Yearning to be the next Springsteen? Dreaming of standing on the Pyramid Stage with the audience singing the words back at you? Longing to join the ever burgeoning Bon Iver collaboration? Sure, we’re the same. We’d all love a bit of that. 

But learning to play an instrument isn’t all about satisfying your dreams of being the next big rock god or pop star. And even if you never have any intention of getting onto that stage to show off your musical abilities (or you’re simply lacking them) there are still so many benefits when it comes to learning to play a musical instrument. These are those; our 5 IDEAL health benefits of learning to play an instrument.


Here at IDEAL, one of the first things we do after a stressful day is to put on some soft, soothing music – it instantly makes us feel more relaxed and in control of de-briefing the day. Indeed, listening and playing music has a unique effect on our bodies; not only is it relaxing and therapeutic, but research also shows that playing a musical instrument can lower stress and anxiety levels, and as such can help to bring your blood pressure and heart rate down. There’s also evidence that creating music enhances the immunological response, which enables us to fight viruses. Great news all round, then.


As a rule, we tend to take rather shallow breaths when we’re not thinking about it. Specific here but nonetheless, playing a wind instrument means a lot of deep breathing, and that’s amazing for your lungs and your respiratory system. If you’re undecided on what type of instrument is best for you, have a look at options like the Dawkes clarinet selection, and give your diaphragm the workout it’s been crying out for. Actually, if your diaphragm is crying, seek immediate medical attention.


No matter what kind of instrument you decide to learn, you’re going to be engaging in physical activity, and that’s always good for you. Of course, play something heavy, and you also have the added physical exercise of carrying it to rehearsals. If you’re looking for an instrument to give yourself a proper workout, then look into learning to play the drums. Exhausting, perhaps, but an amazing form of cardio too. Yep, we’ve noticed how muscular drummers tend to be, too. A ringing (in your ears) endorsement, we think.


It’s a sad fact that we don’t listen as much as we talk. In fact, most of us are pretty terrible listeners. Full stop. But learning to play music means that you will naturally train your ears to listen. That’s true whether you’re playing on your own or with other people. From jazz improvisation with other players to tapping away at piano keys in the privacy of your own home, you’re going to be training your ears and your mind for listening more intently to timing, expressions, and even tuning. And when those skills are applied to everyday life, you’ll find yourself a better listener all round. 


Creativity is amazing for your mental growth, and whether you’re writing your own music or playing the latest chart hit, being able to express yourself through music can be emotionally therapeutic. Indeed, learning to play an instrument does all sorts of good things to the brain and can really give that grey matter a great workout. You’ve got to concentrate and learn those different notes, timings and how to understand sheet music, forcing you to use more of your brain which in turn improves your memory and abstract reasoning skills. It can also improve your ability to focus as well as your spatial, visual and verbal skills.

We like to think of learning to play and instrument as brain training, giving us a stronger cognitive function that could lower the risk of dementia. So, what are you waiting for?