5 Ways Playing Music Boosts Your Professional Productivity

5 Ways Playing Music Boosts Your Professional Productivity
  • February 28, 2024

Let’s take a moment to mourn all of the would-be instrumentalists who never made it past beginner music theory, all because they felt like they needed to commit to something more “serious”. Does this describe you? Did you once deeply enjoy the act of practicing an instrument for fun, but ultimately felt the need to let it go, because of other, more serious priorities?

What if I told you that wasn’t really the case, and there’s research that proves that practicing music, even in small amounts, has great benefits to your more “serious” endeavors, like your professional life. Here are five ways that practicing music can help you in the workplace:

1. Playing Music Increases Collaboration Skills

Collaboration has been proven to be one of the most important skills to possess in the workplace. This skill is important because it helps foster a sense of community, increases empathy, and builds positive relationships among employees. All of these things allow for the communal understanding of a larger goal in the workplace, ensuring that everyone is on the same page. Ultimately, the ability to collaborate effectively gives you a sense of purpose and meaning in the workplace, leading to increased motivation. 

Whether learning to play an instrument with a one-on-one private instructor or amongst peers in a group, collaboration is a key skill that results. It is essential for you, as the student, to carefully listen to the feedback that your instructor gives. You must communicate which key concepts you are struggling with in order to improve, and you have to exercise your listening skills to understand how to get better. In a group class, you learn to be comfortable being vulnerable with your peers, trusting that they will choose to help rather than discourage you. Also, playing duets in a group setting teaches you to understand others’ interpretations of concepts such as rhythm, key signature, and tempo. Once you identify others’ interpretations, then you must communicate with one another to ensure your individual perceptions of notes blend together cohesively in the final product (the duet). 

This process of identifying, recognizing, and understanding the thoughts and feelings of others is also known as empathy. Empathy as a result of collaboration is a critical skill in the workplace because it allows you to become a better leader.

2. Practicing Music Is A Great Stress Reliever

Practicing an instrument, in any setting, is a great way to relieve stress. You’re probably asking, how does playing music relieve stress? 

One way is that the experience of practicing an instrument is like a mindfulness technique in itself. Mindfulness has been proven to release stress, allowing you to avoid thinking about future anxieties or past stresses. When you sit down to practice the guitar (especially as a beginner), you’re focusing so intensely on the ways your fingers are moving, which notes you are playing, and your muscle memory. You wouldn’t even have the capacity to think about anxieties if you wanted to! Additionally, research has proven that music releases several stress-fighting hormones like oxytocin and dopamine. One study showed that 30-minute singing lessons were able to significantly improve the well-being of both professional and amateur singers. Similarly, dopamine is released when we accomplish individual tasks. Practicing an instrument releases dopamine, resulting in pleasure and motivation from learning new notes, chords, and pieces. 

Coping with stress is another highly valuable skill in the modern workplace. It increases productivity, morale, motivation, focus, and in general, satisfaction. By effectively learning to relieve stress, doing whatever tasks you are assigned becomes much easier. Stress relief allows you to spend more time focusing on higher-level tasks that will lead to higher outputs. It all comes down to the simple truth that, if you’re too stressed at work, then you’ll eventually burn out and stop producing positive results. Practicing an instrument, for however many minutes a day you can afford, will ensure that this does not happen. 

3. Learning To Play An Instrument Increases Agility

Agility, also known as the ability to move quickly and easily, is a skill that will make you stand out in the modern workplace. You may be asking, why do I need to have agility? Forbes Magazine identified the skill of agility as one of its top three most important skills for ensuring workplace success. It has become clear that in this day and age, successful employers deeply value agile employees. Agility is important because it proves you are adaptable and able to meet the changing needs of a customer-based market. It also increases productivity, empowerment, and job satisfaction. Everyone loves completing tasks in ways that feel easier and go faster! 

Practicing music is a great way to develop your agility skills. One way is that musicians who improvise and create melodies are literally training their brains to respond to changes on the fly. Improvisation in an instrumental ensemble depends on one musician listening to what another musician plays and “responding” to it in an accurate way. This process is like a metaphor to describe the way the workplace functions. You, as the employee, must quickly respond to changes happening around you to succeed. Another way practicing musicians are agile is that they must learn to become comfortable playing different types of pieces. A successful beginner musician learns various types of patterns but also recognizes that no two pieces are the same. If you learn a rock & roll piece, followed by a classical piece, you are actively building your agility. You are learning to be comfortable with change and to believe in your ability to roll with the punches, no matter what is in front of you.

4. Practicing An Instrument Makes You Smarter

Cognitive skills, unconscious thought patterns our brain produces, are arguably one of the most basic (but valuable) skills to have in the workplace. Example cognitive skills include audio and visual processing, long-term and short-term memory, and processing speeds. An employee possessing high amounts of cognitive skills will finish tasks more quickly and more easily, because of the way their brain processes information. The Harvard Business Review found that teams with higher cognitive abilities and diversity were able to solve problems at a pace up to three times quicker than their counterparts. Clearly, it is a valuable skill. 

Research has shown that playing music improves our cognitive skills. More specifically, practicing music increases our reaction times, literacy, the brain’s executive function, and memory. For example, when rehearsing a piece for a performance, a musician needs to memorize notes. Before being able to perform a piece, the musician needed to have developed their own patterns and ways of quickly recognizing different note names and physical positions on their instrument. Doing this is a direct way of improving speed when it comes to processing times. Also, the act of rehearsing a piece over and over again increases memory which is very useful in even day-to-day interactions you would have in the workplace.

5. Playing music boosts creativity

Practicing an instrument makes you more creative, and employers love that! Why? Because it means you can solve problems better than your non-creative counterparts. Creativity has recently become another highly valuable skill to build in the workplace. Being creative allows you to be more innovative, productive, and adaptable. In today’s day and age, companies are seeking ways to stand out against their competitors. Now more than ever, companies need to have a competitive advantage because there are so many private businesses seeking to reach out to the same type of customers. Your creativity as an employee will help your business more effectively create solutions to problems that others can’t. Your experience coming up with creative solutions in your music practice will really help your employers as well. 

Playing an instrument teaches you to stimulate your brain in new and interesting ways, how to recognize patterns, and to collaborate with others. All of these concepts are needed in order for you as a musician to come up with effective solutions to musical problems. It is no different in the workplace! If you apply the right lens of thinking, you understand that being creative in a musical setting applies in the same way as in a professional setting. Learning this simple fact will help you develop your skills of creativity and problem-solving, making you a more efficient employee.

Ready To Start Music Lessons?

Hopefully, this article was able to prove that musical practice can be extremely beneficial to your professional life. Whether you’re looking for a fun way to relieve stress caused by a bad boss, or for a more focused strategy to improve your cognitive skills, we’re here to let you know that our music lessons might be the answer you’ve been looking for!