourself.

10538621_773477946043734_4452203297728217792_nI have had the pleasure of helping adults learn to make music (on the ukulele and the piano) and let me tell you, it’s an interesting experience because these individuals eventually realize that they are capable of far more than they give themselves credit for.

When they have the patience to work at it, they can, in fact, make music! Yes!

Plus, they’re strengthening their mind with the constant “fireworks” of synapses working overtime to process the strange language of written music and translate it into a set of physical movements that somehow produce sound and song. They’re learning to work with others if they’re playing in a group, watching for cues and staying in tune and in time. They’re connecting with emotional places when a musical line triggers a memory or feeling. We’ve even seen that incredible connection with the inspiring research around the simple act of even listening to music and its effect on elderly dementia. Music lives in a special place in our brains that can remain intact when all else is failing. I think that’s a pretty amazing thing.

Music resonates with us on many levels and across cultural and geographical boundaries – remember Bobby McFerrin’s demonstration of our innate understanding of the pentatonic scale in that TED Talk?

Music making is a unique and truly valuable experience that more adults should open their minds to. I challenge you to consider learning an instrument, no matter your age, no matter the instrument. I can guarantee that if you can connect with a teacher who can support your learning effectively, you will have an amazing experience that you’ll carry with you through a lifetime.


2fb1e5b0647671e5927de0437616201eThe beginning of a new year can be a time to refresh and embark on something new. Although “getting healthy” is often on the resolution list for many, it usually refers to things like weight loss, physical exercise or changing eating habits.

But what if part of getting healthy meant doing something for your overall wellbeing? What if you could turn off the stereo and create your own music? What if the word ‘scale’ could mean something to exercise your brain and fingers rather than something you have to step on and avert your eyes?

If that sounds like something that’s more up your alley, then perhaps taking up an instrument should be on your list for 2015!

Learning music is fabulous for your brain and your body: improved coordination, confidence, memory, language skills, creativity…the list goes on and on. Plus, it’s so good for your overall emotional health.  No matter your age, getting a little music in your life is simply a great idea.

But which instrument to choose?

Give some thought to what you naturally gravitate to. Do you think the versatile piano is appealing? What about the friendly ukulele, which gets you started quickly but can offer a lot of challenge, too? Do you love to sing? Do you want to play with others or on your own? Is there an instrument lying around that you’ve always wanted to pick up? What’s in your budget?

The beauty of learning music is that you’re never too old or too young to get started and the options are endless.

Whatever you choose, be prepared that just like investing in your physical health, investing in a musical journey requires some level of dedication, even if it’s just to learn for fun. It doesn’t need to be endless hours of painful practice or boring lessons – the right mix of instrument, teacher and method can make the process a truly enjoyable one so make sure you do your research.

Then get playing and make 2015 your year of music!



There can be a place for music making in the lives of each of us. Music making has the ability to meet many needs and each one just as individual as the person it inhabits.

For some of us, the process of mastering a challenging classical piece fires up our neurons and fills us with energy and focus.Hands Playing Piano

For others, the rewards of learning are found in making music within a group, whether a garage band, community orchestra, song circle or a cappella choir, helping us feel part of something meaningful and teaching us to work “in tune” with others, creating cohesive musical sounds.

There can be literal healing in the making of music, such as in the case of Gabrielle Giffords who, after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head, worked to rebuild her ability to speak through singing therapy.

It can be the outlet for working through challenging times, such as coping with a major life event, depression or illness. Songwriting, in particular, has been known to work miracles here.

Some individuals have never believed they could even be musical. In this instance, the opportunity to simply make music at the most basic level is a thrill.

Music builds minds. It also builds hearts, character, culture and connection.  It offers relief and growth, challenge and reward.  And most of all, it’s a language we can all understand.