Why learning to play a musical instrument is THE best New Year's resolution

Have you always dreamt of learning to play a musical instrument or to sing, but have never managed to take the first step? Here are five reasons, with scientific proof, to convince you why learning to play a musical instrument is THE best New Year's Resolution!

Why learning to play a musical instrument is THE best New Year's resolution
Why learning to play a musical instrument is THE best New Year's Resolution, © Getty / Mel Stuart

1. It is the best kind of exercise for your brain

Are you always forgetting telephone numbers and birthdays? When travelling abroad do you struggle to remember the handful of polite phrases you painstakingly tried to commit to memory? The solution to give your brain a boost is to learn how to play musical instrument. However, one must respect all the various important stages, from sight-reading to performing from memory, without using the countless shortcuts that exist today thanks to modern technology. Do this, and your brain will thank you.

As the neuropsychologist and musician Daniele Schön explains: "Playing a musical instrument is a very complex cerebral activity. I am a cellist in a quartet: I must constantly listen to my own playing, so there is already a link between perception and action; I must also listen to my fellow musicians to whose playing I must constantly adapt. The auditory and motor systems must therefore be well connected, and different parts of the brain must work together to obtain this extremely precise and efficient result. The predictive processes necessary in music are subtle but essential, and our brains enjoy anticipating. The brain is like an orchestra: the greater the communication between the sections, the greater the connection and the synchronicity." Imagine therefore that you are an orchestra!

2. It is the best way to fight the blues

You get up in the morning, it's dark outside. You get home in the evening, it's still dark. It's cold and grey outside and your colleagues are quiet...not easy to stay positive and in shape. But if you finished your day by singing playing a tune for even thirty minutes, you would feel much better, guaranteed! However, contrary to what many may think, it is better to play a sad piece of music, such as Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata or Satie's Gymnopédie no.3 for example. It has even been scientifically proven that music has the most positive effect on our mood, by bringing up positive emotions such as nostalgia, appeasement, and tenderness. So put aside Paganini's Caprices or Bach's Badinerie orchestral suite and turn to works such as Saint Saëns's Cygne, Chopin's Nocturne in c or Rachmaninoff's Vocalise instead.

3. It is the perfect social lubricant to meet new people

Does your telephone barely ring? Are your Facebook notifications rare? Can you barely remember the last time you had more than four people round to your place? No matter! Playing a musical instrument will allow you to meet new people, and quite a few at that! If you start with an instrument, it may obviously take some time before you a ready to play with others, such as the piano, the harp or percussion. However, if you join a local choir, you'll be surrounded by new people and making friends in no time.

Yet again, this has been scientifically proven: singing in a choir proved to be the best way to "break the ice" and form social bonds between participants, faster than any other group activity. It requires synchronisation between various people, and thus interaction, and increases a pro-social behaviour and the feeling of belonging. In short, this is why, when singing "We are the Champions" in a stadium, we often find ourselves arm in arm with complete strangers!

4. It can help with your love life

It's an idea as old as time itself: for non-musicians, those boys and girls with musical abilities always carried some sort of inexplicable aura: they're artists. Many will remember those vague feelings of jealousy as one boy in the group would always get out his guitar and capture the attention of the whole group in but a few seconds. There is no reason why this couldn't be you, and your musical charms will soon work their magic on your possible partner. It has even been said that music can provoke orgasms, though we must note that, in order to perform Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto no.2, a fair amount of practice will first be required...

5. It is a healthy, and legal, way to boost your self-esteem

Do you find it hard to speak up during meetings? Do you blush easily and think you have nothing of interest to say? Studies have shown that learning to play an instrument or to sing will not add to your stress levels, on the contrary. Countless amateur  musicians have confessed to having suffered from panic attacks when performing as a child, only to then discover the pleasure of playing music in a casual and relaxed atmosphere. And if the butterflies don't go away,  there are countless methods to help with controlling the side effects, which will also help undoubtedly with your everyday life in general.