There has been an explosion of people taking up instruments during the latest lockdown in Australia's cities. Research has shown that for children and adults alike, there are numerous benefits to taking up an instrument during these troubled times. The fact of the matter is, there has never been a better time to learn an instrument.
Music Helps Forge Durable Routines & Self Discipline
A routine is especially important during periods uncertainty. Improving and having a deeper understanding of the music your playing requires practice. Effective practice requires a routine that fits the needs of our life, Whether that be fifteen minutes, or an hour. This can provide a pivot point for the rest of your day, pulling together your other obligations or providing much needed respite from your existing lockdown routine.
For children, creating and sticking to routines helps promote a self-discipline in a way that few other activities can. This can translate into better study habits later in life.
Playing Music Fosters Resilience, and an Earned Sense of Achievement
People are hardwired to recognise patterns, and solve problems. In fact, our brain rewards us with a little hit of dopamine when we do master a challenging problem. Video Games are a popular lockdown pastime for this reason, especially for children. Video games present players with a progressive series of achievable challenges, giving them the same sense of achievement they'd have from solving problems in the physical world.
Like video games, learning an instrument presents students with a set of attainable goals that, when achieved produce a feeling of wellbeing. However, music is not "designed" to produce dopamine like video games. Things can be challenging at times, and this helps teach children resilience, the ability to persevere with a difficult task.
Life is not designed like a video game, with a set of challenges designed to be achievable in order. It has no structure. It is messy. Practical problems require and reward you with an earned sense of achievement in return. Music is one of the best ways for young people to learn this invaluable skill.
It's a Great Time to Learn New Skills
Whether you’ve played for many years, starting from scratch, or returning to music after an extended break, there are always new skills to learn.
With many moving from a daily commute to a laptop and pyjama pants, it is easier to to fit s new activity into your routine. Taking up music allows you to form new neural pathways, test your capabilities and discover a new passion. That time on Netflix could just as easily be used to foster a new, lifelong skill.
For lifelong musicians, playing in lockdown allows you to indulge in your favourite hobby, developing new skills and polishing old ones. This could be the time you finally take your playing to the next level.
If you are returning to music, you will probably be surprised by how quickly you pick things up again. If you've ever thought you might like to dust off the old guitar or keyboard, You will never have better control of your routine than you do today - now is the time!
Playing Music Stimulates the Brain
Music stimulates the brain. By picking up and practising an instrument regularly, new parts of your brain are working out, from this our brains memory and concentration are improved. Understanding the rhythm and timing of tunes involves problem solving skills as well as comprehension skills of reading the music.
Playing Music Relives Stress
Music is an amazing stress reliever. Music has the ability to effect our emotions in unique ways. As psychologist Jane Collingwood states “Music has a beneficial effect on our physiological functions… decreasing the level of stress hormones.”
For adults, playing music has shown results of lower blood pressure, lower stress levels and reduced anxiety and depression according to the Chair of music at Berkley university.
Music allows you to just focus on what you are playing allowing you to be in the moment.
Playing Music Is a Form of Self-Expression
Music allows you to express your emotions without saying anything, whether that be in a complex or simple way. Instead of trying to find the “right” words to say, music allows us to convey how we feel.
Starting a New Instrument
If you want to take up music, there is no better time than now. Here a few simple steps to get you started
(i) pick an instrument
(ii) Practice regularly for short periods of time
(iii) set goals that are achievable and realistic to you
(iv) get playing!
Now more than ever, there are many ways to learn an instrument as everyone adapts to learning in new ways in the comfort of their homes. Its never too late to start!
Overall, there are many benefits to starting an instrument in lockdown but it all starts with just picking it up and having a go. I wish you the best of luck!