We’ve all heard the adage “youth is often wasted on the young,” but I’m willing to bet a lot of piano lessons are too. I’m also willing to bet you’ve said at least once to yourself, “I wish I could play the piano…but I’ve never had lessons.” Why not start now? I know, I know…you’re busy, you can’t read music, you’re too old to begin playing the piano, you’re afraid you’ll look silly, and so forth.
Maybe your dream involves sitting at a grand piano, playing Moonlight Sonata, or perhaps playing a rollicking tune as friends sing along is more your speed. Either way, one of the best things about “adulting” is being in charge of how you choose to spend your time, energy, and resources. One reason learning the piano as an adult can be preferable is your intrinsic motivation—it’s something you choose to do, as opposed to being dragged kicking and screaming by your parents every Tuesday after school.
Setting aside time for learning a musical instrument is no different than carving out time for the gym, salon visits, or bowling league! Plus, it’s good for your brain. Can you say that about bowling?
PLAYING THE PIANO IS GOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN
One very compelling reason to take up the piano as an adult is the effect it has on your brain or neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Music is one of the most demanding cognitive and neural challenges, requiring very accurate timing of multiple actions, control of pitch not involved in language, and multiple ways of producing sound. Sure, it sounds daunting, but even learning basic scales provides these benefits.
In addition to forming new neural connections, playing the piano has also been shown to boost concentration and memory, and studies have shown music to be very beneficial to patients with Alzheimers, further reinforcing the benefits to brain function. (If playing the piano can help me keep track of my keys, I’m all in!)
Musicians also tend to be more perceptive in interpreting emotions than those who have never played an instrument, suggesting that musicians have higher emotional intelligence due to the boost to their listening skills which are necessary for interpreting the music in order to perform it.
Finally, the combined facets of making music at the piano—rhythm, pitch, tempo, the notes themselves, and the tactile and kinesthetic experience of actually playing the keys engages virtually every area of your brain. Playing a musical instrument is perhaps the only activity during which almost all brain areas are simultaneously activated. Developing stronger cognitive function could help stave off dementia, and at the very least you’ll enjoy a higher quality of life as you age due to your active brain.
YOU’VE GOT THE MUSIC IN YOU
Do you believe because you’ve not had formal lessons, you know nothing of music? I’m happy to report that you’re wrong. You have a lifetime of musical experience! You’ve spent years listening to it, singing along, and tapping out beats on the steering wheel. Because of this exposure, you’ll relate new concepts to music you already know, giving you a huge edge over children who are learning to play the same instrument.
In this aspect, age…er, experience definitely beats youth! You already know how something should sound, so you’ll recognize mistakes (and victories) as you learn to play songs you love. Adults can understand the basic structures of music and how they’re inherent in some different songs they listen to and enjoy. With kids, it’s tough to take an abstract approach like that. Score one for the grownups.
ADULTS HAVE SKILLS THAT KIDS DON’T
Ostensibly, adults have developed focus and discipline that kids generally don’t yet possess. You’ll be able to willingly make time to practice, because as an adult, you understand that to become better at the piano, you must spend time practicing it. Whether you’ve played sports, participated in drama, created art, or learned to French braid hair, the common element is practice. Adults have the life experience to know it’s necessary, while children don’t know without being taught how to actually get better at something. Score another for the grownups.
PLAYING A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT RELIEVES STRESS (SOMETHING KIDS DON’T NEED)
Ok, so maybe score one for the youngsters in that they rarely need stress relief, but playing the piano can provide stressed adults a much-needed escape as well as a creative outlet. Music has been proven to release dopamine in reward areas of the brain, the same ones that light up in response to pleasurable experiences like enjoying a fantastic meal. Plus, fewer calories, yay!
There are some mood benefits of music that can help you learn how to play an instrument, too, which come in handy as an adult. (Studies prove this!) Having a positive mood is very good for your cognitive function, for your general well-being, and for being able to sleep, which we know enhances brain function. (Improved cognitive function…sound familiar?)
PLAYING THE PIANO MAKES YOU AWESOME
It has been proven that adults (and children) who take part in musical activities are happier and more sociable than those who don’t. Plus, instead of saying “I wish I could,” you’ll be able to say “I can play that!”, which is awesome. Score one for music…and for you.
*Featured Black and White Image Above Courtesy: https://musicoomph.com/*