Research has suggested that playing a musical instrument has positive effects on the brain and reduces stress levels significantly, and from my personal experience as a therapist and as an ex-musician I think the research is spot on.
According to the book Superlearning 2000 by Sheila Ostrander, you can "sharpen your mind with music and high-frequency sound" and as a musician I have often created my own simple tunes and played them when studying and found that I seemed to retain information a lot easier.
If there is one thing playing a musical instrument does it is to teach discipline and draw the mind into focused concentration. It is when we are totally absorbed in a subject that we tend to drift into a meditative state and it is this state that inhibits stress of all forms.
I started learning to play the piano when I was around 7 years old. I remember listening to my older sisters practising and really wanting to be able to do the same. Fortunately for me my parents recognised that I had a desire to play and found me a music teacher and I was classically trained.
However, you do not need to do it this way to gain the benefits of playing. Many of my friends became self-taught much later in life, some after they had married and had children. One or two became very skilled and played at social functions. So it is not necessary to become a concert pianist to entertain self and others with your musical skills.
When I was about 14 years old, as well as playing the conventional piano, I took up playing the electronic organ, which in those days was quite a new concept here in the UK. With it's bass pedals, rhythm section and different voices, it sounded more like a small band that a single instrument and I remember being so awe-inspired by the sounds I was producing. That was way back in the 1960s and nowadays the technology is truly awesome. Modern keyboards and piano clavinovas (see description below) can be made to produce practically any instrument in the orchestra as well functioning as a conventional piano.
I own two instruments, both Yamahas, I am somewhat biased towards Yamaha - a PSR-3000 for portable use and a piano clavinova CVP 405. I have loved Yamahas since playing a piano in a night club several years ago and falling totally in love with the touch of the keys and the exquisite sound it produced and I felt is came very near to the quality sound of the Steinway grand piano that my music teacher owned.
I love playing both instruments I currently own, the clavinova with its weighted keys feels just like playing a conventional acoustic piano, and whenever friends or family have a bit of a get-together at their homes, I take the PSR3000 keyboards in the car and we have great fun.
Playing Helps Reduce Stress.
We all have days when we feel stress; it is a part of life. But music can be very restful to the mind and can conjure up all sorts of peaceful images. Playing an instrument of your own will not only help you relax, but can help build confidence and give you that sense of achievement.
Learning to play does take a little discipline and it can challenging at times - but everything worth doing fits this description, so you have to be disciplined in order to master playing your instrument. It is a good idea to set time aside each day to practice, practice and practice some more.
But don't Forget the Fun!
Playing music is great fun, and if piano is the instrument that you fancy learning on a full-sized keyboard, consider the piano-clavinova or if you just want something to take around your family and friends that takes up very little space and is light to carry, the smaller digital keyboard is great fun.