Welcome back! Or, if you’re new to our humble little blog, welcome for the first time! If you came today looking forward to an entry concerning some aspect of songwriting, well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this week we’ll be taking a trip away from the subject we’ve been covering over the course of the last two months.
We’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years discussing a bottomless barrel of benefits and advantages that come from an education in music. We’ve looked at how children can benefit from an early education in music from several different perspectives. We’ve also talked about how adults and the elderly can help keep both their mental and physical health up through learning and playing music. It is this topic that we will be returning to this week. Specifically, we will be looking at some of the non-musical benefits that adults can enjoy from learning and performing music as a group.
A lot of the non-muscial benefits of learning to perform music are fairly evident. Things like improved hand-eye coordination, and staving off the symptoms of Alzheimer’s have gotten so much coverage that most people are at least aware of them. However, some of the more social benefits haven’t gotten quite the attention they deserve. So this week we’ll be looking at some of the underrated social benefits adults can reap from making music with a group.
Less Pressure Learning
Our first non-musical benefit of adult musical groups is a little more connected to the actual music than the rest. As we have discussed at great length, there are benefits to take away from music no matter how old you are when you begin playing. But a lot of adults are hesitant to take advantage of these opportunities out of anxiety and fear about starting a new hobby, and being bad at it. A lot of potential music students think about sitting in a room, one on one with an instructor, and become horrified at the idea that they may not progress as fast as they want, and their perceived inadequacies will be blatant and obvious.
However, learning with a group can help alleviate that pressure, whether it is real or imagined. Small mistakes are lost in the sound of the group, improvements are made together as a group, and the act of learning is supported by the entire group. There is less perceived pressure, which allows many adults (and children for that matter) to relax and simply enjoy the music they are helping to make.
Another interesting side benefit that is a bit of an offshoot of the reduced pressure is how group music lessons can help lead to lower inhibitions in their musicians. Thanks to the lower levels of imagined pressure, and the simple fact that playing with a group means playing in front of others on a weekly basis, adult group music students become less inhibited to play in front of friends, family, and even strangers. This inhibition translates into other aspects of life as increased confidence and self-esteem.
Music Can Change How Your Feel About Your Life
One of the more obscure benefits of making music as a group that adults can enjoy is the fact that playing music together can have a positive effect on how adults see the quality of their lives. Certain studies have shown that playing (or even just listening) to music has been linked to a better functioning immune system, which may play a small roll in this effect, but cannot explain it entirely. Negative emotional states like depression and loneliness have a tendency to evaporate in the presence of a group of musicians, no matter the skill level.
We’re not entirely sure why this happens, but we can make some pretty educated guesses. The most likely explanation is the fellowship and comradery that comes with working with a group of like minded individuals towards a common goal. While it is true that this feeling can be found in other activities, such as adult recreational sports leagues, playing music is a much less physically demanding activity. For those who cannot play a sport due to health, injury, age, or just a simple lack of interest, music is the ideal alternative.
Regardless of what the actual reasons are, playing music with a group can help you feel much better about your life in general.
It’s a Great Way to Meet New Friends!
Probably the best non-musical benefit to group music lessons for adults is meeting new people. Research has shown that adults today have fewer friends than they did in the ’80s. But now a new study looking at adult singing groups suggests that performing in a group is an effective way to make new friends. This is almost certainly because of the built-in community that music offers, as well as the quick and lasting bonds musicians form with one another while the practice and perform together.
This study’s participants were broken into groups who took part in weekly singing courses, creative crafting courses, and creating writing courses. The results were somewhat surprising. Although all the participants felt closer to their classmates by the end of each course, those in the singing class developed that closeness much faster.
While the study didn’t look into why this might have been, the scientists had some of their own theories. In the creative crafting course and creative writing course, each individual was working on their own project. They would take cues from the class, turning the lessons learned into their own, unique technique. In the singing course however, everyone is doing essentially the same thing, even if each part is different, working toward the same goal. Another theory is that singing (as well as playing an instrument) is a more physical activity than crafting or writing might be. The muscular effort involved in making music triggers the brain to release certain hormones that make us happier and facilitate cooperation.
The real takeaway is that making music can be a fantastic icebreaker for large groups of adult strangers. It doesn’t take much for this incredible shared interest to blossom into individual friendships a little later.
The benefits of making music are uncountable, and to many they are much more important than the simple act of playing. Some are obvious, others more subtle, but all are achievable regardless of skill level or age. You just have to let yourself try.