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Hitting the right note...

Posted by
10 Oct 2014
During an eventful and enjoyable annual company team building weekend, the opportunity arose for me to pick up a musical instrument for the first time in about ten years. After revisiting my musical childhood for an afternoon I decided to read around if playing a musical instrument had any positive subconscious affects. I found that there had been a lot of research completed supporting that specific skills, particularly in children, can be improved by playing a musical instrument.

For now back to the team building…On the second day we were thrown in at the deep end and hauled out of our comfort zones. It was announced that by the end of the day we will have formed a band, learnt how to play and sing a song, produce a music video and finally perform the song on stage in front of our colleagues. To some of us, the idea was terrifying however to others it was declared to be "the best day of my life”! By the end of the day we had (as we were told we would) produced a video, learnt the instrumental accompaniment, had lyrical training and performed the song to our colleagues. The general feeling amongst the group having achieved all this was pride, exhilaration and excitement. There was a certain buzz amongst the group, some thinking about seriously getting into music, taking up an instrument as a hobby and perhaps even forming a band!

Gaining this experience made me think a bit more about playing an instrument again, and reflect upon why I gave up learning as a teenager, possibly like so many others that lose interest or figure there's more to teenage life than scales and arpeggios.

It seems however that from a large amount of research recently conducted more and more children are taking up musical instruments. The Associated Board of the Royal School of Music (ABRSM) has released one of the biggest surveys of instrumental teaching in the UK to date. 'Making Music' is a snapshot of the number of children learning and playing musical instruments, and music teachers' opinions about their jobs. On the surface, the picture is encouraging. Initiatives by successive governments seem to have reversed the decline in music education: 76% of five to 14 year olds say they 'know how to play' an instrument (35% more than in a similar survey in 1999), and the spread of instruments played is greater. Of these young musicians, just over half are currently taking instrumental lessons, whether a basic percussion class or grade exams. 21% of five to 17-year-olds say they have taught themselves, which may explain the popularity of the electric guitar - now rivalling the violin, though still not as popular as the classical guitar. Digital technology is also making it easier for everyone to have a go. The number of people playing keyboards shot up from 9% in 1999 to 20% in 2014. The most popular instrument is now the piano, which has increased from 8% to 23% over the last 15 years. Compared with 1999 there has been rise in instrumental learning across the board, with increasing numbers of children playing a wider variety of instruments and some children playing two or more, suggests the report.

The reason behind this increase could be that people are realising the benefits that go with learning and playing an instrument; by doing a short amount of research it seems the positives are never ending. One predominant factor is that playing a musical instrument can increase the capacity of your memory and stimulate the brain. Others include: refining your time management and organisational skills; boosting your team cohesion skills; teaching perseverance and patience; enhancing your hand eye coordination; bettering your mathematical ability (counting notes and rhythms) and improving your reading and comprehension skills.

An article from The Telegraph Online Magazine also reported; "New research suggests that regularly playing an instrument changes the shape and power of the brain and may be used in therapy to improve cognitive skills”. In addition to this, other results show that playing an instrument can help increase your IQ by seven points.

All in all it seems learning an instrument seems like the logical thing to do, and was perhaps a small hint from our forward thinking Company. Employees could become more focused, patient and organised with an improved memory; I can see all CEO's heading for the nearest music shop as we speak. It was clear to see there were some enthusiastic and aspiring musicians in the group, perhaps an employee initiative could incorporate the idea of being more involved in music and perhaps even start taking up some lessons. I guess squeezing a piano into my one bed apartment would be slightly problematic although I'm always one for trying.

To find out about the latest opportunities to join our (now musical) team - visit our microsite...
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