The Benefits of Music Education for Adults
"Studying music encourages self-discipline and diligence, traits that carry over into intellectual pursuits and that leads to effective study and work habits. An association of music and math has, in fact, long been noted. Creating and performing music promotes self-expression and provides self-gratification while giving pleasure to others. In medicine, increasing published reports demonstrate that music has a healing effect on patients. For all these reasons, it deserves strong support in our educational system, along with the other arts, the sciences, and athletics." - Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Leading Heart Surgeon, Baylor College of Music.
According to the Fender Foundation:
"When adults make the decision to learn a new skill, it is solely because they want to. There is no driving force telling them they have to. They rely on self-motivation as well as the desire to be a part of a community. This is where learning to play an instrument comes in. In addition to being part of a team of other musicians, the benefits of music education for adults includes improved quality of life by relieving stress and improving the brain's cognitive function.
Dr. Roy Ernst is the founder of the New Horizons International Music Association (NHIMA), which supports a number of organizations nationwide. These organizations provide music education for retired adults in group settings. "People make strong connections to life through music. Most importantly group music makes connections to other people. They are part of a team working towards goals," says Ernst. He points out that the people who participate make new friends who share a common interest, and that socialization is an important aspect of good physical and mental health.
Stress plays a big part on both physical and mental health. When it comes to making music, the intention is to engage in a recreational activity that makes you feel comfortable and relaxed, thus reducing the stress factor. In addition, learning notes and rhythm requires an individual's full attention, which improves concentration and cognitive skills. Dr. Ernst states "Think of reading notes at perhaps four notes per second, with each note having many qualities such as pitch, duration, articulation, dynamics and context. Then, that all needs to be processed into motor skills. After all that, it still needs to become an artistic expression." That being said, it is stated on numerous pages of NHIMA's website that absolutely everyone has the ability to learn music, and that everyone has musical talent in them."