There’s a great deal of research today that suggests that music offers tremendous therapeutic benefit to people in the later stages of their lives. It has a calming, soothing effect that can lift a burdened spirit, whisk one away to a special time that is inextricably tied to a song, or give someone something pure to enjoy simply for the sake of enjoying it. As the saying goes, music soothes the savage beast. What beast? Those nagging pressures of life that stack up and can shadow even the sunniest of dispositions.
But if listening to music is good for seniors, actually playing it, research is showing, can prove even more effective. In fact, most seniors today, at some point in their lives, have played a musical instrument, either having learned it in school, were taught by a family member, or by lessons from a home tutor hired by one’s doting mother. The point is this: The instinct for learning to play a musical instrument, or for singing in a choir, is probably very much still “in there” and just needs to be coaxed out again. Too late in the game, you counter? Nonsense. It’s never too late to learn a new skill, especially one that’s so curative.
The most popular instrument seniors take up is the piano, which today, thanks to electronic keyboards, comes in all shapes and sizes, and can even be portable. The piano is great because…
• It offers a full range of sound, from treble to bass clef.
• It covers both melody and accompanying music.
• Lessons are taught one-on-one, teacher-to-student.
• Best of all, the piano seems to be the instrument that produces the quickest results for students — which is a crucial motivating factor, especially for seniors.
Choral singing is also great, especially when coached by choir directors who love what they do. Some benefits include:
• It can be a fabulous social experience for fending off sadness or feelings of loneliness.
• Memorizing lyrics of songs stimulate memory regions of the brain.
• Concentration skills increase with the need to follow a director’s instructions.
• Singing can even boost energy and lung capacity.
• Plus, concert performances can be extremely rewarding to share with family and friends.
Learning to play music or singing in a choir can be just the right hobby one needs to feel active, productive, and creative again in their golden years. And the sound of music, played or sung, can help soothe even the beastliest of days. So, Maestro, if you please…