Music has been always known for relaxing and rejuvenating the mind. Tapping deeply and provoking our innate ability to self-calm, focus and even for a moment let everything that troubles us drift away.
But what about those that practice playing music? How are they affected by this? To what extent does this benefit them, and is the effect any different from those who like only to listen?
To answer this question, we don’t necessarily need to know much about medicine, and latest studies. Only an objective glimpse over things can give us the picture.
I’ve also experienced many of the benefits by playing the violin for something over twelve years.
Let’s start by ancient times, when only handful of individuals were been able to (or as some like to say, were been gifted to) play. It was believed then that all those people were not only artistically ahead of others, but also intellectually quite more developed. And this was not the case. Playing the instruments is what gave them more in artistic expression, and intellectual growth in general, not vice versa.
And recognizing this fact over time made people more and more interested in playing some instrument, no matter whether we are talking this as a hobby, or even something more.
So how does playing an instrument add to our quality of lifestyle in general, and are we talking about benefit on long or short terms?
- One of the most important things playing an instrument does, is affecting the problem solving skills. Keeping the tempo while playing the music is known to build consistency in our level of concentration- something that is very hard to achieve today. And because the music is something that can be witnessed if played wrong, those who play tend not to step over problems that occur in the performance, but rather give them a lot of undivided attention. This in turn forms a problem solving pattern that expands even outside of the practicing time.
- Practicing an instrument, even as a hobby gives a lot of focus. If compared to something, we can say that it’s very similar to meditating. Dwelling deeply into the abstract field of music gives the mind inner concentration and focus that surpasses that when concentrating on concrete things. That in turn makes us more focused when we are dealing with everyday situations, and we tilt towards that meditative state of mind more than before.
- For professional musicians practicing gives structure and forms a routine, habit for staying concentrated and engaged into something. And what this does is giving them the ability to signal their brain order for it to become fully engaged into what is about to take place. It acts as a trigger that evokes immense brain activity. That trigger may later be memorized as something independent of the activity and used to provoke the same results even outside the practicing session. But don’t think that this goes for professional musicians only. You don’t need to be waking up early in order to practice many hours to gain similar benefits. Even adopting playing some instrument as a hobby can give you some of that structure, routine, awakes a trigger that will later switch you from not, to fully concentrated within seconds. Trust me, I know this. I played the violin for more than twelve years. Now with practicing as my hobby, I tell you that you can get similar benefits as to playing professionally.
- Another thing that practicing an instrument gives you is being more confident in yourself. Maybe sounding strange to some, this is actually very true. The egocentric character of some musicians is maybe enough to let us understand this. And it’s the same with people that practice as a hobby. They tend to take much pride in their playing, no matter what level they are at. This self-confidence expands, and is not only connected to playing any more. We tend to get more confident in other aspects of life, thus making a long term change in our way of thinking and perceiving things.
- Practicing an instrument differs from only listening the music in many aspects, but here is an interesting one: While we get focus and relaxation from listening, here things are quite changed. The focus and even the relaxation here are not that obvious, but however deeper. It may not come directly from music per say, but rather from those activities that we take to get to music. And when there, the feeling of relaxation and pleasure is ten times higher.
- And for the end of this list I will add controlling physical reflexes. Yes; some positions of playing some instruments are not that natural; in fact not natural at all. But forcing your body to resist physical reflexes and stay in that position while fully concentrated is something even more powerful than meditation. This will improve your concentration a great deal. Giving your attention to the playing may be as narrow as controlling one finger at a time. Ever tried that somewhere else? I don’t think so.
I hope these reasons presented were enough to convince you to take some instrument that you love and start practicing your way toward many benefits, and many hours of enjoyment. Feel free to point out some other benefits that you think are also true, and some that prove that playing an instrument can immensely affect one’s well-being.
About the author: Slavko Desik is a writer and editor at LifestyleUpdated where he tries to build a community of like-minded people that share the same passion when it comes to living full time. Find Slavko on Google+or Facebook.