Research into music learning has found that, while it is a great activity for physical, cognitive, emotional and social development during childhood, it can be just as impactful to learn a musical instrument when we are adults.
But what gets in our way? For anyone who has tried to do it – many, many things. This article looks at two of the big ones – time and discipline.
Time is an easy one. Ok, you might disagree. But we may think that learning an instrument takes hours of work. And yes, it may take hours of work to become a virtuoso, but if you are taking up the hobby of learning the piano in adulthood, is becoming a virtuoso your primary goal, or is it just learning how to play your favourite song? If it is the latter, then it may not require hours of work but hours of consistent practice throughout the week. When learning a musical instrument, 10 minutes every day, with one rest day, may yield better musical and cognitive development than 50 minutes just once a week.
Discipline is the harder one. Discipline with anything, whether it be regular exercise, healthy eating or maintaining a steady mood is hard because external factors and internal motivation are hard to manage. But with music learning, it can be more than just the discipline of sitting down at the piano for 10 minutes a day. The more difficult part may be getting it wrong more than getting it right or not being able to make it sound on the piano like it sounds in your head. That is a recipe for adult-sized frustration. The discipline to “just give it one more go” is often the hardest to muster.
Yet if you find the time that matches your realistic goal when it comes to learning piano and you find the discipline that gives you a break when you can’t get it right, learning a musical instrument in adulthood can give back so much more than what you put in. Learning an instrument in adulthood has been found to:
- Increase brain synchronicity, connectivity and consistency.
- Improve immune health and cardiac health.
- Improve social interactions, mental health and wellbeing.
- Decrease brain age.
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Now when you look at your lack of time and wavering discipline, it doesn’t seem so bad in comparison to all the benefits.