Merit School of Music

How Playing an Instrument Improves Your Health & Wellness

An illustration of a woman who sits in a meditation pose while holding a brain in one hand and a heart in the other. Music notes and instruments float around her.

You might have noticed that creating music makes you feel good, but have you ever wondered why? Scientists have found that playing an instrument or singing has a direct impact on natural healing processes throughout the brain and body.


Let’s take a closer look at the positive impact music can have on the health and wellness of student musicians of all ages and experience levels.

Increases Happiness & Reduces Pain

When you make music, your brain releases endorphins—chemicals that induce feelings of joy and pleasure and block the nerve cells that cause us to feel stress and pain.

How exactly does music release endorphins? Interestingly, our brains use the same “roadways”—or neural pathways—to process pain as music does. So when you’re playing an instrument or singing, you’re using those roadways, reducing their bandwidth for processing mental or physical pain.

Dopamine, the “feel good” neurotransmitter in the brain, also goes hand in hand with music. Playing music releases dopamine causing you to feel emotions like happiness, excitement, and joy.

Calms Stress & Anxiety

Music has a calming effect on our brains, which in turn reduces cortisol—a stress related hormone that impacts a wide variety of responses such as inflammation, blood sugar, and your body’s stress response. Lower cortisol levels counteract the effects of chronic stress, promoting lower blood pressure, proper sleep regulation and, thus, a healthier daily cycle.

In addition, studying music supports brain development, including in areas of the brain responsible for anxiety management. 

Supports Emotional Regulation & Self Expression

Music also strengthens areas of the brain affecting emotional control, which helps you to recognize and intentionally respond to the rollercoaster of emotions that come with being human.

The act of making music involves understanding emotional messaging, requiring you to tap into, acknowledge, and express your feelings. The more you go through this process of emotional regulation and expression through music, the easier it gets in or out of the practice room. Music education is truly a form of therapy! 

Builds Your Muscles & Lungs

Studying music is also good for your body. You might not realize it, but when playing an instrument you’re often using your arm, core, and back muscles. In addition, the deep breathing that voice, wind, and brass instruments require builds stronger lungs.


Creates Connections & Community

When making music with others, such as in a group music class, chamber group, or ensemble, you meet new people and become a part of a community of music-lovers. It’s been proven that social connection makes us happier, less stressed, and even helps us live longer. 

Boosts Your Immunity

What may come as the biggest surprise of all, is that music-making can actually increase your immunity!🤯 Just like endorphins and dopamine, whether playing in an orchestra or practicing solo, making music increases the output of antibodies like immunoglobulin, helping your body fight off germs and bacteria.

In a day and age when stress and anxiety are at an all-time high, the power of music can go a long way for your health and wellness. 

→ Read more about the top 4 mental and physical benefits of music education. 💪🧠

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