by Growing Needs | Dec 5, 2022 | Lifestyle & Wellness, Lifestyle habits
As one ages, the need to watch one’s diet becomes increasingly apparent. But just as important as the physical substance we put into our body, is the content with which we nourish the mind. Hailed as “food for the soul”, music is a great way to boost cognitive function and uplift the spirit – something not to be neglected during one’s golden years.
The benefits of picking up a musical instrument are plenty. A common refrain amongst the elderly is “my ___ is not what it used to be” (often with regards to their memory). In this vein, studies have found that music enhances the memory of Alzheimer’s patients, with exposure to classical music in particular correlating with improved scores on memory tests. Not only so, consistent practice with musical instruments has also been shown to improve processing speed for elderly aged 60-85 without a prior background in music. Beyond improvement in one’s mental faculties, interacting with music has also been shown to reduce stress, lower anxiety, and positively affect perceptions of quality of life. For instance, drum enthusiasts would be pleased to find out that the act of drumming itself releases endorphins, resulting in that “feel good” feeling one gets from exercising.
For those looking to begin their musical journey, the piano is a great place to start. A list of musical instruments is never really complete without the quintessential piano, not least due to its versatility and ability to span different genres. Given the dual handed nature of the instrument, it also helps improve coordination and dexterity. However, some may be deterred by the fact that the piano is comparatively more expensive than other instruments. Not to fret though! While classical pianos which may break the bank are well, “classics”, they aren’t a necessity, especially for those who are just starting out. Consider getting a digital piano, which likewise offers great utility but at a fraction of the price.
Another great edition to any budding musician’s repertoire is the ukulele. This is one of the easiest instruments available due to it only having 4 strings and lack of need for a pick (which some instruments like the guitar require). Most people will be able to pick up chords from the ukulele in as little as a few weeks. The small size of the ukulele also makes it easily portable and lightweight. But perhaps the greatest draw of the ukulele for novice musicians is its low price – meaning that if you later find the ukulele to not be your cup of tea, the sting of switching over to another instrument won’t be felt too much!
While it might be not be as conventional a voice, the harmonica is yet another instrument which is particularly novice friendly. The harmonica is generally used more in blues or country music, making it a perfect match for anyone who has a preference for such music. In terms of practicality, it is one of the most affordable instrument one can purchase – coming in at around the $10 price range, and can also be placed in one’s pocket, making it possible to practice anywhere, anytime!
While the wide availability of online tutorials on the internet makes it entirely possible to self-learn a new instrument, some might prefer to have more guidance when first beginning. If you prefer to have a teacher to guide you along, there are also many music schools offering short courses for one to sign up. One agency offering this service at a comparatively affordable price is Family Central at the National Silver Academy, which offers a wide array of courses for seniors 50 years and above to partake in, including music courses. Singaporean citizens and PRs also get to enjoy subsidized rates, making learning music even more accessible! Do note, however, that prices generally fluctuate between $30-130 per course, depending on which course you take. The PA community club is even offering a 2% discount lasting until end March 2022 for sign-ups. Other than music, there are also many other courses for one and all to check out, so please do take a look!
Music is often misunderstood as something that has to be learnt from young – which could not be further from the truth. Retirement can, and should be a bountiful period of our lives. It is often the best time to embark on new adventures and seek out fresh, new experiences. So don’t be afraid to do something new! The worst thing one can do is to subscribe to the notion that old “dogs” cannot learn new tricks. Similarly, it is never too late to learn a new instrument. Happy learning!
Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.