After a long, busy life, in which you may have frequently wished for more time, it can be difficult to adjust to a lifestyle where you have more time than you are filling. One new hobby that can offer amazing side benefits is learning to play the ukulele.
Why the ukulele? Because they’re fun to play. Well, so are other musical instruments, but ukuleles are less expensive than most instruments, they’re easy to learn to play, and they’re small, which makes them easy to hold and carry along. You don’t really want to lug a tuba around, do you?
So let’s take a look at those benefits I was telling you about.
1. Learning Music Will Help Prevent ‘Senior Moments’
Learning anything will engage your mind, and doing so will sharpen your mind automatically. Like any muscle or skill, the more that you use it, the better it becomes, and your mind is not an exception.
There have been many studies on the mental advantages of musical skills, and the results are clear: learning music activates sections of the brain associated with memory. Musicians spot mistakes more quickly than non-musicians, and they are quicker to correct them. In age- or illness-related loss of mental function, learning an instrument can halt and even reverse the loss.
I can’t promise that you’ll never again walk into a room and not remember why, but it will happen less often. Memory in general is also improved by learning to make music.
2. Beat The Boredom Blues
Boredom has been defined by one researcher as “the unfulfilled desire for satisfying activity,” characterized by an “unengaged mind.” In large doses, it can cause serious problems. Boredom is merely a few hours of tedium for a child on a rainy afternoon, but it can cause serious mental health problems when it happens frequently to someone. Extended boredom can lead to mental disorders such as:
- Depression Boredom and depression are two very different mental states, but researchers noted a connection between the two a long time ago. Long-term boredom often leads to clinical depression.
- Compulsive Behavior If an activity such as gambling offers relief from boredom, it has potential to become compulsive. This has happened, and we don’t want it to happen to you.
- Eating Disorders Some people relieve their boredom by eating, because it’s a pleasant activity. Doing this frequently leads to doing it habitually or compulsively, and putting on weight can lead to physical problems.
- Substance Abuse There’s nothing wrong with the occasional drink or puff, but leaning on chemical mood enhancers on a regular basis to relieve boredom can lead to addiction, and the health and legal problems that it may cause.
People have varied reactions to learning an instrument, but boredom is rarely one of them.
3. Music Makes Your Mood
Simply listening to music is a well-known mood enhancer. Is there anyone whose spirits aren’t lifted when they hear Queen sing “Is this the real life, is this just fantasy”?
Music grips everyone’s heart, and that’s why we love it. For a much stronger effect, don’t merely listen to the music – make the music. It’s powerful to listen to good music, and much more powerful to play it.
4. Improve Your Eyesight, Hearing, And Coordination
These are all bodily functions that improve with use. Reading lessons and music exercises our eyes, listening to yourself play exercises your ears, and practicing shifting chords and strumming develops our hand strength and coordination.
Age tries to steal these attributes from us, so it’s worth our while to build them up to resist this.
5. Widen Your Social Circle
Learning to play music widens your opportunities to meet new people and make new friends. It’s remarkably rewarding to play music, but playing ukulele along with others is a whole new ballgame. It’s like a great conversation, but without words.
Most of the great musicians really enjoy playing with other musicians, and you’ll never experience the joy of playing with someone else if you don’t learn how to play.
The bottom line is that learning to play a ukulele can do a number of wonderful things for your emotional health, give you a new skill that you can be proud of, and provide you with an interesting activity to fill what may otherwise be a boring, unremarkable day.
Somewhere out there, there’s a ukulele that’s just waiting for you to find it, name it George, and take it home. Why don’t you go out and look for it?