We all hear that music soothes the savage beast, but beyond the benefits of hearing music and the personal pride of having the ability to playing one yourself, are there truly “health” benefits to playing a musical instrument, especially one in which you blow through? Join us as we look through some of the most notable benefits to playing a musical instrument. Although we focus on wind and brass instruments for some of the profits, others are enjoyed by playing even the guitar or piano.
Playing an Instrument…
improves your breathing!
Musicians must utilize oxygen efficiently to reach difficult notes and hold them. Musicians are known for exceptional respiratory control, and like singers, most practice a variety of breathing exercises to improve their lung function and increase their endurance. A European study found that child musicians had significantly higher inspiratory and expiratory pressures, suggesting that these types of respiratory exercises could be used to help those suffering from respiratory diseases. Therefore, even casual musicians benefit from the respiratory muscle training used by avid musicians and athletes.
Even playing a little harmonica can make a difference: A simple instrument like the harmonica provides a benefit to breathing which mimics (and supports the value of) respiratory muscle training devices—it offers both inspiratory and exhalatory training, combining this with the ability to make sounds (and music) in both inhalation and exhalation! Strengthen your core and improve posture. When you stand erect, your core muscles can relax without strain, allowing your diaphragm to work effectively.
helps your posture—and your posture helps you play better!
Poor posture impedes on the respiratory system, compromising the diaphragm and ribcage. By improving posture, musicians can inhale completely, providing a longer and fuller breath to exhale into the instrument. Additionally, poor posture strains muscles, disallowing the musician to sit or stand in a stationary position for long periods of time, necessary to participate in concerts and other lengthy musical events.
builds confidence, while reducing stress and increasing happiness.
The simple fact of having a unique ability, a skill not many possess, is a confidence-builder on its own. Possessing a skill which others may enjoy and benefit from increases the value and satisfaction musicians experience. For adults, learning to play an instrument can be especially rewarding, as many have moved beyond their formal education years and the achievements are appreciated even more. Playing an instrument allows those suffering from stress to shift their thoughts and concerns to the act of playing, relaxing the body and lowering blood pressure. Further, just as listening to music makes one happy, playing it only increases the joy!
improves hand-eye coordination, listening and reading skills.
The sheer act of playing any kind of musical instrument improves neural connections. Playing an instrument is known to improve listening skills, including being aware of timing, being on tune, and recognize complex sounds.
good for your brain—helping to maintain memory and improving cognitive function.
This is especially valuable as you age, when these responses tend to slow down. In fact, certain parts of the brain are larger in musicians than in other people. The process of executive functions (EF) are improved in musicians, which can be seen in the ability to quickly process information, solve problems, decision-making abilities, and respond appropriately to changing conditions. Studies have shown how much musical training can impact executive functioning, even years after subjects no longer play a musical instrument. Memory is improved as well as language recognition. Music has been proven to enhance the lives of those suffering from Alzheimer’s, slowing the decline of memory and other mental capabilities.
So not only does playing a musical instrument bring you joy to know you can create something so special, it can benefit your health and improve your life in so many ways. Your brain, nervous system, physical health, listening, hand-eye coordination, and long-term mental capabilities are stronger and protected for many years to come! So, pick up that instrument and play away!