The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Making music is healthy for you, researchers say. It can lower blood pressure and increase a sense of well-being. You can even start music lessons as an older adult.

March 23, 2013
7 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Talk about art therapy!

A close friend has often told me how the German army in World War I gave double rations to the piano players because they used so much energy doing their job of entertaining the troops.

I have never been able to prove the story. But it makes a lot of sense to this amateur pianist. I know the physicality of playing, and it takes stamina as well as finesse. And it involves both body and mind. (Below in a photo of University of Wisconsin pianist Christopher Taylor, whose playing is particularly physical and energetic, as you know well if you saw his recent astonishing recital of Franz Liszt‘s extremely virtuoso transcriptions of Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony and Fifth Symphony.)

Taylor_Chris_piano01

Contemporary researchers have taken an interest in studying how music affects one’s physical and mental health as well as social well-being, especially now that researchers can track changes through MRI and CAT scans.

Here is more good news: The suggestion, or even proof, by Dutch researchers that playing music lowers stress and lowers blood pressure. (Other studies show that listening to music also has benefits. But the one I am discussing dealt specific with actual music-making.)

Here is a link to the study:

http://www.psmag.com/blogs/news-blog/playing-music-may-lower-blood-pressure-51779/

Singing opera

And that story has a link to another study, done in Britain, that talks about the heightened sense of well-being one gets from making music – playing the piano or some other instrument or singing. And we know that conducting is particularly aerobic and healthy. Little wonder that conductors generally live along and healthy life.

http://rsh.sagepub.com/content/133/1/36.short

The Bottom Line? Music is good and good for you.

So I say to my fellow Baby Boomers and retirees who wanted to better their health: Music lessons, anyone?

Trust me, it’s never too late.

Just look at the YouTube video below that has had more than 9 MILLION hits:


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