“How does one do it? Well, you just keep doing what you love to do. That’s all. It’s very simple.”

Randolph Hokanson

(Not sure who Randolph Hokanson is? Read on to find out!)

Retirement is an interesting time in life. Much like starting high school or heading off to college, it’s a new road that is paved with numerous possibilities. Everyone decides how they will spend their retirement years differently, depending on financial situations, health, and other factors. When it comes to deciding how to spend your new-found time bank, you’ve got plenty of options.

Many retirees spend a significant amount of time doing activities they never found time for before: reading, taking naps, gardening, or tinkering with other hobbies. If time is valuable, they’re rich. They might not consider that they could spend their time making music to reap an even better reward.

You might be straddling the fence on whether or not to pick up an instrument in your golden years. Whether you played an instrument in the past – perhaps well before retirement – or have never even tried, chances are you’ve built up a few arguments as to why it’s not worth putting in the practice hours.

Below, we’ve listed 3 arguments you might have about playing an instrument in retirement and why we think you should reconsider them.

1. My body isn’t up to it.

It’s true: as our bodies age, we deal with an onslaught of health issues. We lose our sharp sight and hearing skills. Our bones creak and cramp more easily. We’re not as mobile as we used to be.

Did you know that making music can help you combat many of these things?

Take hearing loss, for example. Studies actually show that playing an instrument can improve hearing even after some hearing loss has begun.

Or arthritis, which you might have thought was a show-stopper. Surprisingly, studies also show that playing an instrument can actually help with some forms of arthritis by preventing early onset and maintaining flexibility. And remember, there’s always singing!

Whatever your physical ailments, don’t let them hinder you from practicing. Talk with your doctor about ways to treat your condition or how making music can help you improve.

2. I’m too busy trying to figure things out.

If you’re just entering retirement from having a full-time job, you might feel that you’ve got more time than you know what to do with. A big part of learning to be comfortable in retirement is creating a new self-identity.

Many new retirees struggle to define themselves without having a job. As we spend the bulk of our lives working, it’s no surprise that once we stop, we don’t really know how to define who we are. Without the tangible responsibilities that come with our professional lives, we struggle to explain to someone what we “do.”

This can be such a serious challenge that it’s not uncommon for new retirees to experience depression. According to the Institute of Economic Affairs in the United Kingdom, individuals are 40% more likely to suffer from depression after retirement. Without the momentum of work filling 8+ hours of our days, it’s no wonder that we’re suddenly at a loss of how to manage and spend our time.

Don’t let a change of self-identity get you down. Replace your work with something meaningful by learning an instrument. Not only are there numerous health and physical benefits, but playing music will open other outlets to you to become a part of a community and make new friends. Studies show that retirement is the best time to learn an instrument.

Still not convinced? Read this inspiring story by Sydney Lagier about how she found a new identity apart from work and took up piano lessons after a 30 year break.

3. I’m not a “music person.”

You might try to argue that no-one is interested in listening to you play your instrument. Perhaps you believe that because you know little about pitch or don’t have “natural” rhythm, learning an instrument isn’t for you.

We’ve got news: these things simply aren’t true.

Rhythm, reading music, good pitching, and playing by ear can all be learned. If you’ve studied music before, chances are you’ll reawaken your old skills faster than you imagined.

Don’t be worried about who you will play for. Play for yourself! Making music can help combat that risk of depression we mentioned earlier. If you are interested in playing for others, consider volunteering to give a short concert at a local retirement home.

Famous pianist Randolph Hokanson is one person who didn’t let his age stop him from practicing. To celebrate his 100th birthday, he gave a piano concert at the retirement home where he resides. We could all take a little inspiration from him.


Interested in getting started? Join Musical U today! Our online modules and active community of musicians will help you get the support and practice you need.

Many of our most successful members are in their retirement years. We so firmly believe that retirement is a great opportunity to explore your musicality that we offer a Senior Discount.