Musical Training: Why You Should Take up an Instrument

Iggy Lueck, Assistant Editor

At ten years old I began my musical education with the violin, which I still play as a 20-year-old. At fifteen I began to branch out into other instruments, such as guitar, bass guitar, and piano. I’ve carried the skills I have gleaned from that musical education into my college career, and I encourage everyone who is able to learn an instrument themselves. 

Playing an instrument is fun, of course, but it is also much, much more. According to a study done at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, students who were trained musically consistently had a better verbal memory. What does that mean? It means the musically trained students were able to repeat back words that they were given much better and much more consistently than those who weren’t. 

Now, you likely won’t be in a situation where someone asks you to repeat a series of random words back to them, but you will need to remember exactly how your professor stated something, the exact directions to a certain classroom, what your mom said she needed at the store. 

What’s more, playing a musical instrument is one of the most stress-relieving things an individual can do. Psychologist Kumiko Toyoshima and others conducted a study that measured cortisol levels (the stress hormone) before and after a variety of “stress-relieving” activities and playing the piano was by far the most stressrelieving activity tested. 

According to psychologist Simon Landry, people who are musically trained also have a quicker physical reaction time, meaning they are able to hear or feel something and react to it more quickly. This can be applied to a variety of situations, from slamming on your brakes more quickly to avoid hitting an animal to an older person being able to catch themselves before they fall. 

Science aside, imagine how good it would feel to sit down at a piano or with a guitar and crank out whatever song suits your mood. Angry? Bang out a harsh tune on the piano. Sad? Strum some melancholy chords on your guitar and feel whatever you need to feel. 

It’s never too late to pick up an instrument. So next time you’re bored and wondering what to do, I encourage you to pick up that guitar that’s been in the corner for the last decade, pull up YouTube, and get started on that musical education. The other areas of your life will thank you!