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Music Therapy: The Benefits of Music

We all know that life can be hectic and overwhelming. By practicing music, even the busiest person can hit two birds with one stone. Music positively impacts health in so many ways -- we should never cut it from our routines.

We rush from activity to activity throughout the day, rarely making time for ourselves. When we think about making time for something as nourishing as practicing music, it may feel too selfish. Often, learning a musical instrument gets put at the end of a to-do list.

It can be difficult to justify spending time on our music with other responsibilities adding up. We may have your newest reason to pick up your instrument again: playing music is good for your health.

Music is well-known for its ability to lower our stress levels and improve our mood. The 2017 American Psychological Association report “Stress in America” reports that on a scale from 1 to 10, Americans rate their stress level at a 4.8, with 75% reporting at least one symptom of stress in the previous month.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 18% of American adults experience an anxiety disorder each year, while 7% experience a major depression. All of this points to the need to find healthy coping mechanisms. Playing an instrument can be just the thing to shake off the cares of the world. And with our younger generations being the most stressed, it is a perfect opportunity to teach our children appropriate stress management activities.

As the world population ages, it becomes increasingly clear that the habits of our youth have a significant impact on our health after 65. One study gave neuropsychological tests to seniors with varying lengths of experience playing an instrument. Those with ten or more years scored the best; those with none scored the worst; and those with 1-9 years of study scored in the middle.

Already over 65? It’s not too late! Another study taught seniors piano for six months, after which they showed strong gains in memory, verbal fluency, and other cognitive functions. The bottom line is that just as we work out our bodies, we need to work out our minds.

Should we consider our time making music just as vital for our long-term health as regular exercise? The studies say yes! So dust off your instrument and play on!