If you're one of the 70% of adults who wish they had learned to play an instrument or your old high school flute is sitting in the closet covered with a thick layer of dust, it's not too late to make music.
Even if you have never read a note of music, playing an instrument can be part of your life now. The recorder is an excellent place to start. Student instruments are inexpensive, and for most beginners, progress is quick.
What about practicing? Yes, our lives are busy and complicated. But if you can manage two or three mindful sessions of 20 minutes each week, you can make real progress. Practicing isn't a burden; it's a time to focus on an activity for your own enjoyment.
You're making music for you!
Your Aging Brain Will Be in Better Shape If You've Taken Music Lessons
"It's not too late to gain benefits even if you didn't take up an instrument until later in life. Jennifer Bugos, an assistant professor of music education at the University of South Florida, Tampa, studied the impact of individual piano instruction on adults between the ages of 60 and 85. After six months, those who had received piano lessons showed more robust gains in memory, verbal fluency, the speed at which they processed information, planning ability, and other cognitive functions, compared with those who had not received lessons. . . ."
"People often shy away from learning to play a musical instrument at a later age, but it's definitely possible to learn and play well into late adulthood," Bugos says.
Moreover, as a cognitive intervention to help aging adults preserve, and even build, skills, musical training holds real promise. "Musical training seems to have a beneficial impact at whatever age you start. It contains all the components of a cognitive training program that sometimes are overlooked, and just as we work out our bodies, we should work out our minds."
for National Geographic
PUBLISHED JANUARY 3, 2014