With the daily stress afforded by work, home chores, taking care of kids and the like, most of us resort to vacations to take a break and unwind before returning to the daily routine with a renewed vigor. Although holidays are a great way to de-stress, not everyone can afford the time or manage to squeeze in a break on a regular basis. The best way to manage the daily stresses of life is to find an activity that can provide an opportunity for rest and relaxation on a more frequent basis.
For many years, scientists and experts have been studying the effects that music education and playing a musical instrument have on mind, soul, and body, and the findings have been positive. It seems that one of the most effective therapies for relaxation is taking up a musical instrument, although it is preferable to take up an instrument that you are drawn to and one that will provide the best results for mental and physical wellbeing.
In a scientific study that looked at which instruments encouraged brain development, the violin was placed number one, with the popular piano falling to number eight. Interesting, it was the drums – often associated with stressful noise – that came in a close second.
Drums got a further boosting when Men’s Health magazine published an article on a study that was conducted in a high burn-out industry. A number of employees were sent for a one-day drum lesson, and their stress levels were measured before and after the session. The results showed an average of fifty percent reduction in stress level after just one lesson, and the stress reduction lasted for the following two weeks.
Drum therapy has been introduced to and tested on students with learning disabilities such as ADHD, Downs Syndrome, Autism, and Dyslexia, and there have been significant positive results. Special needs students can often show great improvements in cognitive behavior and social communication after a few months of drum lessons, and further studies are now being conducted to find ways to introduce drums to a broad spectrum of patients with varying psychological challenges.
It is easy to say “I haven’t got time to play the drums,” but an instrument can be easily taken up as a hobby, an interest, and a leisure-time activity. Some may be concerned about the noise that a drum creates and the trouble it might cause with the neighbours, but it is easy to control the dynamics of the drumming using special sticks or by sound-isolating the room. Plus if you play well, the neighbours might enjoy it!
Learning an instrument doesn’t have to be another stressful commitment. An instrument can be mastered at your own pace, spending just a few minutes daily or picking up the sticks whenever you need to break away from your routine. The best starting point is to find a good drum instructor who can encourage you and advise you on what drum kit suits your budget.
Parents will enjoy the stress-reducing properties of playing an instrument, while for children it can be a great way to develop the brain. Drums are an obvious choice for children; not only are they scientifically proved to be beneficial, they are also a great way for them to let off steam without running around the house. Since children’s brains develop and change until they turn seven, it is best to start them on the drums after they reach this age. Students who learn a musical instrument often outperform their peers in school and work.
Children often find learning an instrument easy, while adults may find reading notes and coordination is a struggle initially. This will pass; it is just like learning to ride a bike, and once it is mastered, it is never forgotten. It is worth pursuing, as the benefits have been well-documented. Studies have shown that keeping your brain active can help deter Alzheimer’s disease, and you may find your memory becomes sharper.
Drumming is a simple way to make you appreciate life again, discover some new vigor, and release the tension that can make your weeks feel a struggle. Pick up the sticks and have a go!
Andrew William is a drum teacher and runs drum centres in Puchong and Hartamas. For more information contact rhythmsandgrooves@gmail. com or 012.319 2080.
Source: The Expat November 2012
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