Want to Live Longer? Rock On!


Bruce Springsteen is 71. Mick Jagger is 77. Madonna is 62. 

What about you? Although becoming a rock or pop star at an older age may be challenging, to be kind, it doesn’t mean that you can’t chase your musical muse. 

Numerous studies over the years support the benefits of learning to play an instrument at an older age. 

First off, to borrow a riff from Jagger, time is on your side. As lifespans increase, so do the opportunities for someone to pick up a guitar or start playing the piano and find enjoyment for decades to come. 

Here are some other “plus” factors to consider: 

  • Music is good for the soul. It can help lower blood pressure and decrease stress levels.  
  • Music is a great way to meet new people. It’s social. New people will pop into your life, along with the new experiences. Your music teacher. Fellow students. As the world starts opening up with COVID-19 vaccinations, now might be the perfect time to start looking to options that offer social interactions in limited circles. 
  • Music is good for your health. It protects cognitive function, and helps you improve listening skills and memory — all of which grow increasingly important as you age. 

Those studies include one by Baycrest Health Sciences in 2017, which supports the concept that playing a musical instrument can help older adults retain their listening skills and ward off age-related cognitive declines.  

“Music has been known to have beneficial effects on the brain, but there has been limited understanding into what about music makes a difference,” says Dr. Bernhard Ross, senior scientist at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute (RRI) and senior author on the study. “This is the first study demonstrating that learning the fine movement needed to reproduce a sound on an instrument changes the brain’s perception of sound in a way that is not seen when listening to music.” 

Need more motivation? We’ll leave you with this inspirational message from John Cougar Mellencamp, and his 1983 hit “Play Guitar.” 

“You may drive around in your town 

In a brand-new shiny car 

Your face in the wind, your haircut’s in 

And your friends think you’re bizarre 

You may find a cushy job and I hope that you go far 

But if you really want to taste some cool success 

You better learn to play guitar.”

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