Learning Piano as a Senior

Adam Miconi, January 9, 2018

Northwestern University conducted a study on piano and seniors and found that individuals playing the piano helps to build neural connections, improving memory and clarity. Even a small amount of musical training will have long-lasting effects on the brain. Playing an instrument is a great way to stay mentally fit.

Many people avoid learning instruments in their senior years because they think they are unable to learn them if they didn’t learn them in childhood. However, studies have broken this thinking as they have proven we can still learn new skills as we age.

Dr. Jennifer MacRitchie conducted a study of seniors and placed them in a six-week course of music lessons and how it would impact their daily life. What she found was instruments helped to increase connections between brain and hand muscles.

Music has often been used in nursing homes as it has shown an improvement in the mood of patients. Patients with dementia have been known to sing all the lyrics to a song, even if they cannot remember other things in their past.

Here are some of the health benefits of learning to play the piano as a senior:

  • Cognitive improvement – When participating in piano lessons, it increases neural connections. Neurons are responsible for transmitting and processing information. Playing piano adds to the neural connections, increasing overall brain function.
  • Stress reduction – Piano helps to reduce stress by teaching the mind to relax. Playing piano helps seniors to focus on one thing instead of other things that can cause stress including health problems.
  • Relationship building – The piano helps seniors to build relationships with other people. As many seniors have difficulties with loneliness, piano lessons can be a great way to get out of the house and meet other people.
  • Improve hand/eye coordination – When you play the piano, you must read. As you read, you train your hands to continue working at the same time. Improving hand and eye coordination will strengthen several parts of the brain.
  • Increases HGH – Human growth hormone (HGH) helps to reduce muscle pain and inflammation. Seniors tend to have additional aches and pains, which makes HGH an important hormone in the body to reduce such problems. Studies have shown individuals playing piano have a higher level of HGH from others. HGH has been show to decrease osteoporosis and increase energy levels.
  • Inspires creativity – Piano helps to improve creativity as you need to use divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is when your brain is using both sides. Piano helps you to use both sides of the brain, which directly correlates to creative thinking.