If you’ve ever harboured fantasies about being a musician – but never made it beyond a basic knowledge of the descant recorder, a couple of simple guitar chords or Chopsticks on the piano – now could be a good time to revive your musical aspirations.
There’s no getting away from the fact that learning to play a musical instrument requires dedication and, above all, practice. But the latest technology can certainly help you along the way.
User-friendly music software, robust-but-portable hardware devices, and a vast wealth of online resources and interactive tuition, promise to simplify the process, improve your skills, fine-tune your technique – and make your journey considerably more fun.
And the benefits of playing music are manifold. According to neuroscientists, it’s the ultimate workout for the brain.
In her Ted-Ed lesson (above), How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain, music educator Anita Collins explains that playing a musical instrument engages practically every area of the brain at once, as multiple pieces of information are processed simultaneously and at high speed, in complex interrelated sequences.
The more we practice, the more those brain functions are strengthened, allowing us to apply that strength to other activities in our everyday lives.
And the effects are by no means restricted to young, developing minds. According to a 2013 study from St Andrew’s University, taking up a musical instrument, even late in life, is good for the brain, and “can slow, stop, or even reverse, age or illness-related decline in mental functions.”
Before you splash out on that double bass or top-of-the-range piano, take a look at our guide to learning to how to be a musician in the digital age.