A climber at Joshua Tree National Park.

A climber at Joshua Tree National Park.

Sometimes, I don’t get the chance to go climbing as often as I like. What’s worse, is that when I get back into climbing, the rocks tear up my hands. The finger strength and the proper form is still intact (for the most-part,) but once my skin is raw from climbing, I have to stop. This may not bother me much, but what if I have a weekend off and I decide to make a weekend trip where climbing is the main thing (i.e. Joshua Tree)? Fortunately, we can do something to callus our fingers in a musical way for to keep us ready for climbing. What is that, you may ask? Playing an instrument.

Playing instruments have a lot of advantages that go far beyond calluses on our fingers. Playing an instrument increases finger strength and coordination. Learning an instrument teaches discipline, improves concentration and increases cognitive skills. Furthermore, learning a new instrument helps decrease, or prolong, the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and/or dementia. Here is a video and article that can help illustrate these points:

Also check out this National Geographic article here to learn some of the science behind it.

Although you may learn or play any instrument, for sake of rock climbing, I would recommend playing string instrument, such as the cello, violin or guitar. I have tried playing guitar, but I found it too difficult (as I am not musically inclined when it comes to instruments,) so I gave playing the ukulele a try. I have enjoyed playing the ukulele, and I am not bad at it either. So, if you find most other instruments too difficult to play, you may consider learning to play the ukulele. A ukulele is usually inexpensive, even the nicer ones do not cost too much. For me, playing a ukulele is win-win-win: I can learn an instrument, it give me the extra callus I need and it is inexpensive.

Whatever instrument you choose to play, practice for at least fifteen to thirty minutes (for sake of the calluses.) However much more you wish to practice your instrument is entirely up to you. Learning a new instrument is difficult, especially for me, but once you get the hang of it, playing an instrument can be quite enjoyable.