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06 Mar

There is strong evidence that making music and playing a musical instrument, even a little, is beneficial to mental, physical and emotional health.

It doesn’t matter what age you are or even your ability – as long as you play for a few minutes as often as you can – you will be taking positive steps to improve your mental health.

For children and young people who have a problem expressing themselves, playing an instrument is a fun way to limit stress and keep depression and anxiety at bay.

A survey carried out by the mental health charity Mind found that three in five young people aged between 11 and 19 have experienced a mental health problem or are close to someone who has.

Children and young people today also face the additional online pressures of cyberbullying and the competitiveness of social media.

Learning to play a musical instrument is life enhancing and can help overcome challenging situations at home, at school or at work.

Here are five easy steps that Yamaha Music London recommends:

Playing a musical instrument is like doing a workout for every part of the brain. It helps improve mental performance and memory. Over time, playing music will refine co-ordination and motor skills. Improving musical skills will use all parts of the brain involved in concentration. Reading music helps the brain to strengthen the ability to process information resulting in improved reading and maths skills.

Finding time for relaxation is vital to help the mind and body switch off from feeling overwhelmed. A new and fun hobby can be a great way to relax. Finding an enjoyable hobby will help switch the brain off from the pressures of work, school or college and you will cope better with work or studying after taking a break from it. If you have always wanted to play or are a lapsed musician – what are you waiting for? Just do it

Music can help cope with understanding difficult feelings. Music is a creative way of opening up and sharing feelings of sadness and emotions. Music helps you communicate and helps you grieve. You might like to write down your feelings in song form. Sharing and playing music makes you realize that you are not alone.

Low self-esteem can lead to depression and anxiety. By setting some realistic goals, for example to learn to play a few bars or notes or practice for 20 minutes every day, will give a wonderful sense of achievement. It will improve confidence and feelings of positivity in other areas of life too.

Being active reduces some of the emotional intensity around you. Playing an instrument naturally leads to increased physical activity. Whether you are playing the guitar, piano, strings or a wind instrument, you are using arm and back muscles to play or hold your instrument. Vigorously play the drums and get a cardio workout for free!

Having a good social network is important. Music can be a way to meet new, like-minded people – playing in a band, orchestra or a choir – can be a great way to make new friends.

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