Music is absolutely incredible for you and your health. When you look at all the benefits of playing an instrument or even just listening to music, it becomes clear that learning to play even one instrument is exponentially beneficial to you and those benefits can extend to those around you. So why haven't you started playing?
The benefits from learning to play an instrument can fall into a number of categories and they all intertwine with one another. It is hard to give any singular benefit its own place on the spectrum before it's tied to another at the opposite end. If there is a way to look at it, it is that the benefits of music circle around one another, leading to more and more benefits that each one touches. From developing a sense of accomplishment with your goals, to relieving stress and depression, a world without music is a world without a soul.
Developing perseverance through learning:
In order to learn how to play any instrument effectively, efficiently, as well as enjoying the process and playing itself, you must start to develop or enhance certain characteristics about yourself. In order to make it past the first few months of mistakes and frustration, you must develop your patience, persistence, commitment, and time management skills. You will develop a better sense of time management as you schedule your practice day around your daily life. Developing time management skills can help you stay on top of future endeavours such as work, school, and friends as your life progresses. Being as anxious as I was to learn and develop when I started playing guitar, I managed to get past the first few months and through the year really thinking I could learn to play the guitar. Sure some licks sounded terrible, my fingers were buzzing and I couldn't always hit the strings I wanted to, but my playing had progressed throughout the year, and that really fueled my desire to learn more. I started keeping short videos of myself every 2-3 months to reference my progress whilst also keeping a guitar practice book filled with daily schedules and progress reports. These reports included things like pieces learned, techniques mastered, and speeds I could play certain techniques at. These not only enhanced my desire to push further but also kept me accountable for missing days and making them up.
Noticing the change in your quality of life:
The longer you stay focused on your own musical development, the more you will start to notice the effects of your commitment. Maybe you managed time to get one more bucket of balls in at the range, maybe you've fallen and been able to catch yourself whereas you would have hopelessly fallen on your face before, or maybe you've felt calmer in everyday situations and even feel less stressed from everyday challenges. The little changes in life vary from person to person, but the overall influence music has on the soul impacts us all greatly. I know I've felt a major difference in my life since I started playing music. The more I learned, the more confident I became. The more confident I became, the more that started showing in my everyday behaviour. People would ask if I had been doing anything different at home or working out. One employer of mine pointed out that I had been "coming out of my shell" as I developed real confidence in my abilities. We learn to anticipate changes and adapt more freely, our dreams become more vivid and lucid, music makes us smile bigger, laugh louder, cry harder than we ever have before. We develop a greater sense of awareness towards others and ourselves, we learn to communicate more effectively and freely and we can hear frequencies and sounds we've never heard before. In fact, one student of mine noticed the change in his own ear's openness one month after he started playing guitar, saying he could hear higher frequencies while feeling more open to the world and its sounds around him.
If you develop an ear for music, that is, achieving Perfect and Relative pitch, many people find it exponentially easier to learn another language, another art, or any other communication skill. Studies have shown that kids being able to play a musical instrument have a higher GPA than kids that don't. If you learn an instrument before you are the age of 20, you can increase your IQ by up to 7 points! Practically everything that has to do with communication from one's soul to another by any medium becomes much easier to wrap our heads around. Music is very unique in its ability to bring together people from different towns, countries, cultures, and even across time through nothing more than pitches with certain patterns playing at certain rhythms creating certain feelings. Have you ever heard an old Johnny Cash or Hank Williams Senior recording and felt an almost simpler time reaching out to you through that recording? It doesn't matter how you interpret the feeling, as long as you can feel that it is there.
Music has been used in the treatment of kids, teens, and even adults with autism, depression, and other such disorders. When an instrument is learned, autistic children develop their sense of connection and learn to focus their intent on one thing at a time, greatly reducing the headache and constant throb of all of the input their brains receive at any given time. Children, teens, and adults with depression can and have used learning an instrument as a way to express themselves, freeing any negative emotions from their mind without causing harm to them or others.
I know I started playing an instrument because I wanted to be noticed by my peers in high school. It felt liberating to pick a song from my favourite artists and learn it, just to express that exact set of emotions to others. Further down the road on musical advancement comes the ability to express yourself right then and there, or even in another's written musical context. Can you see how amazing it must feel to be able to not just say, but express with pinpoint accuracy how you are feeling or want your listener to feel? Even listening to music on a day where not much has gone right can make it seem that much more bearable. Don't car rides go by easier? Doesn't housework seem to fly by that much quicker? Isn't it awesome to watch and join in with your best friends as you all thrash heads to the hottest new metal track?
Music connects us all on some deeper level of understanding that humans are just beginning to scratch the surface of. Science can only prove so much, it is the physical understanding and bond you feel when you hear a certain song that makes music so powerful. So again, why haven't you started playing?