9 incredible health benefits from playing a musical instrument

Swap your dumbbells for drum-sticks with these amazing health kicks!

Thinking about getting yourself a musical instrument, or looking to treat a special someone to a guitar or drum set? Now, it may be painful on your ears when first getting the hang of a new instrument, but persevere and it might just be better for you than you originally would have thought. There are multiple benefits that come as a nice side-effect to learning a new instrument that can improve both your physical and mental health. We've put together a list of advantages that might make investing in an instrument worthwhile.

1) Keeps your mind sharp

One of the biggest advantages to learning a new instrument, and one that you'll notice almost immediately, is the difference it will make to your levels of concentration. Whether you're tentatively tinkling the ivories or getting to grips with the guitar, you'll be constantly learning and exercising your mind as you improve. It doesn't matter whether it's Frère Jacques or Smoke on the Water, when you're adding new songs to your repertoire, you're improving your capacity to develop new skills and that can only be a good thing.

2) Increased concentration

Learning a new instrument takes time. Lots and lots of time. It's by no means an easy or straightforward process but the benefits are tenfold. By putting in the hours and dedicating yourself to the craft of mastering your instrument, you are improving your powers of concentration every day. Not only will cracking the technical aspect of playing and learning songs show the capacity your brain has for learning new information, but even learning how to decipher sheet music is an indicator that your levels of concentration are at an all-time-high.

Fortunately, if anything happens to your kit while you're performing, or if you're looking to protect your investment, musicGuard has got you covered. Take a look at what insurance we can offer you, regardless of your level of expertise, right here 

3) Improves your mood

The wonderful thing about making music is that it gets your creative juices flowing. Whether you're someone who picks up the guitar at the end of a long day to get rid of any undue stress, or if you've written your own song and want to get it just right. The main thing with this is that when you're done, you should be smiling. Playing music is a really enjoyable and productive way to spend your spare time, so have some fun with it. The best thing about it is that there's no pressure! In fact, the worse you are at it the better. If you're desperate to perfect your hobby to the point where it's aggravating you, just remember that it's just that; a hobby. Use it to unwind and relax away from the 9 to 5 grind.

4) Widens your social circle

Music brings the world together. There are no better tools for people around the world to bond over than music. A great way to get a child to integrate into a new school, or to make new friends is to join a club with their instrument. It's not just for kids either! As we get older, our social circles can get smaller and smaller, and it can be quite difficult to get out there and meet new people. This is where music comes in. Get yourself down to somewhere that hosts an open mic or something that encourages amateur performers. You're likely to find others who share the same tastes and interests as you and - while it may be daunting at first – don't panic! These are usually a friendly and welcoming environment, full of people who were new to performing themselves and on the lookout for new pals.

Bear in mind though, that if you are planning on taking your cherished equipment somewhere where it may get damaged, then you'll want to make sure it's protected.

5) Helps fight Alzheimer's and dementia

Probably the most amazing fact about the relationship between music and the human brain is the effect it has shown to have on Alzheimer's and early-onset dementia. Recent studies seem to suggest that there is a correlation between those who spent time learning an instrument when they were younger and their ability to retain information as they grew older. The findings, based on 157 sets of twins, showed that the musicians among us may reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer's later in life by a third. There appears to be a link between those who suffer from either Alzheimer's or early-onset dementia and the ability to recognise music from their youth. Many care homes use music in a therapeutic sense and have had remarkable feedback from their residents. This may stem from how the brain stores information, and the unique ability of music to access previously untouched memories.

6) Boosts your reflexes

It's a sad fact of life that we all slow down as we grow older. Fortunately, you can keep yourself as sprightly and as a sharp as possible by taking up a new instrument. Research by a Canadian university shows that out of those from a musical background and those who aren't, it's the musicians that react far quicker to sounds and vibrations, regardless of their level of expertise. The study concluded that the participants who were proficient in playing an instrument were "Faster at a statistically significant level". So, if you're the sporting type, or you're just looking to hone your general reaction time as you age, maybe picking up an instrument is the way to go.

7) Fitter than a footballer?

Looking for a new workout plan? Get yourself a pair of drumsticks. Studies show that drummers are technically fitter than top-level footballers, according to research jointly conducted by the University of Chichester and the University of Gloucestershire. In fact, an hour's worth of drumming can burn anywhere between 400 and 600 calories with the subject's heart rate peaking at around 190 beats per minute, which is comparable to elite athletes. Now, we can't guarantee that you'll be scoring the winner in an FA cup final anytime soon, but within time you might just be in good enough shape to!

8) Effective stress relief

Ever had one of those days where you just want to smash something? Well now you can! You don't have to be hitting the right notes or even be in-time, but crashing around on the drum-kit in your garage is actually very beneficial for your mental health. Studies show that just playing an instrument (it doesn't have to be something as aggressive as the drums), can lower your blood pressure, reduce stress and in turn, help with anxiety and depression. Remember, it's important to keep a healthy mind as well as a healthy body, so let your creativity shine.

9) Straightens your posture

If you're one of the estimated 8 out of every 10 Brits to suffer from some form of back pain, then you'll need to re-adjust your posture sooner rather than later. Common remedies to this include yoga, swimming and medication but playing an instrument may also be just as effective. By avoiding slouching, you maximise the capacity of your lungs and reduce the likelihood of fatigue, which is essential if you're playing a woodwind instrument such as the flute or the clarinet. Sitting to play the piano is also an excellent way of improving your posture. By having a stool, you force your body to sit upright, but try to keep your elbows above your hips and your body relaxed.