3 Reasons Why Playing Guitar Is Good For You Right Now
In this episode of the FretDojo.com Podcast I want to talk about three reasons why playing guitar is good for you – especially at the moment given the impact current world events have had on our lives.
I’m recording this at the start of April, 2020 and there’s some pretty stressful stuff going on as well as facing living in never-seen-before circumstances.
It’s important at times like these that we set aside time for a calm, creative pursuit.
And there’s some pretty compelling reasons why playing an instrument right now is a strong contender…
Check out the podcast here:
Greg O’Rourke: Hi guys, Greg O’Rourke here from the FretDojo.com Podcast. In this episode I want to talk about three reasons why playing guitar is really, REALLY good for you.
Okay, so playing guitar is obviously a cool thing to do. It’s fun, it’s creative, it sounds great, you can play with other people, you can jam. There’s a lot of reasons why playing guitar is fantastic. But specifically in this episode I want to talk about specifically the reasons in how playing guitar can help you in all sorts of ways and can actually protect you from some of the issues that come along with ageing as we all get older. So let’s talk about some specific proven things that playing music (and especially, I guess, guitar goes along with that) can help you in your life’s journey and why it is a very important thing to maintain.
Obviously, I’m recording this at the start of April, 2020 and there’s some pretty interesting stuff going on in the world right now. I don’t really want to reference it too much because that’s all we’re hearing in the news and so forth. But obviously with the pandemic as it is, people are getting very stressed and I think it’s important at times like these that we set aside time for a calm, creative pursuit.
Reason 1: Playing Music Can Make You Smarter
So reason number one, music can make you smarter. I think music is the ultimate brain game basically. I think the reason it is so powerful is because it works out a lot of different sensory functions at once, like the auditory function, the visual, the kinetic function. And I think because all these processes are involved at once, it involves a very powerful brain stimulation. I was looking at an article on inc.com about this and neuro physicist, Catherine Loveday is quoted saying here:
“Music probably does something unique. It stimulates the brain in a very powerful way because of our emotional connection with it.”
So you know when you try to play these brain games, they’ve been quite popular in recent years, like puzzles and things like that online. But there’s nothing quite like playing an instrument because it’s a very rich and complex experience. And because of the intertwining of all the sensory application when you’re playing an instrument like sight and touch and the oral sense as well, this really can change the brain in long lasting ways and it’s been proven to do so.
So it says here, “Brain scans have helped to identify the difference in brain structure between musicians and non-musicians.” And the corpus callosum, which is a big bundle of nerve fibres connecting the two sides of the brain, is larger in musicians and also in the areas involving movement, hearing and the visual abilities, they appear to be larger in the brain in professional keyboard players for example.
So the brain is significantly altered and developed by playing music and it can help protect your brain as well. So brain scanning studies have found that anatomical change in musician’s brains is related to the age when training began. But even brief periods of musical training can have long lasting benefits. So you can increase resilience to any age related decline in hearing. Learning to play an instrument can protect the brain against dementia. So Loveday says:
“Music reaches parts of the brain that other things can’t. 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.”
Okay, so that’s the first point I want to make here is that music is incredibly good for your brain, okay? It can not only enhance your intellectual abilities and your sensory abilities, but it can also protect the decline of those abilities. So I thought that was a very important first point to make about why playing guitar is so good for you.
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Reason 2: Improves Your Discipline and Time Management Skills
Okay the second reason I want to talk about why playing guitar is so good for you is that it improves your discipline and time management skills. Now, I’m speaking from personal experience here. When you start playing an instrument, and especially if you have limited time at your disposal, you start to realise how inefficient you can be with your time.
Something that I do when I practise now is that I really stringently plan all the different activities that I’m going to do in my practise for that day and I allocate 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, five minutes, whatever, and then I’ll make sure that I have a timer. And no matter what my goal is to cover the work as best as I can in that time and to stop when I’m finished.
Now this is a simple thing, but when I first started doing this, I realised how difficult it was to stick to the time limits and it kind of revealed to me that, in general, my time management was in need of a lot of improvement.
And so I think having a discipline like an instrument and having the discipline to get to it daily despite what’s going on in the world or despite how busy you are with other things, if you can put that stake in the ground and dedicate yourself to something like an artistic pursuit like guitar playing, it can really help structure your life. You start to see how you can be more efficient in other areas as well.
Reason 3: Music Can Reduce Stress – And Boost The Immune System
And here’s an interesting, quite topical one for my third reason is that playing music can reduce stress. Okay? Now I think all of us need to really work on developing a strategy for managing stress at the moment, the whole world basically is in a somewhat stressful situation to say the least.
But it’s not about the world out there. What can we do in ourselves to maintain a sense of calm and to take out minds off things?
The endless news coverage of what’s going on at the moment can bring you a lot of stress. And by having something like a dedicated hobby, maybe some sort of program that you’re working through or a course or whatever, it can really help centre your mind away from the negativities and then you start to kind of value the time that you have at home and it’s not such a big deal. So playing music, especially playing guitar, is a very good way to reduce stress.
Now here’s a little bonus one. Why is reducing stress particularly important right now? I’ve found this interesting article on a website called The Sync Project, talking about how the immune system is directly influenced by the exposure to music.
And so if you listen or play music, it can have a significant effect in reducing your cortisol levels basically. And this is a stress hormone, when there’s too much cortisol and related chemicals chronically in your body, it can lead to a reduced immune system which can make you more susceptible to things like viruses, and that’s very relevant at the moment, of course, given the pandemic. And so it can actually be… There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that it can be a very protective thing right now to play music or to have relaxing hobbies because it can boost your immune system. So we should be prioritising healthy things like this right now, things that can help our brain health, things that can help our emotional wellbeing, things that can take our minds off all this stressful stuff and things that can then lead to boosting our immune system.
So there’s a few reasons today why playing guitar is really good for you. If you’re interested in some free lessons and resources, then check out my website fretdojo.com there’s a lot on there. And also make sure that you get on my email list because I often have special programmes running like short challenges that you can be involved in. It’s a lot of fun. We have students from all around the world. And especially given a lot of people are stuck inside right now with all the isolation rules and things like that, might be a good opportunity to fill your schedule is something that’s very positive and yeah, you could get a lot of benefit from that.
Well my name is Greg O’Rourke, I really hope you enjoyed this podcast today. I quite enjoyed recording this episode. Something a little different. And let me know what you think. If you got benefit from this and you enjoyed this podcast, please leave me a five star rating on iTunes and leave a short review. I would really, really appreciate that as it helps this podcast get out to a wider audience and so that other people can benefit as well.
Okay, well, without further ado, my name’s Greg O’Rourke and hope you have a good, calm, peaceful day today and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode. Bye for now.
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