Music school appeals to retired Scots to take up instruments

A Scottish music school is appealing to retirees to consider learning a musical instrument in later life – and is being backed by a 65-year-old former nurse who has taken up the drums.

Sunday, 19th September 2021, 4:55 am
Drummer Helen King. Picture: Contributed

Morningside School of Music, in Edinburgh, has received increasing interest from adults with more time on their hands following the pandemic and associated lockdowns.

Now they are calling for older participants to consider getting involved, pointing to the numerous physical and mental health benefits it brings.

Since retiring just before the Covid pandemic struck, Helen King planned to use her newfound free time productively.

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Linda Boyd, director of Morningside School of Music

She is now three months into drumming lessons with the school, and has an electric kit to practice at her Edinburgh home in-between classes.

“It’s the quickest half hour of my week,” she said.

“When I leave the lesson I can’t wait to get back home and use what I’ve just learned to try and get better.

“I find it exhilarating, I would recommend it to everyone.”

The multiple health benefits which come from musical activity are one of the driving motivations for her getting involved.

“Obviously drumming is a physical activity, but it’s a mental one too – you have to concentrate the whole time on keeping your mind and body in sync.

“To me, sitting down is death – it’s so important as you get older to do things that keep you physically and mentally active.

“I believe in lifelong learning. Since I started lessons in July I’ve had a couple of friends who are also retired asking about it, showing an interest in taking up an instrument.

“I still get a little nervous when I first go into the practice room and it takes me a few minutes to get settled. It’s just the build up to putting everything you've practiced through the week together and showing the teacher you’re making progress, which I think I am.”

Helen added that for those concerned about Covid, the lessons within the school itself were completely safe.

“It feels very secure when you’re in there,” she said. “Everything is completely clean and there’s distance and Perspex screens between you and the teacher.”

And with the school open during the day and evening, she said that learning an instrument can fit in with anyone's schedule.

“I've plenty to do in the evenings and it’s during the day I have the time. So the availability of day time lessons really suits me.”

Linda Boyd, director of Morningside School of Music, said: “Many of our older students point to the many health benefits they get from taking up an instrument.

“There have been all kinds of studies showing that learning an instrument can help ward off common diseases like dementia.

“It also opens up opportunities to people who perhaps hadn’t considered doing things like playing with others or even in concert.

“Since lockdown we’ve seen more and more adults come forward looking for something different in their life.

“We’re here to cater for everyone, and we take great pleasure from giving these learning opportunities to people, however unlikely they might once have thought it.”

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