One of the embarrassing childhood stories my mum loves to tell about me is the time she brought me for my first piano lesson and instead of following along with the rest of the kids, I would run to the back of the class to bang on a drum set there. The teacher was so sick of the noise that she kicked me out of class.

Who would have thought that 15 years from that day, I would take piano lessons as an adult. When I was good and ready.  There are lots of benefits to learning to play a musical instrument. Here are 5 of them: 

1. It relieves stress

Did you ever noticed that you feel more relaxed when you listen to soft soothing music, as compared to loud heavy metal headbangers? It's been scientifically proven that listening to music is an effective way to reduce physiological stress.

In one particular study, college students performed an oral presentation with Pachelbel's Canon playing softly in the background, or with no music at all.

The students that had music playing in the background spoke more confidently and scored higher in the oral presentation. They also had lower heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety levels. Creating your own music with a musical instrument reduces stress levels at a faster pace than listening to music. 

2. It makes you smarter

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Even up to today, scientists are still uncovering the effects that music has on the human brain. Children who are exposed to music perform better in school than those who don't. Children who play a musical instrument at a young age also scored better.

Music actually boosts a child's reading skills, IQ and development of certain parts of the brain.

Adults can also benefit from playing a musical instrument. It helps to keep the mind alert and active. Especially as the mind degenerates in old age, it can aid in sharpening memory skills.

3. It provides a sense of achievement

The human mind requires challenges to stimulate the brain and boosts the spirit. When you are a beginner learning to play your first full song on an instrument, it can be incredibly frustrating. But once you have mastered it, the satisfaction you will feel is incredible.

The body releases endorphins to increase happiness levels, and this in turn diminish the perception of pain and lowers chances of depression.

4. It trains discipline

Similarly, if you are a complete beginner learning to play your first piece of music, one of the qualities required is discipline. You have to be disciplined in order to master playing your instrument. You have to commit time and effort into improving yourself. 

There's no way that professional musician you admire got that way solely by watching YouTube tutorials on how to play a musical instrument. He/she did it through sheer practice, practice, practice.

Discipline also trains the mind's resilience and stretches its capabilities. It's almost as similar as learning a new language - you will never master it if you do not practice. 

5. Most importantly, it's fun 

Yes, it will take some discipline, money, and a lot of hard work. But there's no denying that playing an instrument is fun. The best part is that it becomes more and more fun the better you get at playing too.

Once you get better, there's an entire world of music for you to explore and choose from to play.

Who knows? You may also write your own songs or play professionally in the future. Whether or not that becomes a reality for you, playing a musical instrument definitely enriches a life.