Looking for a hobby that's not only fun but great for your health? How about taking up music?

According to studies conducted by NAMM, the trade association of the international music products industry, playing a musical instrument can increase memory, reduce stress, lower blood pressure, build confidence and result in greater academic success. So it's no surprise that a stunning 82 percent of Americans who don't currently play an instrument wish they did.

"At age 5 or 85, everyone can benefit socially, mentally and physically from playing an instrument," says Joe Lamond, president and CEO of NAMM and a life-long drummer. "It's never too late to start, and playing an instrument is something that can last a lifetime."

NAMM is spreading the word about the benefits of music making through its national Wanna Play? campaign, designed to inspire people to get involved in making music, whether by taking lessons or purchasing an instrument they've always wanted to play. And it looks like people are getting the message. More and more Americans are dusting off their old instruments or trying one out for the first time. Garage bands are no longer exclusively teen-aged rockers. They are now made up of everyone from middle-aged moms wanting to reduce stress to the elderly aiming to improve their memory through playing a musical instrument.

Even the government is behind the benefits of making music. Recently, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed House Concurrent Resolution 121, showing support for music education as part of a complete curriculum for all children. NAMM-funded research has found that 96 percent of public school principals believe that participating in music education encourages and motivates students to stay in school longer. Additionally, on the SAT Reasoning Test, students taking courses in music performance scored 57 points higher on critical reading, 58 points higher on writing and 43 points higher on mathematics than students with no arts and music participation, according to the 2006 College-Bound Seniors Annual Report.

Celebrities and public figures have also come forward in their support for NAMM's Wanna Play? campaign and its message. Gavin DeGraw, the talented singer/songwriter/pianist/guitarist who broke onto the music scene with his hit "I Don't Want to Be," brings his passion for making music to people of all ages as the first ambassador of the campaign.

"You can feel the excitement and sense of possibility in everyone who picks up an instrument, whether they are my age or my dad's age," says DeGraw. "To play music, I don't need any money in my pocket or anyone else around. Music has changed my life; are you ready to let it change yours?"

DeGraw is reaching out to kids and adults alike, convincing people to pursue -- or perhaps revisit -- their passion for playing an instrument.

You can visit www.namm.org for more information on the Wanna Play? campaign and the positive impact of music making.

Courtesy of ARAcontent


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