As you might know, I’ve been playing music professionally for a long time. Mariah Carey, Madonna, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Journey…these are just some of the talented people with whom I’ve had the pleasure of sharing my passion. I’ve been fortunate to do some incredible things throughout my career. But there’s nothing in this world that brings me as much happiness as playing my bass or strumming a guitar.
Long before I was getting paid to share my joy of music with others, I was experiencing the thrill of playing instruments for myself. And though I didn’t realize it at the time, while I was learning my craft I was also improving my mental and physical well-being.
No matter how stressed or busy I feel, picking up an instrument always helps to calm me down. Whether you’re blowing a saxophone solo in a jazz club, working out chords on a ballroom grand piano, or strumming your trusty acoustic guitar at home, playing a musical instrument can be a great way to release stress and settle your thoughts. Let’s check out some ways that you can calm your mind with musical instruments.
Playing Music Can Relax Your Mind
Most of us have spent time listening to music in order to calm our minds. Listening to rhythms can affect brain activity in a positive way that leads to calm.1 But participating in the music-making may help us to relax as well.
Rhythmic music has been used for centuries in religious ceremonies and other ritual practices. A study at Stanford University revealed that “music with a strong beat stimulates the brain.” It also found that “slow beats encourage the slow brain waves that are associated with hypnotic or meditative states.”2
Learning to play an instrument can also help with our brains’ attention abilities, which can help to calm our minds as well.3
Release Stress By Jamming
It’s been said that music can soothe the savage beast. If you’ve ever strummed a power chord during a moment of stress, then you likely know exactly what that means.
Music has the power to connect people, but it also has the power to connect you to the moment. One of the benefits of jamming with your favorite instrument is that it helps you practice mindfulness.
When you’re being mindful, you’re not connected to anything but the moment. Music can take you to that place.
Playing an instrument also has many social stress-relieving benefits. It can connect you to other like-minded people, and give you the shared joy of creating in a group.4
Picking Up An Instrument Is Good For Mental Health And Can Help Maintain Your Brain Power
It’s no secret: no one is getting any younger! A study has shown that playing music can improve your brain power and cognitive abilities as you age. If you’ve played an instrument for 10 years or more, you may have a better ability to improve your memory and brain processes than a non-musician.5
In addition to reducing stress and helping you relax, making music may also increase your heart health and help with depression. It may also help fight viruses and even help in the fight against dementia.6
What If I’m Just Not Cut Out To Play?
No worries! Playing music isn’t for everybody. Here are some ways music can soothe your mind without picking up an instrument.
Listen To Music
Listening to music can work wonders. Depending on the type of tune, listening can calm you down or pep you up. It can help you focus and relax or assist your exercise routine.7 It can also simply bring a smile to your face.
Dance It Up
Whether you’re alone or with a group, dancing is a great relaxing exercise. It can boost your mood and get your endorphins going. Dancing has many overall health benefits.8
Even if you’re only belting it out in the shower or car, singing has been shown to relieve stress, lower blood pressure, and help your memory stay sharp.9
Treat Yourself To A Sound Bath
This relaxing experience brings together the best of meditation, yoga, and music to soothe your soul.10
Keep Your Calm
Now that you know how helpful playing a musical instrument can be to improve your mind, body, and spirit, what are you waiting for? Pick up that guitar, pluck that harp, and ring those bells. I know you can find the joy in jamming just like I have. There’s beautiful music in your future, and I’m looking forward to hearing it.