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Issue 6056

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Practising is good for your mental health

Thursday 30 July, 2020

It’s the news many musicians will be familiar with already – practising an instrument is good for mental health.

A poll of 2,000 UK adults who play an instrument found that 89 per cent think playing keeps them mentally balanced. More than a quarter reported a sense of clarity when practising their instrument of choice, while 56 per cent feel a deep sense of relaxation. Meanwhile, 36 per cent said playing music gives them a sense of purpose in life while they’re playing.

The research was commissioned by Spotify to mark the music-themed episode of its wellness-focused Where is My Mind? podcast, whose host Niall Breslin said: “The great thing about music is that it has a way of connecting us so simply and yet in a very powerful way.

“We wanted to explore why music is so powerful. What is it about music that makes it such an incredible therapist for us when we need it the most?”

The research also found those who play an instrument will typically spend an average of two hours and 50 minutes practising each week. Three quarters use playing music as a way to de-stress while 74 per cent said that just picking up their instrument – with no intention to even play it – can make them feel better. More than half (54 per cent) will have a playing session to decompress after a hard day at work, while a fifth have used music to help after a breakup.

Other times music lovers turn to their instrument when they’re feeling stressed include worrying about money (34 per cent) or dreading an upcoming event (30 per cent). On average, instrument playing adults can go just under a week without playing something before they think their mental health starts to deteriorate.

Musician, writer and mental health advocate Tabby Kerwin, of Mode For, welcomed the findings but urged caution about taking them at face value.  She told British Bandsman: “We know that playing a musical instrument has hugely positive effects on wellbeing and rehearsing and performing in brass bands is a positive on the mental health of many brass band musicians. However, I think the reality right now during COVID-19 is that it has been very hard for many to consistently practise on their own at home as the real benefit on mental health and wellbeing of practising a brass musical instrument comes in the reward of the sense of community in being in the membership of a band.”

The Mode For Brass on the Mind Blog is available here.