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Older people's brains benefit from music lessons.

Older People’s Brains Benefit From Music Lessons


It is an unfortunate reality that many people stop playing musical instruments as they grow older. Thankfully, we stumbled upon a wonderful story and some scientific research that shows it is never too late to stop playing.

Writer Carolyn Scott Kortge for The Register-Guard in Eugene, Oregon wrote about a tuba ensemble filled with retirees, like Bill Jensen. Jensen and others shared with Kortge personal stories on how they joined the group.

“Like many of us who dutifully took music lessons in our youth, Jensen, 68, shifted his focus to family and work as he moved into adulthood,” Kortge wrote. “The pastimes of earlier days were replaced by income-producing efforts. But he missed the sense of connection he’d once felt — one participant in a group of many, creating harmony together … In retirement, they are relearning techniques and rediscovering rewards in the sound of music.”

It is a beautifully written story about taking on new challenges and worth a read.

Members of the tuba ensemble are also receiving other benefits from playing. A study of 60- to 80-years-olds who received piano instruction for at least six months showed marked gains in memory, verbal fluency and processing information compared to those who did not take music lessons.

Jennifer Bugo, an assistant professor of music education who conducted the study said this development should be encouraging news.

“People often shy away from learning to play a musical instrument at a later age, but it’s definitely possible to learn and play well into late adulthood,” Bugos told National Geographic.

These stories should be the final encouragement to start music lessons for older people. It is never too late to learn and your brain will thank you for it!

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