Author Name HEre
Western Governor’s University
Life Is Better With Music
Learning to play a musical instrument is a lifelong journey with benefits that begin from the very first day you touch the instrument. The courage to try something new is the first psychological win in a string of confidence builders that continually help to shape your personality and foster growth. The subsequent and on-going health benefits derived while honing your craft provides further proof that playing a musical instrument is an instrumental decision in your life.
The art of music is in the mechanics of mastering an instrument, of discovering and creating new music, of challenging yourself and feeling the satisfaction of accomplishment in learning or writing a new piece. Mass media will portend that musical performance is the art. While entertaining for many, artists, famous and otherwise, will tell you that the performance is the payoff. The art is in learning, refining, and creating, which typically happens in unspectacular private places far away from notoriety. There is a personal space between you and your instrument where only you live and where you have full control over what you do, where there is no interference. That space is where art is born and where the benefits of playing affect your life and where we will focus this discussion.
My musical odyssey began at age eleven in the sixth grade school band with percussion. While challenging at first and awkward, I realized early on that being in the band separated me from others. Not being athletically gifted, particularly brilliant, or otherwise refined in any useful way, playing the drums immediately gave me a boost and was the first time I felt I had control of something. I was a scrawny and unremarkable kid in my own eyes, until music gave me confidence and got me to believe that I could be much more than I was.
That boost early on in life continued all through my school life and well into my adult years. I am now thirty-three years deep into my musical life and I still regard my relationship with music as a superpower. It is still a confidence booster and keeps me rooted when all else seems out of control. I often come up from a rough day of business at the hospital where I work and quickly calm down and put my life into perspective by sitting down with my favorite guitar and run through some homegrown or learned pieces of music. It is an immediate stress reliever. I still find myself in meetings writing lyrics or melodies in my head and completely not focusing on business matters. Whenever I feel inferior or intimated, anywhere, I always think of my musical abilities and feel elevated. Music gives me strength and gives me attitude everywhere in my life that shows in all the things I do.
Those psychological benefits aside, I think about all the years of brainpower I have invested into my musical life. Honing my craft has forced me to learn discipline, the ability to focus, and taught me the patience to work something through to completion. The ability to read and write music stimulates brain activity and serves a far better purpose than watching television or playing a video game. A new study was published online at PLOS One (2014) that states, “we conclude that children and adults with extensive musical training show enhanced performance on a number of EF constructs compared to non-musicians, especially for cognitive flexibility, working memory, and processing speed.” Bergland (2014) describes Executive functions (EF) as