Proving that piano lessons are not for children only, countless adults are discovering that it’s never too late to learn how to play the piano.
For older adults, research shows that piano lessons enhance the working memory. This is especially true after as little as six months of learning. In 1993, the Educational Psychology Journal linked playing the piano with improved reading comprehension. If you want to remember what you read (including this article!), then playing the piano is for you.
During childhood and adolescence, your nerves go through a process called myelination. This means your nerves add layers of insulation. These layers help signals travel faster through your nervous system (including your brain). One notable study links this process to piano playing. So, by playing the piano, you may be increasing your brain’s ability to think better.
…and that’s not all. Did you know that you are multitasking when you play the piano? You are focusing on rhythm and tempo, pitch and volume, melody and harmony all at once. At the same time, you are also focusing on finger positions, body posture, and more! Do you struggle to focus or lose concentration? Then learning to play the piano will help you overcome these problems. After all, playing an instrument is one of few activities that engages all areas of your brain at once.
In 2013, the National Library of Medicine published a fascinating article. It showed that playing piano eases stress and reduces depression in elderly adults. How does this work? It overcomes negative emotions through repetitive sounds that engage your neocortex. This effect calms you and reduces your urge to be impulsive. It also encourages you to listen to uplifting and constructive music. This pulls you out of your “loop” of dark and depressive feelings. Playing the piano does more than remove negative emotions. It replaces them with positive emotions. What’s better than listening to happy, uplifting music? Playing that music yourself!
Feeling timid and apprehensive? Playing the piano can help you build confidence and overcome shyness. It’s like public speaking – only you don’t have to look at your audience or use your own voice.
Here’s how it works:
- When you plunk out your first melody, your confidence grows.
- When you progress from playing with one hand to two hands, your confidence grows.
- When you move from one level of difficulty to another, your confidence continues to grow.
- Then, when you perform in front of an audience, your confidence grows even more.
Every skill level you achieve unlocks the door to the next level. Your confidence increases each step of the way.
Playing the piano offers physical benefits too. It’s like taking your fingers to the gym. As you practice, your fingers strengthen. Finger speed also increases. Your fingers will also become nimbler on the keys over time. Studies show this is one of the best ways to battle arthritis and other joint-related stiffness.
Taking piano lessons later in life can even slow down your aging process! It’s true. Your pituitary gland produces a human growth hormone (HgH) that helps regulate body fluids, muscle and bone growth, metabolism, and even heart function. A study by the University of Miami indicated that adults (even seniors) who take lessons experience increased levels of HgH. Therefore, this benefit is not limited to children. For adults, this hormone sustains higher energy levels, boosts muscle mass, and diminishes the aches and pains of old age, including osteoporosis.
Playing the piano is not the Fountain of Youth, but it’s close! Whether you’re six, sixteen, or sixty years old, there’s a whole lot of reasons to learn piano. So many intellectual, emotional, physical, social, and personal benefits will come your way!