7 ways to play more

We all grew up loving music of some kind, whether our thing was Glenn Miller’s big band, a Beethoven symphony, Willie Nelson, the Modern Jazz Quartet, or the Rolling Stones. Many of us even learned how to play an instrument and played in our school bands.

But then life changed our priorities, and for many, those creative notions simply faded away. Even though most people still have their favorite kind of music, many think that learning how to play a musical instrument is for youngsters, not for someone of retirement age.

Not so, according to a growing number of boomers.

Today, more and more empty-nesters are finding a way to continue fostering their love of music well into their golden years. In fact, it’s a growing trend. Take the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis, MN, for example. The school offers courses in piano, violin, and other instruments, and choral or ensemble singing. Of the more than 15,000 students, roughly 2,000 are 55 or older. The social connections are a big factor.

Music: social media for seniors?

It’s tough getting old. For many, it can be especially lonely after kids have moved on and after retiring from a long working career. It’s natural to miss those social ties, especially for those who didn’t grow up with social media and the Internet.

But music has the power to bring people together. It’s a social art form, and many seniors find that learning or re-learning a musical instrument and playing with others is the ideal way to get out and meet new people.

And the benefits go far beyond social interaction.

The healing power of music

Many are discovering that musical training also helps them build self-esteem and even improve their health. And there’s plenty of science to back them up. Studies have long shown the benefits of musical training on cognitive ability. Music therapy is being used to treat everything from stress to mental, emotional, and behavioral issues to depression and anxiety. It’s also helping elderly patients deal with memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia. According to researchers at the Western Sydney University’s MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour, and Development, playing a musical instrument in retirement is one of the best ways to stay mentally and physically fit.

Getting started

Ready to rekindle that creative passion? Here are 7 ways to make music a part of your life.

  1. Take private lessons. Check local music stores and colleges, and find a teacher who is encouraging.
  2. Join a group class through a music school, music store, university, or private instructor, where you can learn along with fellow students.
  3. Play with a church group and share a musical experience with those you share your faith with.
  4. Form a group with friends. If you share a love of music with friends or neighbors, form a group and have fun together.
  5. Volunteer as a music teacher’s aide in a local school. They’re notoriously overworked and could use your help, and they’ll likely let you play along with the group.
  6. Teach lessons. If you have a good amount of musical training, you can help others by teaching them.
  7. Go hustle some gigs! If you have the ability and aren’t crippled by stage fright at the thought of performing in front of an audience, see if a local church, school, retirement home, or organization will hire you.

Today, more and more people are proving that creativity has no expiration date. How are you bringing music back into your life?