Perhaps you have read or heard recently of the benefits of learning music at an early age. That is true. Learning to play an instrument at an early age creates many benefits that will last a lifetime. Students who learn music develop more connections across brain hemispheres than those who do not. These connections help improve language and math skills, as music students are better able to use executive functions (memory, reasoning, problem solving and planning) in the brain. Researchers are finding that these connections have lasting benefits and help combat cognitive deterioration later in life.
However, it is never too late to learn! These connections can still be made and are useful to aging adults! Researchers are finding that these connections may be made stronger through music learning and practice later in life. At the University of South Florida, Tampa, a group of students age 60 to 85 were given six months of individual piano lessons and showed gains in memory, verbal fluency and planning ability. All of these executive functions are attributed to a better quality of life.
Playing and learning music is akin to playing your Sudoku puzzles, an aerobic workout, and listening and processing language all at once! It’s a perfect formula for your reasoning, memory, and coordination skills to work in tandem; it’s the only activity humans do that executes these skills all at once rather than one at a time. Plus, you will be learning and creating beautiful music all at the same time!
In for the long haul
Learning and playing music is a commitment. Gainful progress in the executive functions is best kept up with many years of learning and practice. As a new music student, you will be able to play and read music within a few weeks, but that is just the beginning of the journey that music lessons provide. With the right instructor, you are led to new types of music, music history and music theory – all key components for a well-rounded music education.
Finding what’s right for you
There are many avenues to take when finding a music instructor. You can do a basic Google search, call up your local music store, or simply ask your friends. Many music teachers love teaching adults, since adults want to be in lessons and want to do well. Find a teacher who will be understanding of your busy schedule and will help you progress in your own way. Lessons in the Denver metro area range from $25-$30 per 30-minute lesson. However, group classes may be another avenue to explore. They are usually less expensive, and you make a few friends along the way!
Give yourself a gift that will last a lifetime. The gift of music!
Laura Lizut, is a Wheat Ridge-based piano teacher who holds a Masters in Music. She has more than 10 years’ experience teaching children and adults, and teaches adult group classes at Rockley Music Center in Lakewood.