Studies continually show all kinds of mental and physical benefits are gained in picking up an instrument.
I was in 4th grade when I took my first piano lesson. I wanted to have at least one class with my twin cousins and we all agreed on taking a piano class. We would sit with legs dangling and feet barely touching the floor 2 to a bench and plunk out these crafty duets with each other or the teacher, the wonderful Ms. Allison Hicks. We were fortunate to have piano class during the school day all the way through 6th grade.
Piano lessons for me didn’t take place again formally until I matriculated to the highest of 7 hills in Tallahassee, FL at Florida A&M University. There, I was fortunate enough to receive instruction from Julliard graduate, Dr. Maria Thompson-Corley.
Cognitive abilities lessen as we age, but learning a musical instrument can be a fantastic way to work out the mind. Research proves that learning to play and sing soothes the seasoned (read aged) body and stokes the flame that ignites the soul. It’s been a while since I’ve been in the 4th grade (let’s just say that Jheri curls may have been a thing around that time) and I’m old enough now that I have my own 4th grader.
Finer Physical Health
A five-year study conducted by the Music Making and Wellness Project involved music experts from universities and colleges across the country. Their research revealed that the level of human growth hormone (HGH) increased 90 percent in seniors who were given keyboard lessons. HGH can turn back your body’s internal clock and helps to slow many aging conditions such as osteoporosis, aches and pains, and loss of muscle mass. HGH decreases as we age. By the time you reach 40, your HGH levels can decrease by as much as 50 percent.
Superior Mental Health
Many of us are well aware that listening to music relaxes the mind and reduces depression and anxiety. Whether you play your set list for working out or soak in the tub to the tunes of your favorite online streaming platform the result is the same. However, when you physically play music, the positive effect is personally more satisfying and powerful because you are the source of the sound. There is greater instant gratification and personal reward in pressing the keys of a piano or strumming the strings of the guitar for yourself.
When compared to other traditional relaxing activities, such as reading a newspaper, playing a musical instrument garners the greater reduction in stress.
Many adults may have the dedication and discipline that my 4th-grade self may have lacked, but it’s important for those adults to tap into the mind of a 4th grader. Our age has caused some of us to be more analytical and less “free” and forgiving. When my 4th-grade self made a mistake, I just kept things moving and made no big deal of it. I enjoyed the music I was making and the process it took to be better at it. As adults, it’s important to remember to take pleasure in the learning process.
My 4th grade and college selves also had the benefit of awesome instructors who provided engaging and meaningful instruction. You gotta have a great teacher if you wanna learn. In your search for an instructor opt for a free trial lesson to see if the two of you actually vibe. In the same vein, don’t ask someone who specializes in Russian folk songs to teach you musical theater. You want to try and find someone who most closely matches your own goals and interests.
Finding an Ideal Instrument
Did you say, “I don’t know what instrument to even start on.”? The answer is that you start on the instrument that you’re most excited about. You don’t want to start out learning to play accordion when you know deep down you’ve always had an affinity for the bagpipes. Go for the low hanging fruit.
Piano and guitar may be your most ideal gateway instruments because they often require minimal movement to generate a pleasing sound. More intricate instruments, like the violin, are more complex and have special physical demands. Make sure that you’re focusing more on the joy in the music making than the music technique itself regardless of your instrument choice.
I’m so very glad that my cousins and I decided to take piano lessons in the 4th grade. I’m 3 years shy of 40 and I’m currently enrolled at Berklee College of Music Online pursuing a Master Certificate in Music Production & Technology. I’ve earned straight A’s in every class and I still have fun in making my musical mistakes. Life is good. What music lessons are you gonna take?
Takenya Battle is the proud Owner of Kenya’s Keys, LLC.