Calling All Adult Learners!

December 1, 2020 | Adult Learners

It's Never Too Late to Learn an Instrument

Covid Safe and Good for Your Health

By Joan Mankoff

Are you struggling to figure out what to do safely during the upcoming winter days amidst a global pandemic? Do you feel the need to enrich your life, health, and emotional well-being during these challenging times? Learning music may be the answer. Studies show that music is overwhelmingly beneficial for adults. And, with today's technology, you can learn an instrument from the safety of your home or in a safe, socially distanced studio environment.

You're not too old!

You can do it. You may think you are too old to learn a musical instrument, or it's too late to pick up that instrument from your younger years. It's just not so.

"I had always wanted to play the drums as a child and learned the piano, guitar, and dulcimer. I had been told by my elementary school percussion teacher, "girls don't play drums." After that, I didn't play anything for about 35 years. A few years ago, I saw that CCM was offering a group hand-drumming class, and it was when I could squeeze into my work schedule and was offered just down the street from my house. So, I signed up and had a blast. The teacher, Mike Connors, knew how to make the class fun, and we were all playing rhythms at the very first lesson. Taking the class, I realized how much I had missed playing music and decided to commit to learning to play on a full drum set with private lessons. Playing music has now become so much a part of my life that I can't imagine not taking lessons and maybe, eventually, I might be able to play in an ensemble and even do some composing and recording just for fun!"

--Carolyn B., adult percussion student at Concord Conservatory of Music.

A wealth of research shows that learning and playing an instrument has numerous health benefits, especially for folks over 50. With a musical instrument in hand, the brain is engaged at many levels, Our musical brains.from reading notes to physical coordination and simultaneously listening to the music created.

Musicians also tend to have better eyesight, verbal fluency, and more precise hearing than non-musicians. According to a study by Johns Hopkins University, learning musical instruments contributes to preventing neurocognitive decline and disorders, including Alzheimer's and dementia. Another study by Harvard researched seniors learning a new musical instrument and found that their memory can improve by 50 to 70%. Source: Never stop learning why learning music may be the best thing to do during the COVID-19 pandemic

Fight Covid-19 Induced Stress with Music

We propose an often overlooked cure for stress, learning an instrument. Get ready to be creative, boost your outlook on life, and even become social during this unprecedented time.

Making music contributes significantly to stress reduction, lessening anxiety and depression, and a boost in the body's immunological responses – no doubt beneficial during Covid. The website Medical News Today highlights an article by Sarah Glynn, "Music Benefits Both Mental and Physical Health", that elaborates on the importance music plays in our immune system, "…music increases an antibody that plays an important role in the immunity of the mucous system, known as immunoglobulin A, as well as natural killer cell counts, the cells that attack germs and bacteria invading the body." 

All of us are feeling a loss of community during the pandemic. Studies have shown that older adults who have an active social life tend to live longer than isolated peers. That poses a real challenge during Covid. Look no further than on-line group music classes where you can interact safely with the instructor and other students and increase your social circle. Take it one step further and treat your family and friends to on-line concerts to show off your new musical skills! Music can create a sense of belonging and community – regardless if it's by Zoom or face-to-face.

Adult student with CCM instructor Rasa Vitkauskaite

Are you wondering about which instrument you should tackle? A recent study commissioned by Spotify and conducted as part of Where is My Mind?, a podcast hosted by Niall Breslin focusing on music and mental health, delved into ukulele playing in a recent episode called "The Lockdown Ukulele Rockdown."

Breslin provided adults struggling with their mental health during the pandemic ukuleles to learn to play. The results were remarkably positive. Over a third of the learners said it gave them "a sense of purpose of life," boosting their mental health through increased feelings of happiness and relaxation. Let's take the ukulele one step further. The instrument, which has seen a recent resurgence, has proven to be an excellent entry instrument to learn as an adult. It has fewer strings than a guitar and is smaller and more manageable to hold.

25 Reasons to Play the Ukulele 

Adult ukulele players

For many of us, especially those retired, Covid has resulted in more time on our hands. Perhaps you are watching too much tv or surfing the Internet. Skip the doom scrolling and use that time to learn and practice an instrument. As quoted in a recent AARP article, Wave of Americans Learn to Play Musical Instruments by Robin L. Flanigan (July 30, 2020), "Older Americans are picking up instruments they always yearned to play or are returning to those they may have tooted or screeched through as young children. Staying close to home and limit on socializing have provided time and space for this pursuit." 

You have options. Besides boosting your brainpower and tuning your fine motor skills, it's helpful to figure out your goals for learning an instrument. It may be that you love music, or maybe you've dreamed of being a member of a jazz or rock band. Megan Romer lays out some questions to ask yourself in, "How to Choose a Musical Instrument to Play" (2018, Liveaboutdotcom) 

Why not start now?

It's never too late to embark on your musical journey. Check out Concord Conservatory of Music adult learning offerings as featured on our website.

The conservatory's proven holistic approach is perfect for new and returning musicians. You'll find quite a variety – from the ukulele to the banjo in both group and private lesson settings and on-line or socially distanced in-person—guaranteed fun for all with the enormous benefit of sharpening your mind and body. We hope to hear you play soon!