It is generally acknowledged that musical activity can have beneficial results for seniors. These benefits come in different forms for different people depending on their circumstances.”Music Therapy” is one well established method of helping people with physical and cognitive disabilities caused by conditions such as dementia. “MT” as it is referred to, often involves relatively passive activities like listening to music under controlled conditions. But it can also involve singing, drumming or tapping, and playing other simple instruments like the harmonica.Research has shown that the soothing effect of music leads to better social interaction and often helps improve communication skills where they have been impaired by such things as stroke, or been the result of some other injury or sickness.For what we might call “ordinary” seniors, music is often used in retirement communities and senior centers in the form of special musical entertainment, sing songs and even dancing classes.Participants are encouraged to engage in singing, clapping, and dancing to old familiar standards. This type of musical experience provides pleasant and enjoyable social interaction, a valuable bit of physical activity, and a jolt of positive emotional stimulation.Can seniors benefit from playing musical instruments?Listening to music can be emotionally stimulating, but it is a relatively passive activity. Can seniors benefit from being more actively involved in making music – by, for instance, singing or playing a musical instrument?Of course it depends a lot on the senior, and on the instrument. Many seniors have physical limitations that make fingering a violin or a guitar almost impossible. But those same people might benefit from participation in a drum circle.Participants in activities like this quickly get involved in making music, having fun, even dancing, chanting, and singing.As Shannon Rattigan of drumcircles.net says,If a facilitated drum circle is presented properly, in a matter of 10 minutes everyone can be playing a drum rhythm together… The key to it is setting the right tone that this is going to be playful and fun. You can improvise, play around, and just have a good time. Like we did when we were kids.Can this be done with other instruments?Again, it depends a lot on the senior and on the instrument.Many older people have played a musical instrument when they were younger, and stopped playing when family and work intervened. I often read on music instruction forums comments from older guys (most of them seem to be men) who have picked up the guitar after it sat in the closet for 40 years.Yes, 40 years! That is not an exaggeration. I am an example. I played the guitar and trumpet in my teens and twenties, and didn’t actively pick them up again until I was in my 60s.The incentive for me was the opportunity to teach some of my grandchildren a bit of what I knew. And that led to many opportunities to perform with them at family gatherings. And of course that has resulted in the joy that comes with watching the kids become talented musicians in their own right.The point is, it is possible to dust off old talents if the circumstances are right. Reviving old talents and playing in a small, informal band with friends or family is one possibility.A retirement community seems like the perfect place where a group of people might get together to make music together in a more structured way – say as a singing ensemble or a little band.An enterprising social director in a seniors community might even form a larger band – using regular musical instruments or simple ones such as whistles, harmonicas, and a variety of percussion items (drums, tambourines, shakers, wooden blocks, etc.)Playing traditional musical instrumentsIs it realistic to think that a person who is 70 or 80 years old might continue to play a traditional musical instrument like a keyboard, guitar or trumpet? Or could he or she learn an entirely new instrument – a keyboard, for instance, or a banjo, harmonica or even a saxophone or guitar?Again, it depends on the circumstances a person finds herself in – in particular, her physical limitations. Many aging people have lost flexibility in their hands. They may have a sore back or hips that make it difficult to sit in positions required by some instruments. And often an older person has difficulty seeing or hearing.If none of these things are holding a person back then why not go for it!But there is always the question of motivationLearning to play an instrument like a piano – even in the most basic way – has real benefits. It provides enjoyment, mental stimulation, and a sense of accomplishment. And that may be enough incentive to get you to take on (and stick with) a project like teaching yourself a musical instrument.But playing for your own enjoyment is often not enough of an incentive to keep you going. Playing a musical instrument, or even singing in a small ensemble, almost inevitably involves the opportunity to perform for others – usually friends, family or fellow community residents.In other words it is often just the prospect of performing for others that keeps musicians going. Taking music lessons when you are a child almost always involves a “recital” every now and then to display what you have learned. Without the recital practicing starts to seem pointless.There is no reason to think it should be any different for a senior. My father played his violin in church for at least 50 years, and it was those “performances” that kept him interested in playing. When his faculties started to deteriorate and the invitations to play dried up, so did his interest in playing at all.It is performances like this that provide the incentive to become better and to learn new material, or for an older person, to hold on to the skills they developed earlier in life.So I would answer “Yes” to the question “Can a senior like me learn a new instrument?” It will give you enjoyment as well as mental and spiritual stimulation. And it will give you something meaningful to do with your time.But don’t keep it to yourself. Play for friends and family. Join a group or form a band. Have fun being a musician, and share the joy with others.
Music has changed millions of people all over the world. It has been a rock for many people going through difficult things and being strong in life. Teaching music is an art in itself, where the teacher imports the skills and knowledge they have on an eager young mind. Teaching music is not only technical instruction but also possible a way of life – helping kids who will grow up to be adults to cope with different life scenarios with grace.Music is also known for its healing qualities, its ability to quiet and calm the mind and enrich the spirit. That is why choosing a musical school is a very important thing to do and the choice parents make should not be taken lightly. First of all, when you choose a school, make sure they give you a free lesson because that is a sign that the school is open to new people and they are not going to charge you just for trying something new out and seeing if it will work for your child. A school that charges money for the first sessions is somewhat suspicious so make sure you do not fall into the trap of wanting it so bad that you go for the first thing that comes your way.Another aspect to check out is how well the teacher and the child vibe together. Music teaching is an intimate thing and the two people who interact with each other have to be able to be good communicators and understand each other well. Very often children sense if they like the teacher or not – from the very beginning. So listen to their opinion because it does matter. You child is an important element in the process and if they feel something is off, you should pay attention.Also remember that when you begin music instruction the child should be ready mentally and psychologically for the lessons. They may want the lessons badly because they wish to be like this or that favorite singer of theirs, but are they really ready? The teacher will be able to see that. If a child that is five and wants to take piano lessons fidgets at the instrument and cannot sit for five minutes or pay attention to what is said may be they can begin in a year, and everything will be different. It is important how you begin the journey so make sure you don’t rush into it too quickly.Another thing to examine is the customization of lessons? Is the teacher moving with the pace of the student or are they trying to jump to the next thing as soon as possible? Are the lessons individualized to fit the needs of your child? Check these factors, and we wish you to find a great school soon.