Three times a week, I get up an hour and a half earlier than usual to attend marching band practice. Even though the extra sleep is always a tempting option, I faithfully drag myself to these rehearsals, as well as the additional five hours of weekly afternoon marching. Although I show up tired and crankier than a sleep-deprived honey badger, I leave the band room each time feeling energized and refreshed. I’ll admit it: I’m a band geek.
Participating in band, choir, or orchestra can be an incredibly rewarding experience during your school years. Getting to play a marimba solo at a state competition helped me build my self-confidence, while playing percussion at pep rallies was just plain fun (and a great way to vent my anger via cowbell). If you’re not in school, community bands and choruses are a great way to casually meet new people and perform for others.
Playing an instrument is plenty of fun, but it can also help your mental and physical health. For example, a recent study from the University of St. Andrews found that even amateur musicians showed better cognitive skills and could fix mistakes more easily when compared to non-musicians. Developing your creative side can even help to reverse the effects of aging! For me, the stress relieving benefits of music are the best part. As a percussionist, I get the chance to create thunderous timpani rolls and obnoxiously loud cymbal hits, as well as the ability to play soft chords on keyboard instruments. Thus, music making can both calm and excite me within the course of a single song.
The dedication and work ethic that come with practicing, whether it be a piano or just your own voice, can also improve your time management skills and willpower. Personally, scheduling regular practice times provided structure and predictability to my week, making them worth the free time I gave up. It’s great to play for yourself or a small group of people, but joining an ensemble, band, or choir group can also help you make friends and provide yourself with a sense of belonging. My band director would always remind us that by coming together as a single group, we were more powerful than any of us alone.