We lead such busy lives that it’s really important to find ways to relax and reduce the stress that we experience each day. Music is the perfect outlet for escaping a hectic day, and it’s something that you can easily incorporate into everyday. Chances are, music is already a part of your day, but it never hurts to try new things or to start being more intentional about your current habits.
One thing that I’ve recently learned about myself is that I need to intentionally turn my brain off right before I go to bed. If I try to transition from my normally daily activities or work and go straight to bed, I have trouble getting to sleep or have really unrestful sleep. But if I step away from my usual responsibilities for a few minutes and do something really relaxing, I almost never struggle going to sleep.
Since music is my job and something that I think about all day long most days, I have to be careful to wind down with music that is truly relaxing, rather than something that will turn my brain on and get me thinking.
I really believe that participating in and creating music are ideal ways to unwind and reduce stress. But, if playing music yourself doesn’t fit into your life right now, there are many other ways that anyone can experience music.
1. Improvise on the black keys of the piano
This is something that absolutely anyone can do, even with no previous piano experience. The black keys on the piano produce harmonious sounds when played together. This means that any combination of black keys that you play will sound good together.
If you have a piano or keyboard at your house, all you have to do is sit down and start experimenting with playing only black keys.
Try to discover patterns of sound that you enjoy. This does not have to be complicated. It’s as simple as exploring what it sounds like as you move between keys. If you find something you like, play it again. Play individual keys or play multiple keys together.
(If you don’t have a piano yet, this is a full-sized keyboard that I recommend for beginners.)
2. Listen To Relaxing Music
There’s a good chance that you already listen to a lot of different music throughout the day. Some of it might be music that you really enjoy, some of it might be music that you tolerate, and some might be music you really don’t like.
Even if you have some regular tunes that you enjoy listening to, I highly recommend finding music outside of what you would normally choose. I’m sure people could make a case for almost any kind of music being relaxing, but I suggest finding classics or simple acoustic music.
My favorite classical album to recommend to people is The Most Relaxing Classical Music In The Universe. It lives up to it’s name. It’s a wonderful mix of really familiar classics and pieces that you may not have heard before. It’s a really solid collection of music and a great way to discover what classical music you are drawn to. Once you have a few favorites from this collection, you can find similar music by the same composers when you’re ready to branch out.
When you’re intentionally listening to relaxing music, avoid the temptation to multitask. See if you can stop what you’re doing and really listen to the music. Use it as a springboard for mediation, close your eyes, breathe deeply and slowly and focus on what you hear.
3. Go To A Live Music Concert
Listening to live music is even better than listening to recorded music. It gives you an opportunity to put your complete focus on the music that is begin played. Seeing real musicians and their interactions with the music gives it new life and makes it a unique experience.
Hearing live music doesn’t have to mean buying an expensive ticket or attending a big event. Once again, I recommend finding classical or simple acoustic music for a relaxing experience.
Many coffee shops and cafes have live music throughout the week. In my city, it’s easy to find quick lunchtime concerts and smaller, more intimate performances put on by our local symphony, opera and church musicians.
Make a point to hear and experience live music on a regular basis, whether it’s weekly, monthly or just whenever you can make it happen. You’ll leave the performance feeling refreshed. And, you’ll be exposed to all kinds of new music to explore further.
4. Learn Piano As A Hobby
As a life-long pianist, I can tell you first-hand that one of the best parts of playing the piano is that it is the ultimate way to relax and unwind.
It definitely takes work to play the piano, but in between all the work, there are so many wonderful moments where you get to form an intimate relationship with your music. From the moment you start learning piano, you’ll get to experience a completely fun feeling of getting lost in the moment of being a part of something beautiful, exciting and fulfilling.
Many adults might remember or perceive piano lessons as a strict regimented activity from childhood. There might be a lot of nervousness or fear associated with learning the piano.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way! Adults can throw away all of their previous frustrations, anxiety or uncertainty about playing the piano and embrace it as a fun new, low pressure hobby.
My online course, Beginning Piano For Adults is a perfect way to try out piano lessons as an adult. My online students get to virtually step into my studio each week for 8 weeks. You learn 26 songs in a really fun and engaging format. Since the course is all online, you work entirely at your own pace and on your own schedule. Click here to learn more.
5. Learn Ukulele
If learning piano doesn’t interest you or doesn’t fit into your life right now, another great instrument to learn and play is the ukulele. It’s a super popular instrument right now, and for a good reasons – it’s small and easy to work with, quick and simple to learn and makes fun, fulfilling music.
Ukuleles are pretty affordable at about $40-$50. There are tons of online apps and tutorials so that you can learn for free. My students and I have had a lot of success using the app Yousician to learn and practice the ukulele. YouTube is full of videos explaining how to get started. Once you have a few chords under your belt, you can find play-along videos on YouTube to help you practice.
This is probably the easiest way that you can experience you music! It requires no extra materials or advanced planning. Just you and your voice!
Singing is so simple and many of us probably haven’t considered all of the benefits that come from singing.
Upliftconnect.com has a fantastic article on the neuroscience of singing. It says:
The neuroscience of singing shows that when we sing our neurotransmitters connect in new and different ways. It fires up the right temporal lobe of our brain, releasing endorphins that make us smarter, healthier, happier and more creative. When we sing with other people this effect is amplified.
Isn’t that cool?! And what’s even better is that you can literally sing anywhere or anytime. You can sing silly songs with your kids or sing them lullabies. You can sing in the car or in the shower when no one can hear you. You can sing around the house while you’re doing chores. Or, you could join a choir and making singing a regular part of your week.
Don’t worry if you don’t think you have a good voice. Sing anyways!
I challenge you to try one of these 6 ideas this week. Remember that it doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to be intentional!
Have you discovered other relaxing ways to enjoy music? Share them in the comments below!