How can playing an instrument improve my life?

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1. Making music

Playing an instrument is such a fun and enjoyable hobby for many of us. But when I was much younger, the lessons I had left me feeling frustrated and I started to believe that playing an instrument was way too difficult.

Years later, I overcame those feelings after reading an article on the benefits of playing an instrument. Inspired by this knowledge, I decided to reacquaint myself with my old cello.

And to my surprise it has delivered on some of those benefits – from helping with my concentration to providing some much needed me time.

2. Me and my cello

This summer the BBC is launching a new campaign, Get Playing, to encourage us to play an instrument. See how I get on with my tutor Helen at my cello lesson. If I can do it, anyone can.

The BBC’s Get Playing campaign is encouraging everyone to experience the joy of playing music this summer.

3. Mind, body and music

No matter what your age, playing an instrument can have a positive impact on your brain and body. What makes learning music different from most other skills is that it can train several sensory, cognitive and motor systems all at once.

Adults who learn to play instruments or sing, and stick with it, can see improvements in their hand-eye co-ordination, memory for sounds, and fine hearing skills, such as the ability to track different voices in a noisy room. Playing an instrument can also change how the brain’s body map is organised, as people learn to use different parts of their body in a new way.

Those who play music regularly have quicker and sharper brain responses to sound and music. This is a transferable skill that goes beyond musical tone. In some cases it can allow musicians to respond quicker to subtle changes in emotions when they are expressed through any sound. This may mean that some musicians are sharper at detecting emotional upset in their friends or family, although this idea has yet to be proven beyond doubt.

Learning to read and play music can also lead to a greater appreciation of music in all its variety, and of creative works in general.

4. Health benefits

Other benefits of playing an instrument include improving your health.

One study has looked at group drumming lessons in older adults and found not only an improved mood but also an increase in white blood cells, which are vital for effective immune system response. One theory as to why this might happen is that engaging with music influences bodily functions like breathing and blood flow. Better regulation of these systems in turn might lower the chances of harmful activity within the body's sympathetic nervous system, sometimes known as our stress response or 'fight or flight'.

Our mood can also be boosted because playing an instrument or singing can improve our confidence, self-esteem and emotional wellbeing.

All this is on top of the sense of achievement you feel when you finally crack the notes that you have been struggling to perform, like I did with my cello

So join me and find out how you too can Get Playing.

5. Famous amateur musicians

Can you guess what instrument each of these famous faces play?

Julia Roberts

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Clarinet

She played the clarinet in her high school band.

Mark Twain

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Piano

Mark Twain played the piano and, according to his daughter, he could not read music.

Albert Einstein

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Violin and piano

Albert Einstein is widely quoted as saying: "I get most joy in life out of music.”