Emotional, Health and Wellbeing benefits of Learning Piano Later in Life
Seniors choose to learn piano for a variety of reasons, but some of the most common emotions that drive them to start include:
- Nostalgia: Playing favourite songs from your youth can revive happy memories and a 'warm' comforting feeling
- Mental stimulation: Many studies show that playing piano is a fantastic way to keep your brain active as it stimulates all key areas of your brain. Furthermore, studies showed that musicians were 64% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment or dementia and that learning piano later in life can help to delay the onset of mild cognitive impairment and onset of Alzheimer's
- Physio: playing piano is a fun form of physiotherapy for your hands and can have positive benefits for people who suffer from arthritis or other dexterity issues
- Creativity: Playing piano can be a creative outlet and allow seniors to express themselves musically
- Contribution and Socialisation: Joining a piano community (eg the DecPlay online piano community, with thousands of students aged 65+, can provide great opportunities to engage with other like-minded people and make new friendships. Music can provide opportunities to contribute to the fun and wellbeing of others, including supporting other piano students or encouraging family and friends (especially grand-children) to engage in music. You may also become the 'life and soul' of the party if you play piano at social gatherings
- Emotional well-being: Learning piano later in life, especially as a retiree, can provide a sense of accomplishment, especially if you have doubted your musical ability all your life. Realising that you are able to play songs on piano can boost your self-esteem, lift your spirits and improve your emotional well-being
- Growth and purpose: Learning piano can provide a sense of purpose, giving you a goal to work towards. Additionally, ongoing improvements in your piano skills, provide a sense of growth and self development
- Connection: Using an easy piano method such as 'DecPlay' enables seniors to start playing songs quickly, make emotional and social connections through music and to introduce grandchildren to the joys of playing piano.
These are just a few of the many emotions that may lead seniors to start learning piano. Regardless of the specific motivation, learning to play can bring many benefits and be a fulfilling hobby for seniors.
Learning to play piano may not seem the obvious choice, if you are seeking to improve your physical or mental health, however having taught piano to thousands of senior citizens across the globe, I can safely say that - in addition to learning a new skill – our piano students are enjoying enhanced mental and physical wellbeing, and even making new friends!
Unique Piano Tuition Method for Seniors
In order to make learning piano as accessible as possible for seniors, I created a piano course specifically designed for seniors. This online course using a ground breaking system of numbers and patterns known as “DecPlay”. I developed, and honed this system over many years because I believe the joys of piano should be accessible to everyone. Many people give up on the piano after finding traditional lessons a bit of a grind, or after struggling to learn the abstract language of notation (the dots on lines which is the traditional way of writing out music). Frustrated that so many people were missing out, I made it my goal to come up with a system that would make it as easy as possible for anyone to learn.
The DecPlay method also allows flexibility in how the accompaniment is played, and which fingers are used. This makes it much easier for people with limited hand movement to play piano, lending itself particularly well to Senior Citizens. By using numbers instead of letters, the distance between piano keys is instantly clearer, making it much easier for players to follow the instructions on the song sheets.
Learning Piano aged 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s
Many of our students are in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s and some of their challenges include dyslexia, low sight, arthritis, low hearing and muscular atrophy. The simplicity of the DecPlay method suits people with these challenges very well, and leads to remarkable results. Many students are playing music for the first time in their lives, and are confident enough to play in public within weeks of starting to learn. For example, Jean (aged 91) had been unable to play piano after a stroke, and was struggling to re-learn using traditional methods. Within one week of joining the DecPlay course, she was able to play several songs, and has even given inspirational talks to the other students.
The level of support our students provide for each other is heart-warming. They interact with, and support, each other via the Student Facebook Group and fortnightly Zoom Q&A sessions. In fact, some tell me that the Facebook group feels like a second family and, indeed, for those who have lost partners or missed out on visits from friends and family during the pandemic, it has proved to be a lifeline. As one Senior student put it “Being part of this group has been inspirational for me. Everyone supports everyone else, which is wonderful.” The braver among them upload videos of themselves playing as a way of sharing their progress and encouraging the others. While this doesn’t come naturally to some, once they take the leap, there is generally no looking back!
This sense of belonging and achievement appears to have bolstered the mental wellbeing of many. One student told us “It has been great for mental health and getting a little more life back” – a statement which is backed up by research which shows that making music can lessen depression and anxiety: https://www.livescience.com/40597-playing-musical-instrument-good-health.html.
You Are Never Too Old to Learn Piano
In conclusion - I always believed that you are never too old to learn piano and knew playing music can enhance your life, but I am continually amazed at the extent to which our students report transformational result across a wide range of areas. Our thousands of students who have started playing piano aged 65 to 93, are an inspiration for aspiring players of all ages.
It seems it’s never too late to try something new and reap the rewards…….as one of our students said, “I've achieved my childhood dream in my 80s - I love it!”
Founder of www.decplay.com