The hidden benefits of learning an instrument

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Ethan Laurin, Staff Writer

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Music. It is an important part of culture, and since the beginning of time artists have used music to express themselves, and share their message with the world. While listening to music has shown to have its own positive effects on well being, is it possible that playing the instrument could have its own plethora of benefits, such as fighting off the signs of mental decay, and can stimulate the brain in numerous ways. 

The benefits of playing an instrument are vast. According to John Dani, PhD, chair of Neuroscience at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, playing an instrument can actually help to strengthen the brain. This is because the action of playing an instrument activates every major part of the central nervous system. While playing an instrument, both sides of the brain are being tapped into simultaneously, which has proven to be beneficial to all age ranges.  

For a child whose brain is rapidly developing, learning an instrument can be an incredible tool for accelerated growth. Learning an instrument can help boost language skills. This is because when playing an instrument, you are engaging the left side of your brain that is responsible for comprehension and reasoning, which can help to learn verbal memory and literacy. Music can also help with mathematical skills as well. Music can even help with mathematical skills as well. Children who study music have actually been proven to have better spatial awareness which can be used to help create mental images that is an important aspect in elevated mathematics. Learning an instrument can also help with building discipline since it is necessary to carve time out to be dedicated to learning that instrument. It can even help with developing a good posture, since most instruments require good posture to play effectively. 

Even for someone who is at a more advanced stage of life, learning an instrument can still be a benefit, and can actually help combat the side effects of an aging brain. For example, learning an instrument can help boost concentration and mental clarity. A study at Penn university shows that people who started playing the piano between the ages of sixty to eighty five for a mere six months, showed signs of increased memory gain and faster processing time. Learning an instrument has also been associated with increased muscle coordination, which can help to keep dexterity and motor skills fresh. 

As the most famous bands have shown, learning an instrument can also have positive effects on emotional well being. Playing an instrument can actually help to increase your social life, and connect with others who are also passionate about music. This can lead to meeting new people, or can help to strengthen a bond though the experience of creating music together. 

Playing an instrument can also be used as a stress reliever, and can help as a positive outlet for dealing with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. Studies show that those who   learn an instrument have the ability to boost self esteem due to the routine of learning a new instrument. Learning an instrument has also proven to have positive effects on those who suffer from PTSD. Studies show that those who have learned an instrument while suffering from PTSD, have seen a twenty one percent increase in improvement from PTSD symptoms, and a twenty seven percent decrease in depression symptoms. 

The beauty of playing an instrument is that it is never too late to start, and with the gift of the Internet, there are thousands of ways to learn through various forms of online instruction. In a time where most find themselves stuck at home, learning an instrument is a gratifying and productive way to kill the excess of free time. So instead of just seeing that instrument collecting dust in the corner of the room as just an instrument or challenge, see it is a challenge of self improvement, and the possibility of a new found passion.  Learning an instrument is a testament to a healthy habit, that is also fun.