Music is a fantastically powerful and influential art form. Many of us have experienced music’s ability to affect our mood or emotions, but have you ever wondered what playing a musical instrument can do for our health and well-being?
From the age of just one-year-old, children who participate in musical activities which focus on percussion and melody exhibit refined early communication skills, and display greater emotional stability than children who did not engage in musical activity .
Older children also benefit significantly from playing music and participating in music classes.
A 2011 study found pre-school aged children’s verbal, cognitive and spatial skills significantly improved due to their engagement in music classes when compared with children their own age who were not involved in music programs .
In addition to its value in aiding childhood development, music is also a wonderful emotional regulator; no matter your age.
Studies have shown listening to music can reliably generate the physical responses associated with happiness, sadness and fear. For example, up-tempo music in a major key generally results in the listener experiencing the physical changes associated with pleasure .
Music also helps us build and maintain relationships and manage stress.
Research has found that singing as part of a group is beneficial in building empathy, trust and relationships with other people through the release of a hormone called oxytocin.
Musical group performance also reduces your sensitivity to pain, and can help regulate mood thanks to the release of the anti-stress hormone, cortisol .
As we age, it is just as important to keep our mind healthy, as it is our body. Music instrument therapy has been used successfully in rehabilitation for stroke sufferers, assisting patients in regaining spatial awareness .
Research shows that exercising the brain helps slow cognitive aging, and helps prevent Alzheimer’s ; and nothing exercises and transforms the brain quite like playing a musical instrument !
While learning a musical instrument may take a little longer later in life, the benefits are unequivocally worth the effort.