A wonderful trend in today’s society is that of older adults becoming actively involved in making music. This is particularly true of Baby Boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 (between World War II and the height of the Vietnam War). During retirement they have the leisure to pursue music, a long-held dream for many. And the benefits are like frosting on the cake.
In a study at the University of Florida, researchers found that adult students who studied piano for 6 months were able to complete cognitive tests more quickly. Essentially, as the brain forms new neural pathways by learning a new skill, age-related decline is reduced. Much other research substantiates this conclusion. Piano playing — what a joyful way to reduce the possibility of dementia and grow older gracefully!
In his book aptly titled Never Too Late, Baby Boomer John Holt tells of learning to play cello in his 40’s. His dedication and discipline energized him with a new outlook on life. As he developed his musical skill, his capacity for creativity increased. His scope even broadened to other involvements such as performing groups and speaking engagements.
As accompanist for our local chorale, I make music with over a hundred adults, primarily Baby Boomers. Again, they have the resources and free time to engage actively in producing music. their sustained focus results in finely-tuned performances given with much joy. And their benefits include health and well-being, camaraderie, and broader horizons — performances have now expanded to singing tours both locally and in Europe.
So keep making music your whole life long … and you will find deep satisfaction as you develop this skill. Perhaps real progress in our society will be a return to the musical hearths of the early 1900’s, where virtually every home had a piano, played on by young and old together.