19th century English politician and writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton was quoted saying that “music, when admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies”. Playing an instrument provide musicians a plethora of benefits that range from improved cognitive ability to expression of self, helping individuals connect with their human spirit and bring joy to the wider community. Here are 10 reasons why playing an instrument is important and is beneficial for an improved lifestyle.
#1. Improves coordination
Playing an instrument require musicians to use continuously refine their hand-eye coordination, as musicians need to read musical notes on a score of music while simultaneously converting the written notes into specific motor patterns on the instrument. In addition to this, musicians must also incorporate rhythm and phrasing to give shape and nuance to the music.
#2. Increases cognitive ability
Several studies have found that playing an instrument is correlated with academic success. Learning to play an instrument stimulates the brain and improves human memory and reasoning skills, which are essential in both academic disciplines and everyday life. As musicians hold the enhanced skills to integrate sensory information through touch, sight and hearing, this invigorates the brain and leads to improved cognitive ability.
#3. Increases memory capacity
As musicians are often required to perform works by heart, playing an instrument will help to improve both cognitive memory and muscle memory. Musicians use both the right and left spheres of the brain, which makes the brain work harder and ultimately improve the memory capacity of instrumentalists. As both the peripheral and central nervous systems of the human body are being stimulated simultaneously, this helps the brain to process sensory, visual and auditory information at a greater pace, ultimately increasing memory capacity.
#4. Increases mathematical ability
Due to the structured and mathematical nature of music, playing an instrument improves mathematical ability. Rhythms and counting rests are integral to create a cohesive and structured sound and music theory incorporates several mathematical aspects, such as subdivisions and spatial-temporal reasoning. In fact, several studies have found that students who play an instrument often have higher grades in math than students who don’t.
#5. Sharpens concentration
Playing an instrument require musicians to concentrate on multiple aspects of music simultaneously, such as rhythm, tempo, quality of sound, intonation and duration. Doing this requires a high level of concentration, and this level of concentration amplifies when playing in an ensemble. Not only do musicians need to focus on their sound, they also need to listen to the other instruments in the group and match the timbre and articulations with other players in order to create a cohesive sound.
#6. Enhances communication and social skills
As music is a communal activity, playing an instrument will allow musicians to join bands, ensembles and orchestras, which provide a new avenue to meet like-minded musicians. By joining a musical ensemble, musicians are exposed to a variety of musicians with different background, ultimately improving communication skills. Furthermore, by being surrounded by new people, this enables musicians to develop their leadership ability and build upon their inter-personal skills in an educational and creative environment.
#7. Teaches discipline and patience
Despite the fun playing an instrument provides to musicians, playing an instrument can be physically and mentally challenging. To overcome musical challenges, musicians must learn to practice their craft every day and work on the difficult passages of music, ultimately honing skills of patience and discipline. As playing an instrument requires a high level of dedication, time and effort, this will help musicians to understand that being skilled at something requires them to put in hours of practice and discipline.
#8. Stimulates creativity
Alongside the cognitive aspects of perfecting a piece of music, music is a creative medium that allow musicians to express themselves in a unique medium. Musicians are free to explore different kinds of interpretations of works and put their personality into the music, and this stimulation of creativity can extend to other parts of music, such as writing, art and cooking.
#9. Improves teamwork ability
Cooperation and teamwork are integral aspects of playing an instrument as musicians often play in bands, ensembles and orchestras. In these group settings, musicians must learn to work with other people and compromise musical interpretations of works, alongside listening to different sections of the bands to understand where their part plays in the bigger picture of the music.
#10. Improves time management skills
Playing an instrument require musicians to manage their time and practice wisely, as quality of practice time is significantly more important and valuable than quantity of practice. To improve their musical progress, instrumentalists need a high level of time management skills to effectively organize their practice schedule and plan on what aspects of music to work on each practice session in order to make efficient use of time.