Why Seniors Are Learning an Instrument in Retirement
Music is an integral part of everyone’s life. Babies can hear and react to music in utero. Seniors with dementia, even after their symptoms progress past being able to verbally communicate, still smile when they hear their favorite song. So is it any wonder that learning an instrument — no matter how old you are — can have profound benefits?
Yes, learning an instrument can be easier when you’re younger, because children’s brains are growing new cells all the time, and adults have to work with the brain cells they already have to create new connections between them. But when you begin playing an instrument, attitude and patience is more important than ability … something a lifetime of diligently pursuing your goals can give you.
Many seniors find retirement affords them the time they didn’t have when they were busy with family and work obligations to learn a new hobby. If you can overcome your fear of failure and are willing to practice and settle for something less than virtuosity, there are real benefits of playing an instrument.
More and more research is showing our brains aren’t as fixed as we once thought. In fact, research shows seniors can improve their motor learning — their rate of learning new things — in environments that are novel and flexible. Of course juggling or knitting is novel, but the advantages of learning an instrument can be found in the wide range of skills required to play. Those benefits include:
Brain benefits: According to research, the benefits of playing a musical instrument for the brain include making synapses fire all over your brain. That’s because learning to play a musical instrument is an extremely complex task that involves the eyes, ears and hands. In contrast, most other activities only use a few areas of the brain at a time.
Finger workout: Learning to play an instrument such as the piano or guitar involves many complex finger sequencing and coordination tasks. So it’s a great way to learn to move fingers independently.
Immune system boost: Music programs are linked to improvements in the body’s immune system by increasing the body's production of the antibody immunoglobulin A and natural killer cells that attack invading viruses. Music also reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Your instrument reflects your personality: Maybe you had music lessons as a kid, but it was an instrument someone else chose for you. Now is the time to select something for yourself. Maybe you’ve always wanted to play the drums. Or you grew up idolizing guitar players. Maybe you secretly want to be a DJ. This is the time to do what you want.
Increased socialization: Looking for a way to meet new people? Learn to play an instrument. You’ll slowly meet people who appreciate your style of music or even play the same instrument you do. Who knows? After a bit of practice, you may even decide to join a band or start one of your own.
Build self-esteem: Learning an instrument is one of the best ways to build your confidence. For starters, it’s something you can do from the comfort of home. There are tons of online courses that can teach you anything from guitar to electronic music production. Every note you play is proof that you can do anything that you set your mind to.
Got a song in your heart?
At Cypress Village, you’ll find a wide range of friendly neighbors pursuing their favorite pastimes and learning new skills. If you’re ready to add a soundtrack to your life by becoming involved in one of the musical activities on our campus, or you want to take advantage of the many benefits of learning an instrument, contact us here.