The Benefits of Playing Music
In this article I want to diverge from the usual theory, and talk about the benefits of playing a musical instrument. This is not something that I often have time to discus with students, but in addition to knowing how to practice and how to establish a good practice routine, knowing the benefits of playing an instrument can also be a motivating factor to help students practice. This is also directed at all those adults who think it is too late to start, or that they do not have the time.
Probably the biggest benefit in terms of today’s world is stress reduction. There is nothing like sitting down with your instrument and playing to forget about what ever it may be that is causing you stress, be it homework or your job. Playing music puts you in another state of mind that disconnects you from this kind of feeling, and frees you from your day to day concerns. If you are fortunate enough to have others to play along with, this can be even more relaxing. People who play together in a group over a period of time can often develop an almost telepathic feel for where the music is going, and go there together as a group.
The next time you watch a film, pay attention to how the music is used to make you feel certain emotions, and then imagine how much more powerful that can be for you, if you are the one playing the music. Think about a song that makes you feel relaxed or happy, and then imagine the power of being able to play it yourself. Most songs that have meaning for you, will have even more if you can play them yourself. By actually playing them you have even more of a connection to them. They become a part of you.
I hear a lot of my students parents say that they wish they played, but that it is too late to start, or they do not have the time. When you look at the benefits health-wise to reducing your stress, that alone should be motivation enough. I run into this mind-set a lot with regards to Taichi. People will spend untold dollars on cable, which only contributes to their stress through news and violent programming, but they are not willing to spend anything for their health and well being. Instead of sitting in front of a TV, why not instead spend the time playing an instrument? You would be amazed how this can make you feel more stress free. It is never too late to start. Years ago I had a 71 year old start keyboard lessons, because he always wanted too. The enjoyment he got out of it was really something.
Playing an instrument gives you a bond with others who play the same instrument, as well as enhancing your enjoyment of listening. You will find that there is a "brother/sisterhood" of people who play the same instrument. Playing also made my tastes in music broaden, and I ended up being exposed to many styles of music that I may never have explored, which in turn, got me playing all kinds of instruments. You do not have to play a complex instrument in order to enjoy it. On a recent trip to Sedona, my wife bought me a Native American Flute, and I have been enjoying playing it ever since. The simple beauty of the instrument really put a hook in me, and I not only have purchased several more, but play them for hours on end for the sheer joy of it.
There are many more reasons why you would want to play, but hopefully by now you get the idea. You do not have to be a great musician to have fun playing. The resulting relaxation, increased ability to concentrate, and joy of doing it, are more important than becoming a virtuoso. Give it a try and remember to keep it fun. Through music we can make the world a better place.