Love for making music hits high note in recession

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Whether it is owning an instrument or playing one, interest in music is increasing despite the recession, a new survey showed.

Doug Fleener plays the fiddle at the 34th annual State of Tennessee Old-Time Fiddlers' Championships in Clarkesville, Tennessee March 22, 2008. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Nearly 60 percent of people questioned in the Gallup poll said at least one person in their household played a musical instrument, compared to 52 percent in 2006.

“Everywhere you look, you see how the pastime of playing music is continuing to gain in popularity with people of all ages, as evidenced by our recent Gallup poll,” said Joe Lamond, president and CEO of the non-profit trade group the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM).

The poll commissioned by NAMM also showed that 85 percent of people who do not play an instrument wished they did.

“It is one of those optional things most people wish they could do,” said Scott Robertson, the group’s director of marketing and communications.

One of the biggest barriers to playing music is time and other activities competing for consumers’ schedules, according to the poll, which is done every three years.

Fifty nine percent of the people surveyed said lack of time and work commitments stopped them from indulging in music, while activities such sports and video games kept children from playing an instrument.

A lingering recession and mounting job losses have left scores of Americans strapped for funds. Tough economic conditions have forced worried consumers to even cut down on shopping -- a favorite pastime for many.

About 94 percent of the 1000 people who took part in the telephone poll said playing an instrument was relaxing, while 87 percent said music was a very important part of their lives.

But more than eight in 10 people were certain, or at least mostly sure, that mastering a musical instrument improves intelligence.

If not for anything else, people see the ability to play a musical instrument as beneficial for the future. More than 90 percent said taking part in music activities improves creativity in young people.