Should You Pick Up an Instrument?

The first time I picked up an instrument I was eight years old taking piano lessons from a local Salvation Army officer, and I didn’t care much for it. It simply wasn’t the instrument for me, but it did teach me some appreciation for music and musical practice. It wasn’t until eleven years later in college when I took a music appreciation course that I decided to try my hand at an instrument again with the ukulele and I quickly picked up the guitar shortly afterwards.


Playing the guitar and ukulele has been a catalyst for me in terms of helping me manage the stresses in my life, and my general happiness. It wasn’t until recently that I learned about what other benefits come with learning an instrument from recent scientific studies besides enjoyment.


In his article “The Benefits of Playing Music Help Your Brain More Than Any Other Activity” by John Rampton, Rampton explores the results of recent scientific studies on the many ways music can benefit the brain, even in older people. Although he does recognize that these benefits are greater at a younger age, he does state that these benefits can be experienced by people of all ages at varying levels. 


"Music reaches parts of the brain that other things can't," says Loveday. "It's a strong cognitive stimulus that grows the brain in a way that nothing else does, and the evidence that musical training enhances things like working memory and language is very robust” (Par. 17 Rampton).


Some of these benefits include strengthening your bond with others, strengthening your mind and reading skills, increasing your ability to process multiple things at once, increasing blood flow to your brain, speeding up brain recovery, reducing stress and depression, and just overall increasing the brains executive function including processing and retaining information, controlling behavior, making decisions, and problem solving.


If you have been successfully convinced to pick up an instrument, you may be wondering which instrument would be right for you, and where you should start. The first step to finding the instrument would be to consider where your interests lie. Are you more intrigued by keys, strings, or air-based instruments? Do you want to play more as a hobby, or possibly begin playing for others? Would you prefer to play as a soloist, or take part in a band?


 Out of all the instruments I tried, these are the ones I would suggest the most for beginners based on your interests:


Ukulele: If you would like a simple instrument that you can play songs with right away, this is the instrument for you. It is compact, and versatile, and most songs that can be played on the guitar or piano can be played on this as well. This instrument is also the least expensive of all the options I provided.


Guitar: As the most versatile instrument of the stringed instruments, the guitar is excellent for those who aren’t sure about whether they’d like to be a soloist or band member, and it also makes an excellent hobby instrument. Although, it is significantly more challenging than the ukulele and will take a lot longer to learn and master the basics. 


Piano: Another excellent solo instrument that requires a significant amount of skill. Although the basics of the piano is fairly easy to learn, it can take years to become a skilled player, but it is well worth the time because of its versatility and beauty. Although, it is the most expensive of these four.


Saxophone: Not as versatile as the previous instruments, Saxophone players often take part in groups or bands when playing, but the saxophone is also suitable for hobbyist players because it is such an engaging and fun instrument to play.


Lastly, I would like to suggest that you take your time picking an instrument to play. Perhaps watch some YouTube videos on the styles and learning practices of each to determine what you’d be most likely to stick with considering instruments can be a major investment, and also check out the price ranges and options available to you.


What musical instruments are you interested in? Have you played one before? Tell us below!