Whether you take your inspiration from Louis Armstrong, John Bonham, or Eric Clapton, many folks have dreams of becoming skilled at a particular musical instrument. As we age, we may feel like we’re too old to learn new tricks – after all, isn’t it hard to learn a new instrument once you’re an adult? Maybe, but hard doesn’t mean impossible. As it turns out, learning to play later in life has many benefits. So even for the most musically shy folks among us, there’s no time like the present.
These days, many people in their 50s and 60s are finding ways to tap into their musical talent. Taking up an instrument or honing those vocal chords through singing has improved these enthusiasts’ lives. Among the many benefits of playing music are the accompanying mental stimulation, creative expression, social engagement, and boost in the musician’s self-esteem.
What’s the message from these intrepid folks? It’s never too late to learn. Sure, there used to be a belief that if you didn’t pick up a musical instrument in your childhood or school years, you had missed your chance. And the field of music education reflected that belief – not many classes were designed (or even available) to teach adults to play. These days, the times, they are a-changin’.
Today, people of all ages are reaping the benefits making music has to offer. Programs across the country encourage adults to play musical instruments or sing and offer opportunities to join bands, orchestras or choral groups.
If you think about it, this new approach makes plenty of sense. Folks today are living longer than ever before. In our society, it’s reasonable for someone to believe that if they start playing an instrument in their 50s, they can keep on playing and improving for decades. And that’s exactly what some newbie audiophiles are doing.
So, time is on your side. And so is the research. A growing body of science on the subject suggests that playing an instrument or singing in a choir enhances brain health, cognition hearing function, and emotional well-being. These findings have led researchers to promote the idea of learning to create music later in life. According to scientists, this level of creative engagement should be something we do through our lifespan, for both pleasure and the potential health benefits.
Sounds great, right? But maybe you’re not sure how to get started. Not to worry – these days, getting involved in music is easier than ever before. Music schools and stores, community centers, and colleges and universities all are offering individual and group classes, some even designed specifically for older students. And in our technology-driven world, plugging in can help you to get playing. Play-along computer programs, instructional YouTube videos, and apps that provide accompaniments to whatever you’re playing are among the list of technological teaching tools.
So scrap that myth about aging (you know, the one that says as we get older we are less able we are to learn new things) and trade it for some sheet music. Whether you’re singing, strumming, or drumming along, your body, mind and social life will all benefit. And if the neighbors complain, just ask them to join in.