Following on from our last blog about Arts and Crafts, this week we are looking at what benefits you can experience by learning how to play an instrument. If you liked the thought of doing something new this year but art is just not your thing, why not set yourself the challenge of learning how to play an instrument? Maybe you’ve been inspired in the past by the likes of John Bonham, Angus Young and Stevie Wonder or maybe you just want to find a new hobby for 2023, whatever the reason, there are so many benefits from playing an instrument.
Over the last few years we have all faced a lot of unknowns and worry, sometimes it is nice to have a distraction. If you suffer from anxiety, picking up an instrument is scientifically proven to help as it requires 100% of your concentration. As a result, this naturally creates a state of mindfulness and will give you a scene of calm. In turn, this then helps shift any negative thoughts and energy you may be experiencing into something positive.
If you have ever heard of someone call their hobby a form of “escape”, this experience is what they mean by that. When you focus all your attention onto something else for a while, it literally gives you the ability to escape from any thoughts you might have experienced otherwise.
Maybe you have also heard people say that listening to music helps with their depression, this is because it boost’s the brains production of dopamine (the “happy hormone”) and lowers cortisol (the “stress hormone”). Learning an instrument has shown to increase these benefits that one step further due to it being much more immersive than just listening to something. Due to all these scientifically proven benefits, there is an organisation called the ‘British Association for Music Therapy’ that work across hospitals, schools, care homes, prisons and more to improve people’s mental wellbeing.
Whilst it may seem daunting to start, learning something new always takes time and to become good at it obviously takes even longer. By committing to your instrument of choice and slowly improving your ability to play it, it will help improve your overall patience and let’s be honest, patience is a skill we can always do with improving! As you improve with your instrument, no matter your ability or experience, you can never be completely flawless at it. Even Ed Sheeran makes mistakes! Playing an instrument is a skill you can continually develop and improve. Unlike an art project that inevitability comes to an end, playing an instrument something that is always there for you to pick up where you left off.
Another good thing about choosing an instrument as your new hobby, is that age is no excuse! Maybe you've put off your dream of playing ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ in a top hat round your living room as you didn’t learn to play the guitar as a kid but that shouldn’t stop you! As you age, your brain does too, and this is a factor that can impact your mental health. Playing an instrument is considered a “work-out” for your brain by challenging and stimulating it, much the same as working out does for your body. Learning an instrument is one of the few things that requires both sides of your brain! The left side of your brain is for logic-based tasks and the right is for all things creative. By using both sides it helps strengthen your memory retention, so much so that music therapy is used to help alleviate symptoms for Dementia and Alzheimer patients. Another effect of working out your brain is that it also helps improve your sleep. We are failing to see a reason not to pick up an instrument as your new hobby!
Whilst it is possible to learn how to play an instrument on your own these days, why not consider taking up lessons? This is also a way to meet likeminded people by getting involved in group sessions. If you have been inspired to give it a go, Music - SkillSeeder is a good place to help you start on your musical journey! Or maybe you are already a skilled musician and have a talent to share, why don’t you sign up as a skill sharer and teach other people how to play an instrument?