Music is one of the defining characteristics of humanity. It is so ingrained in us that it permeates throughout all cultures, in all corners of the world. It is the universal language, and can be essential to health and well being.
This is common knowledge, and there’s already a myriad of articles out there with lists of all the health benefits of listening to music, we all know how powerful a tool it can be, so I’ll spare you that overdone rhetoric here. Today, I want to talk about the importance of making music.
There’s a distinct difference between listening to music and making it- and where listening can help relieve stress, provide motivation, and bring back fond memories, the things that making music can accomplish are astounding.
Now, if you’ve never played an instrument in your life, then you’re likely thinking “great, what good does that do me? ” Well, I would encourage you to seriously consider learning an instrument, it’s not as hard as it seems initially, and there’s so much good that comes from it. And let’s not forget, the voice counts, and most of us already have that instrument, no purchase necessary.
So let’s get in to all the ways that making music makes us better.
Boosts the Immune System
That’s right, either actively listening to music or playing an instrument can increase your bodies defense against infections, as well as reduce cortisol levels (that ugly stuff that makes you feel stressed). And studies have shown that making music works better.
So, on those days when you’re feeling a little under the weather, don’t skip your practice. It could be the thing that turns the tide against that infection.
Calibrates Your Hearing
Playing an instrument trains your ear to listen for small and distinct sound changes, especially if you’re playing with a group. This skill transfers to other aspects of life, improving your ability to pick out specific sounds from chaotic noises, and thereby improving your hearing all together.
Boosts Intelligence and Memory
Yes, it makes you smarter. Not just passively, or by some esoteric measure. The areas of our brains that are involved with playing an instrument (memory, auditory [hearing], motor skills, and cognitive reasoning) all become larger, with better connections.
As such, the brains of musicians are physically different than those of non-musical people. They are more naturally gifted with memory skills, logical reasoning, and even emotional perception.
This one goes hand-in-hand with the previous; that increase in logical reasoning skills, yea, that gives quite a boost to your mathematical reasoning abilities.
Playing an instrument trains your brain much like playing brain games, but with full brain involvement on multiple fronts; like brain games on steroids.
Therapeutic: self expressive
Musical intervention is a common practice in therapeutic treatments for people with mental or emotional ailments. The ways in which learning to make music require control of physical abilities and emotional input can provide individuals with tools for growth and development beyond what many classic therapeutic techniques can achieve.
The walls it breaks down to generate greater connectivity with others, and the outlets it provides for self expression are unparalleled by other alternative treatments. It’s amazing how the world can be opened and expanded just by putting an instrument into someone’s hands.
Time Management and Organization
Keeping a scheduled routine of practice sessions, lessons, and performances (if you play at the level to perform for others) will help to strengthen and develop your organizational skills, and this will spill over into other aspects of your life- like music tends to do.
And on the note of performance, many communities have community bands, or other smaller groups that will meet and play on regular schedules. Myself and my daughter are active in a local ukulele group that meets every couple of weeks to perform songs together, no audience but still a lot of fun. And if your community doesn’t have anything, you could always be the one to start it.
Get out there, mingle, make music.
Trains Patience and Perseverance
Learning an instrument takes patience, this is true. I believe it is very important to begin learning with an instructor; either as a kid in the school band or orchestra, or as an adult getting lessons in the back at the local music store. Whatever avenue is available to you, it is always better to have a teacher, this will prevent you from giving up.
Because learning an instrument isn’t easy, and you will have to learn perseverance and patience to succeed, so, it’s not so much that it passively helps to strengthen these traits, but rather, learning an instrument dictates that you learn these traits. And when you play a musical instrument, your learning never ends; the world of music is limitless.
Broadens Your Cultural Window
In playing an instrument, you’re becoming a piece of history. Okay, that sounds a bit corny. But musical theory has been under development since the 1st century, and has touched, and been contributed to, by every culture in the world.
There isn’t a way to avoid the world around you as you continue to learn more about music, instrumentation, and theory. The entirety of the world surrounds you daily until it becomes a part of you.
Creates an Outlet: improves mood
Playing an instruments provides an outlet that can be catered to your immediate needs. Whether you’re feeling stressed, depressed, anxious, or overjoyed, music can be the vessel to satiate your soul.
It can be a commiserate friend, a cathartic scream, a bout of laughter, or a tranquil lullaby. And when you’re the one making the music, it means so much more than merely listening.
So Make Some Music
Get out there, pick up an instrument, and start making your own music. The world still needs more, and always will.