Benefits of Playing an Instrument in Retirement

Benefits of Playing an Instrument in Retirement

4 Reasons to Include Music in Your Retirement Plans

If you’re one of the record 3.5 million new U.S. retirees of the past two years, congratulations! After decades in the workforce, you have graduated to one of life’s greatest stages. If you’re like most retirees, you are probably looking forward to having more time on your hands to pursue those interests that were once relegated to “someday.”

Well, that day has arrived and the world is now your oyster! While your attention may first turn to bucket list items like that trip to the Grand Canyon or summer vacation at the beach with your grandchildren, now is also the time to lean into something new, and find a hobby that stimulates both your mind and social calendar.

Whether you are dusting off the old high school trumpet or are looking to learn something entirely new, here are four reasons why a musical instrument is the perfect retiree companion:

1. Time knows no bounds

Resuming an instrument or learning one for the first time will take patience and lots of practice. Now that you are no longer bound by a rigid work schedule, you can dedicate the proper time and consistency to learning an instrument. Better yet — you can do it on your own terms! Early birds, afternoon adventurers, and night owls rejoice: whatever time works best for you is the perfect time to practice music.

2. A workout for your brain

As we age, stimulating our minds and bodies becomes increasingly critical. Yes, your daily Wordle and solitaire can help, but research has shown that playing a musical instrument is the equivalent to a full-body workout for your brain. As you play, your brain simultaneously processes intricately connected details in multiple parts of the brain — combining auditory and visual information with fine motor skills. In turn, this strengthens brain connections and enhances your ability to problem-solve and process information.

3. Restore the ‘fun’ in fundamentals

For the majority of retirees, picking up an old instrument or learning a new one will not lead to stardom (sorry!). But that’s ok! This new phase of life is a chance for you to get comfortable with discomfort, as you make mistakes but also experience the thrill of learning a new skill. The best part: you’ll be surprised at how quickly you will improve, even after just a short period of time! This feeling of true progress is electric and — fair warning — addicting!

4. Leave loneliness behind

Leaving the workforce often means leaving behind many social connections and relationships. A University of California San Francisco study found that 43% of surveyed adults over age 60 felt lonely, yet only 18% of them lived alone. Feelings of loneliness can impact both your mental and physical health, making it even more critical to find connection in retirement. Music is a great way to meet others in your community and bond over a shared interest. Visit your local library or YMCA to discover musical events happening in your neighborhood.

Which instrument is right for you?

Now that you’ve decided to take up a musical instrument in retirement, you might be wondering: which one is right for me? Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Piano is a great option for adults, as it requires consistent practice and hand-eye coordination. It’s also a versatile instrument, allowing you to gravitate toward your desired music style — whether it be R&B, classic, or jazz.
  • Older adults may benefit from breathier instruments like the harmonica or flute, which exercise your lung capacity. In fact, many patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have found relief in such instruments thanks to their pursed-lip breathing techniques, which can help regulate air in and out of the lungs during a COPD flare-up.
  • If space and noise aren’t a concern, then the drums may just be the right choice for you! Combine patience with a bit of flair and you’ll be rocking out like the young soul you are in no time.
  • The ukulele is one of the most popular options for beginners because of its compact size and simplicity of only four strings. Its neck is thinner than a standard guitar, making it an appealing option for those with small hands. Bonus: this string instrument comes in many fun colors to suit all personalities! Whether you are looking for ukulele or guitar lessons in Tampa, Natomas or Tacoma, we can help.
  • For more of a challenge, adult musicians may elect to learn the saxophone. Don’t be intimidated by its size and shape, this is a popular option that is relatively easy to learn and will help you see big gains in no time.

Remember, now is the time to lean into discomfort, so if you’ve long held a dream of rocking out on the clarinet or guitar, now’s your chance! Find an Ensemble Music School near you to get started and connect with one of our experienced instructors, who can take your retirement music journey to new heights.

Author: Megan Walcek

Megan brings nearly a decade of nonprofit and for-profit marketing and communications experience to her role of Staff Writer at Ensemble Music Schools. She has dedicated her professional career — first at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and presently at — to advancing children’s health and education. Megan graduated with honors from Harvard University with a degree in Human Evolutionary Biology and Global Health & Health Policy and currently resides in New York.

Last concert attended: P!nk at Madison Square Garden

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