The power and importance of music: a brief history!

As an old wise man in China once said…“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” Confucius is perhaps the first intellectual to recognise and write about the importance and benefits of music in human society. For everyone, music has the power to instil a wide variety of emotions and it is for this reason that we choose to listen to particular albums/artists when we are feeling a particular way – perhaps you love to listen to Abba’s Dancing Queen when you are feeling ready to party or The Beatles’ Hey Jude accompanies you when you are in need of a musical hug?!

Music has been used as a healing tool since the beginning of humanity – through the ancient worlds of Egypt, Greece and Australia sounds produced by various handmade instruments and unique vowel sounds were produced to soothe anxiety and heal physical symptoms. However, music as a therapy, as we know it today, was not founded until the mid 1700s. The fact that music has been used for so long as a therapy, shows us that people obviously recognise the fact that it makes them feel better and supports them when they’re feeling down or excites them through times of happiness. Music travels within our memories - connecting us with things that happened in the past.

Bristol Metropolitan

So, why should you learn to play a musical instrument?

...did you know that playing an instrument could actually change the architecture of your brain...

It’s never too late to pick up the violin, guitar, drums or whatever instrument takes your fancy and learn how to play it! It is important to remember that you are never too young or old to start learning an instrument. You also don’t have to be a prodigy to reap the benefits of playing.

So, now you’ll want to know how playing a musical instrument can benefit you. It can...

1. Reduce your stress

Music naturally can soothe not only others but the musician as well. Playing any instrument can actually help release the endorphins in your body, which will also result in reduced levels of stress. Like most hobbies learning a musical instrument is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a task that will make you forget your worries and stresses of daily life.

2. Increase your Intelligence

Many scientific and medical studies have proved that learning to read and play music heightens your cognitive intelligence, meaning your information retention increases and your IQ improves by up to seven points!

In order to read music you have to count notes and rhythms, which has the effect of also improving your maths understanding and general numeracy skills. So if you are still in school the obvious question would be: does this mean that you can pick up a guitar instead of a calculator? Well, it’s not recommended… just as music helps maths skills, maths can help musicianship and music theory understanding!

3. Enhance Mental and Physical Co-ordination

As you learn how to play an instrument, the parts of your brain that control motor skills grow and become more active. Playing music requires a lot of hand-eye coordination as well as multi limb coordination, ongoing practise will continue to hone your motor skills and increase your mental-physical coordination and general dexterity.

4. Boost your Social Skills

Once you can play even the basics on a musical instrument, you are blessed with the opportunity to increase your social activities. By creating or joining a group or band you are able to join forces with your friends, your family and others with common interests and abilities with you. Check out next week’s newsletter for more about the benefits of playing with others and how to find and get involved with other musicians in your area.

5. Improve Personal Discipline and Time Management Skills

Playing a musical instrument requires self-motivation and personal control; to play an instrument well you need to set designated practice times and develop your patience and perseverance when working through the challenges of new pieces and techniques. The most productive, and consequentially successful musicians will use their time efficiently and plan different challenges to work on. Developing your personal discipline and time management skills will help you grow as a person, as well as a musician.

6. Express Yourself

There are very few opportunities in our twenty-first century world that you can completely express yourself openly and honestly. If you pick the instrument that best represents your own personality - the music that you produce will naturally work to express your thoughts, emotions and style. As you become more advanced on an instrument, you’ll begin to be able to play what you want and however you want. What is more spiritually valuable than developing your a sense of independence and individuality, which in turn contributes to one’s own self-discovery and a development of one’s sense of identity.

7. Improve your Self-Confidence

Whether you have a yearning desire to become a massive stage performer or simply for your pet cat, the confidence that comes with playing an instrument in a public space or the comfort of your own home, can both develop and enhance your self confidence.

8. Enjoy a Sense of Achievement

Learning a musical instrument will not only help you relax, but can help give you a great sense of personal achievement. Taking on new challenges is something everyone should do. There is no better feeling than when you conquer a challenge you set for yourself.

9. Positive Health Effects

Playing music not only relaxes the mind and aids your personal development but also carries positive physical health effects. Some studies write that music has the ability to reduce blood-pressure levels whilst other studies suggest that it can help children and teens with psychological problems, such as Attention Deficiency Disorder, insomnia, and depression.

As for physical exercise, you may be surprised to learn that investing in a musical instrument can be as beneficial as becoming a member of a gym. Those instruments that require more physical movement, such as those in the string family provide excellent upper-body workouts whilst simply transporting those larger instruments such as double basses and the larger brass instruments can build strength. Perhaps however, the drum kit tops the chart with 90 minutes of drumming burning as many as 500 calories!!
Bristol Metropolitan Orchestra

10. Have fun!!

There is no better way to gain all of these physical, mental and social benefits from a hobby than picking up and playing a musical instrument. Go on, challenge yourself, impress your friends and family and ultimately, HAVE FUN!!! :) :)

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