We’ve all heard people claiming that learning an instrument is a good way to manage our mental well-being. But is there any truth to that? What is it about learning an instrument, that’s so good for our state of mind?
Well, as a multi-instrumentalist who’s always learning something new, I can tell you what makes instrumental learning so beneficial for your mental health.
Learning an instrument can be incredibly relaxing and good for your health. Especially if you learn to play a classical instrument, which involves reading notation. As you focus on the notation, your mind clears of other things and the experience is akin to meditation.
If classical isn’t your thing, you can relax just as much playing guitar or even bass or drums. Allow yourself to feel the rhythm and to become absorbed by it. We all have rhythm: just listen to your pulse if you don’t believe me.
2) Creativity and Catharsis
Even with just a basic grasp of an instrument, you can use it to be creative. With the notes, chords or beats that you know, you can create something expressive and even cathartic. If you have something to get off your chest, try letting it out through music. It’s the universal language. Music is a superior communicator.
Creativity doesn’t have to occur when you are already suffering. It can be a part of staying mentally healthy as you make tunes, chord patterns or even full songs. After creating something, you’ll notice that your mood lifts tremendously. It’s a wonderful feeling.
The longer you spend learning an instrument, the greater sense of achievement you will feel. Some people like to go through the grades, gaining certificates that recognise that progression. It doesn’t suit everybody, but it’s one way of gaining a sense of achievement.
Lots of self-teaching books are progressive, so you can measure how well you’re doing by how far through the book you are. Each time you complete a page, that is an achievement. Be proud of yourself.
Learning to play can also be great for your social life. There are all-abilities orchestras that are great for beginner classical musicians which have a huge range of benefits including improving self confidence and sense of community and teamwork. If it’s rock that you’re doing, you’ll be band-ready before you think you are. Learn a few songs and ask around. A lot of people are amateur musicians, who would love to be in a band for fun! If you don’t know anybody who’s interested, a quick Google search for ‘find me a band’ will help you out. Have confidence. You’ve put the time into learning these songs. It’s time to make it even more fun for yourself!
5) Lifelong Skills
Finally, learning to play an instrument will equip you with lifelong skills. Whilst it’s true that you will become rusty if you don’t play for a while, you will always be able to pick it back up.
Learning to play an instrument is like learning to drive, ride a bike or speak a language. You will always be able to say, to yourself and to others, “I can do that.” 🙂
Learning an instrument is a long-term goal. However, if you set yourself manageable goals and don’t push yourself too hard too soon, you will have a rewarding hobby that will become a skill for life.
If you’ve never played an instrument before, don’t be afraid to jump straight in. Guitars are more affordable than ever and you can get great electric guitars on a budget.
Playing music can be challenging, creative or relaxing. All three of these are good for your mental health. You might decide you’d like the guidance of a teacher, or you might prefer to progress at your own pace, by yourself. If you choose the autonomous route, there are a lot of great online resources that can help you.
Good luck in your musical journey. It can help you to stay healthy when you’re well and can work as a refuge when you’re less mentally healthy. Music is a gift that belongs to us all.