Musical Instruments and Mental Health
How playing instruments can benefit your mental health
October 29, 2021
Mental Health is a big issue these days, so it is important to find something to help with that. One technique used to help is learning to play an instrument. Listening to different instruments can help your mental state, as well. Different types of instruments have different effects though. While some may cheer you up, others my make you sad. So, if you’re picking an instrument, take that into consideration.
A Prescription for Music Lessons by National Center for Biotechnology information (NCBI) said that, “Learning to play a musical instrument provides a peaceful retreat from the pressures of daily life… better communication skills, improved emotional release, and decreased anxiety…”
When asking the school counselor, Ms. Bailey, a few questions, these were her responses. Question: “Do you think playing an instrument can help you mentally?” Response: “Playing an instrument is a great coping strategy for handling negative emotions for many reasons. For one, playing an instrument gives your mind something productive to focus on. For another, music is a way to express emotions creatively. Playing an instrument can also help teach focus skills that can help in other classes.” Question: “What kind of instrument do you think helps mental health the best, to learn or listen?” Response: I think this is very individual. Different instruments and different styles of music appeal to different people for various reasons. So, I guess I would say whatever instrument most appeals to you is the one that will probably be the most helpful to your mental health.” Question: “Can learning to play an instrument help with anxiety/depression?” Response: “Yes, definitely. Any positive outlet such as music or art or writing can help majorly with mental health. Learning an instrument will build self confidence, provide an emotional/creative outlet and give a person’s mind something to focus on productively.” Meaning even if you don’t like music or instruments, you can do art or try writing a book instead. Though there are many kinds of instruments, so if you don’t like one, there are plenty more that might help.
The other school counselor, Mrs. Schaefer, was also asked some questions relating to this. Question 1: “Do you think playing an instrument can help you mentally?” Response: “Yes, it is very therapeutic and helps focus your thoughts on something positive.” Question 2: “Do you think listening to instruments can help you mentally?” Response: “Yes, listening to classical music especially has been proven to be calming.” Question 3: “What kind of instrument do you think helps mental health the best, to learn or listen?” Response: “Both- learning occupies your mind and playing keeps your body moving. Listening engages your mind and is soothing. I think listening to piano is especially calming.” Listening to music, whether classical or jazz, can help. While classical may be proven to help more people, it does not mean it’s the only kind of music that does. But it might help you more than other forms of music, and it is something you could consider getting into.
One student named Kayden also had some interesting things to say when asked if playing instruments helps with anxiety and depression. “Yep, because of the way the rhythm affects your brain! It alters the workings of your mind and gives you serotonin”. Then when asked if listening to instruments helped with mental health she said, “Yep. My mental health has totally improved while I’ve been in Band! I can tell it’s been that with most of my friends too”. Mental health is something to take seriously, but that doesn’t mean it also must be boring taking care of it. Playing an instrument is a fun and sometime relaxing way to help your mental health.
Many ages can benefit from playing an instrument, not just kids. While it is easier to learn when younger, it will benefit older ages. The NCBI “… found that a single episode of playing the piano was beneficial for a 91-year-old female patient… who was currently experiencing psychotic and depressive symptoms…” She was 91 and just playing the piano once was helpful to her. Even if she never played again, for months it still helped. If she did play again, every day at least once, imagine the affect it would have. And it doesn’t have to be a piano, it could be any instruments.
The most important thing to remember is that the instrument is right for you and will help you instead of making things worse.