Why playing a musical instrument is good for stress

May 14, 2021

Music Lessons in NYC


You would be hard pressed to find anyone who is not affected by the stresses of life today. While there are many ways to deal with your own personal stress, in this article we will discuss why playing a musical instrument is good for stress relief.

A common problem with feeling stressed is that this feeling just doesn’t go away on its own. Whether it is conscious or subconscious, the mind returns to thinking and worrying about all of our problems and challenges. Relaxation techniques – like meditation – are designed to slow down the constant spinning of multiple thoughts and worries. Playing a musical instrument heals our minds differently. We will focus on three main positive mental aspects here:

Playing a musical instrument reduces stress because it helps you achieve a “flow state”

One reason why playing a musical instrument helps with stress is that during the time of practicing or performing the piece the player simply cannot think or worry about anything else but making music!

When you sit at the piano, hold a violin, sing, or practice guitar, it is necessary to completely focus in order to succeed. As a result, you earn yourself half an hour, an hour, or even more time during which you don’t worry or think about anything else in life.

Many professional musicians describe being “in the zone” when practicing or performing. This interesting phenomenon can be explained in modern psychology as a “flow state.” A flow state is a positive mental state where a person performing an activity is fully immersed in that activity while simultaneously enjoying it and losing track of time.

To get in the “zone,” the following must happen:

  • The activity must have structure and direction – with a clear set of goals.
  • The task will have immediate and clear feedback.
  • The person must have confidence in their abilities to complete tasks.

Playing a musical instrument is perfect for achieving a flow state, because a musician has very clear tasks that can immediately be analyzed. You can hear progress immediately!

Some of the many tasks musicians must consider as they play:

  • playing the correct notes
  • interpreting the rhythm
  • intonation (playing in tune)
  • articulation
  • dynamics
  • phrasing
  • tempo

The list goes on and on.

Thus, the brain of a musician while they are playing is considering  a variety of simultaneous tasks which use up a lot of“computing power.” Playing a musical  instrument is good for stress because it is like a heavy gym workout for your brain! It is hard work, but after you are done, you feel calmer and more centered.

Playing music allows you to feel you are succeeding at something

As mentioned earlier,when you play a musical instrument, you are able to experience immediate results of your efforts through practicing and in between music lessons.

If you fully apply yourself, then you WILL learn to play most, if not anything that you want to. Work projects, relationships, life dreams in general can fail despite our best efforts. But if you love a music piece/song and if you patiently follow the guidance of your teacher and work hard on your own, then you will definitely succeed!

When you are consistently experiencing succeeding in a task of making music, you start to apply this psychology to other areas of life. Imagine looking at a piece of music that looks impossible to play and then, a few months later, being able to fully play it! It feels wonderful and encouraging.

You begin to want to recreate the sensation of prevailing over hardship and coming on top in other things that you do in life: your work, relationships, and other hobbies.

Discovering your talents through playing a musical instrument is uplifting and helps to fight the hopelessness of stress. 

Playing a musical instrument is thrilling!

Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your adrenal system. It can cause the hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) that are responsible for the “fight or flight” response in your body to skyrocket.  It can also cause neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine (which are responsible for happier feelings) to lower. This can make you feel tired, not be able to sleep, and have all sorts of other problems.

Looking for one more reason playing a musical instrument is good for stress? Listening to and playing music  releases serotonin and dopamine into the brain! This energizes you and helps reduce stress levels.

Nearly every student who tries a music lesson with a good teacher instantly falls in love with this new activity. Whether it’s classical or jazz or popular styles, we get to work and play the pieces written by the genius composers and artists of both the past and present. There is something about being a co-creator of the music masterpieces that is ultimately thrilling and satisfying.

The music repertoire is unlimited, so you can never run out pieces and songs to learn. And those pieces can be not just dull sounding pieces to you – you can find a music piece that you absolutely love every time you choose a new song. Listening to music can temporarily carry us away from reality, providing relief for worries and stress. Playing music has 10 times the effect of that.  

In conclusion, it’s clear that playing a musical instrument provides a powerful tool for improving your mental health in general! Specifically, playing a musical instrument is good for stress relief because it allows you to focus on a positive activity, feel as if you are making progress, and it releases “happy” hormones in your body!



To sign up for music lessons in NYC or to contact us with any questions please use this form:

(212) 247-4900
Riverside Music Studios
1727 Broadway, Suite 2
New York, New York 10019