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Why you should learn to play an instrument

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Learning to play a musical instrument is something that usually done in a person’s early years. Those who stick at it are able to take advantage of numerous benefits it brings. Those who reach adulthood without knowing how to play an instrument, often rue their missed chances, but tell themselves that it is too late for them to learn now.

Learning your first instrument requires dedication and perseverance, but there is no upper age limit, and doing so will open up aspects of life that you may not previously have been aware of.

If nobody could play an instrument, today’s music would be much less interesting. However, a great deal of the music that does exist is only truly accessible to those who have studied music. Have you ever wondered why most fans of classical music, jazz and genres such as avant-garde metal, happen to be instrumentalists themselves? It is rare to meet someone who cannot play an instrument, yet who can appreciate John Cage’s disruptive composition “4’33”, or Ferneyhough’s String Quartet no. 6. Learning to play an instrument opens up a deeper understanding of music and enables you to experience a different type of beauty. In this way, music is no different from literature or mathematics – the more you understand, the more you can appreciate it.

There is also a growing body of evidence which shows that learning an instrument makes people smarter. While this idea is often scoffed at, at the same time we have no qualms in accepting that a polyglot or a mathematician may be a smarter person due to the study they have undertaken. It simply follows that the study of music gives you a greater understanding of the world. As becoming familiar with the manipulation of tones and timbres, and the relationships between them is, in effect, becoming familiar with waves of different and varying frequencies, it should come as no surprise that studies show musical children to have a greater aptitude for mathematics – the ‘queen of the sciences’.

Not only does learning to play an instrument make you intuitively smarter, it helps improve your memory, provides an outlet for your creativity and helps you improve your self-discipline and patience. Psychologists such as Angela Duckworth and Carol Dweck agree that for the overwhelming majority of people, success comes as a result of patience, determination and perseverance, rather than perceived natural ability, IQ or luck.