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Learning to Play an Instrument Provides Benefits

Learning to Play an InstrumentLast night, we attended a guitar concert performed by the students at my children’s school. Over the past few years, I have been to a number of these events and every time I hear the advanced students from the guitar program play, I am amazed by their talent. And what’s even more amazing is that most of the students didn’t start playing the guitar until they began the school program.

As impressive as this is, their success did not come easily. As with anything, to achieve that high a level of proficiency required investing many hours of work over many years.

The guitar program is intense. It runs for seven years during which the students play nearly every day. Those that graduate from the program have the background to become professional musicians if that interests them.

Although many of the students have the skill and the talent, most do not pursue careers in music. Instead, the students go on to achieve great things in other areas – business, medicine, law, science.

But my question is, does learning to play an instrument provide benefits beyond the music? And can those same benefits be achieved by learning to play an instrument later in life? Such as when we reach financial independence and retirement?

There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence on the benefits of learning to play an instrument. And while most of the discussion is geared toward the benefits for children, a 2011 study found,


that musicians’ brains are highly developed in a way that makes the musicians alert, interested in learning, disposed to see the whole picture, calm, and playful. The same traits have previously been found among world-class athletes, top-level managers, and individuals who practice transcendental meditation.”


While I’m not sure if learning to play an instrument provides all the cognitive benefits that the studies indicate, I do know that it can be a great way to enhance your free time once you achieve financial independence and retirement.

Might be time for me to pick up an instrument.


Financial Slackers, have you thought about learning to play an instrument? Do you already know how? What instrument do you play or do you want to learn to play?



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  1. Jack

    I studied music from about 6 through high school but never pursued it past that.

    Definite benefits besides the obvious (pitch & rhythm) – focus, thinking ahead, teamwork. I can’t comment on the claims of psychological benefits, not having a non-musical twin.

    It certainly was a lot of time invested, but I enjoyed it when I was playing. Just didn’t enjoy it enough to be willing to try to make a living at it. Computer science is much more lucrative.

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    1. Financial Slacker

      Agree. It’s tough to make a living as a musician.

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  2. Finance Solver

    I’ve played the piano for about 10 years (I don’t play much anymore because I don’t have one readily available to me and I hope that I haven’t forgotten). I can say that my brain functions a lot faster as a result of learning the dexterity that playing the piano requires. Reading this post has really made me want to go back to playing now!

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    1. Financial Slacker

      My kids have also been playing piano for nearly ten years. They still seem to enjoy it which pleases me.

      I keep thinking maybe I’ll start taking lessons. When the kids go off to college, someone needs to play that piano in our dining room.

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  3. Martin - Get FIRE'd asap

    Any kind of learning must have benefits of some kind, some of which you mention here, but I think one of the key benefits of being able to play a musical instrument with some proficiency is the pleasure that it brings to anyone you play for. I tried learning guitar some years ago without much success. I just didn’t seen to have the coordination and dexterity required. I have taught myself to play some harmonica mainly for my own pleasure but I do know that when I do play, it is enjoyed by my listeners. I do have a great respect for anyone who can play well and especially if they play more than one instrument.

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    1. Financial Slacker

      I was just sitting outside and heard my neighbor playing guitar. It did make me wish I could play.

      I bought the kids harmonicas a couple of years ago. I didn’t know if they would get used but thought I might learn to play.

      Your comment triggered my memory.

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