How Playing an Instrument Can Help Introverts Express Themselves

An introvert plays an instrument

In a world filled with noise, playing an instrument is the perfect way for introverts to feel heard and seen. 

As introverts, we tend to overthink just about anything (and then continue to overthink our overthinking!). Often, we have trouble saying all our thoughts out loud, especially on the spot. Yet something that can help with expressing ourselves is learning to play an instrument.

Similar to how getting your thoughts down on paper helps to clear things up, it also feels comforting taking all that’s in your mind and being able to put it into your music. No matter what you are feeling, letting out that energy and emotion into the song you’re playing not only makes it sound better, but it also makes you feel better. Whether it’s strumming the guitar loudly, playing an emotional melody on the piano, or letting it all out on the drums, there is a wide range of ways you can show your emotions.

For me, adding in my own lyrics while playing the guitar helps me best express my emotions. Music, along with writing, has always been a safe space for me. 

I first decided I wanted to take guitar lessons in fourth grade, after a friend began to. Soon after, I had my very own guitar (almost bigger than I was in size)! I was very excited to start playing, and once I started taking lessons, I realized just how much I liked it. 

It was perfect for my introverted self because the lessons at the music school I went to were laid-back and enjoyable, and there weren’t any recitals or performances that were required. (Phew — my introverted self could breathe a sigh of relief!) I didn’t take lessons for too long, but throughout the years I went back to playing the guitar and teaching myself new songs. I still have a lot I could learn, but for me, I do it as a hobby, so it’s more about enjoying it.  

I often don’t feel comfortable singing and performing my songs, but just holding my guitar makes me feel more at ease, whether I’m playing a song for a few friends or I’m just in my room playing for myself. Like me, there are many musical artists who are introverts, from Lorde to Bob Dylan.

Play an Instrument to Perform With More Confidence

Many people feel more comfortable and confident performing with an instrument rather than without it. This can be especially helpful for us introverts, who often don’t feel comfortable having the spotlight entirely on us.

A study done in Finland found that musicians that had the perspective of being one with their instrument had less social phobia and performance anxiety. This is believed to stem from the experience of the “flow state,” which leads to more enjoyable and engaging performances. Feeling these moments of flow repeatedly for short amounts of time eventually leads to the long-term experience of the musician feeling merged with their instrument. This is not only beneficial in terms of their well-being, but also leads to more “spontaneous expression of artistic ideas.”

The study describes the musical instrument as “the musician’s channel through which all factors, such as immediate effort, years of practice, and emotional expression of the music, are bundled into a musical performance.” This shows that the instrument can play a big role; it can be used as a way to express yourself and to feel more comfortable doing it.

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Additional Benefits of Playing an Instrument for Introverts

Playing an instrument can also have many other benefits for your well-being, especially if you are an introvert:

  • It improves your mood. Research has found that playing an instrument is good for your mental health. Even if you’re just playing for yourself, playing an instrument is a positive outlet to release your feelings. Letting out your emotions often makes you feel better. If you’re feeling down, it could help to play an upbeat song or a song that cheers you up. Or if you’re feeling unmotivated, try playing a song that is meaningful to you, in order to spark inspiration. Playing an instrument not only boosts your creativity, but it also inspires new ideas and improvisations while you’re playing. 
  • It connects you to others. Playing an instrument gives you an opportunity to join others who play, whether it’s through a class, group, or a band. This is an easy way for us introverts to bond with people, which does not always come naturally to us. This allows you to be creative not only in front of others, but also together, which can add a sense of connectivity. Being able to share your music — and listen to music in general — also helps people feel connected because they can relate to each other through it. And, having an instrument that you play can be an excuse for you to share something with others (and to feel more comfortable sharing). If there is a piano at somebody’s house, for example, or if you have your guitar with you, you can contribute to the group without having to make conversation (if you choose to, of course).
  • It can serve as a new hobby to feel proud of. Learning to play an instrument is a good hobby for introverts because it’s something you can do alone. If you’re new to playing an instrument, start with tutorials online (which are introvert-friendly) or take one-on-one lessons (virtually or in person). It’s not easy, but practice always helps. If you’re revisiting an instrument you used to play, try playing it in a different way. Honestly, there is no better feeling than seeing the results of your practice.

Choose an Instrument — and Practice, Practice, Practice!

The beginning stages might not be the most fun when learning to play an instrument because it’s new and it takes effort. However, it’s like that with anything that you learn — and the rewards are worth it.

With practice, you get better and learn different techniques until, eventually, you start tweaking things here and there and making the songs your own. The more you play and master the instrument, the better you will be able to work toward creating your own music, if that’s something you want to do. Whether you are creating your own song or playing an existing one, it’s in the way you play it, and more importantly, the way it makes you feel. When you enjoy it and put your emotions into it, the music you’re playing becomes (and sounds) that much better.

Playing an instrument not only helps you express yourself and makes you feel better, but you’re also playing music that other people can enjoy and connect with. It will always be there when you need an emotional outlet. No matter what you’re going through, who’s around, or how you feel, you can always pick up your instrument and play a song or two.

Playing an instrument can not only be an escape, but it can also help you find yourself. In a world filled with noise, it’s the perfect way for us introverts to be heard and to feel seen.

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I graduated from CSUN as a creative writing major. I’m an introverted person, but often an extroverted writer! I love to express myself through creativity, whether it’s writing, art, or music. I've written pieces for places such as San Gabriel Valley Now and The Love Story. To see more of my creative pieces, follow my Instagram page @tothebeatofmyart.