Friday, May 13, 2022

How Playing An Instrument Benefits Your Brain

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Music And Brain Function

How playing an instrument benefits your brain – Anita Collins

If you spend any time at all on social media, youve probably seen the videos of otherwise unresponsive Alzheimers or Parkinsons disease patients;lighting up when a favorite piece of music from their younger days plays.

Theres this one, where an old man in a nursing home on his last legs comes to life. After listening to some of his favorite music, he becomes incredibly responsive, answering questions about himself and his life. Music gives him access to the parts of his brain that were previously shut out, at least for a brief moment.

The most recent one I saw is of a former New York City prima ballerina with Alzheimers disease. When she hears Swan Lake, she motions to raise the volume and then launches into the choreography from her chairthe same dance she mastered and performed over 50 years prior.; Even as Im writing this and picturing it, I feel tears welling up from the beauty of the moment.

Most of you reading this arent in that dire of a cognitive situation, but you can probably relate to the effect music can have on our brains. Weve all felt the power of music. When that song comes on and catapults you back to some bygone era of your youth. When you hear an album and actually smell the smells, taste the tastes, and feel the emotions it evokes in you. Something powerful is happening in the brain, and we shouldnt wait til degeneration sets in.

Learning An Instrument: Brain Training That Actually Works

Its also one of the few mental workouts that can provably help to improve your brain in numerous areas.

Weve all come across ads for brain training games and systems, but the efficacy of these has long been under dispute; theres very little impartial evidence to suggest playing memory or cognition games on your phone has much of a long-lasting effect on mental abilities outside of the brain training games themselves.

On the other hand, getting formal tuition on your instrument of choice offers genuine brain training results that translate into other areas of your life

as well as a whole new skill to boot.

Musicians Proven To Have Higher Iqs

Psychologists at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee discovered way back in 2008 that musicians are more prone to divergent thinking; that is, having an elevated ability to use both hemispheres of the brain to come up with creative solutions to problems.

While this tends to be the case with anyone who is artistically creative, it seems to occur more naturally in musicians given the skills necessary to translate written musical score into highly precise motor movements to recreate the music with their instruments.

Numerous studies since then has backed up these findings, and the following TED-Ed animation neatly sums up how it all works:

In short, there are a number of mental benefits to being a musician:

  • Better problem-solving skills
  • Heightened social awareness
  • Aptitude for both linguistic and numerical skills

Of course, this brings us on to the question as to whether learning an instrument makes you smarter, or whether its smarter people who are more likely to pick up an instrument.

Again, a little bit of good news because

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Playing Music Makes You More Creative

Practising and perfecting a piece of music does wonders for the creative side of your brain. No matter how much a composer annotates their composition, they cannot fully express how a piece of music should be played. So it is up to the player to put their own stamp on a piece, to inject some of their personality into the music. Theres a reason classical artists win awards for their performances heres Julian Lloyd Webber with his super-emotional performance of Elgars Cello Concerto.

Lovely stuff.

Playing An Instrument For Brain Health

How Playing An Instrument Benefits Your Brain

We actually have evidence that playing an instrument is protective of brain health and function.

In one recent study, researchers asked 23 former orchestral musicians if they or any musician they knew had dementia. Dementia rates among the queried musicians were nonexistent, nor did any of them know other musicians who had the disease.1

Another study found that among older cognitively intact adults, those with a history of musical training had better episodic memory scores.2 Those who could read music had better episodic memory and better semantic verbal fluency. Notably, researchers controlled for IQ, so this wasnt just an intelligence test.

Another earlier study had similar results, finding that older adults with at least 10 years history as a musician performed better on a battery of cognitive tests than those with no experience.3 They didnt control for IQ but they did control for education attainment, which is a decent barometer of intelligence .

What about more direct trials? Can we show that playing instruments can actually elicit changes to the brains function?

Research has found that children who engage in musical training show increases in IQ, verbal memory, and linguistic ability, even when the control group is composed of kids with otherwise similar backgrounds except for the music training.78910 This doesnt;prove that playing instruments changes the brain or improves its function, but its quite suggestive.

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How Playing An Instrument Benefits Your Brain

Your brain is a muscle. When you give it more challenging exercises, youre strengthening your brains abilities to learn and grow. Now add some music to the mix:

When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout.

Find out how the brain is positively affected in the long term by learning an instrument in this TED Ed lesson by Anita Collins: How playing an instrument benefits your brain.

Playing A Musical Instrument Benefits Your Brain

When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What’s going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians’ brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout. Watch this lesson by Anita Collins, with animation by Sharon Colman Graham.

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Every Time Musicians Pick Up Their Instruments There Are Fireworks Going Off Inside Of Their Brains

This is one of my favorite quotes ever now. ;I always knew there was something different about me and now I know why . ;But in all seriousness, it is so amazing that just listening to music can make our brains make fireworks. ;Music really does help us to use both sides of our brain and so much is going on in our noggins at the same time.; If youre wanting to learn an instrument, check out what;The Music Stand;offers.

Heres The Really Neat Part In All This:

How playing a musical instrument benefits your brain for business | Hollie Whittles | TEDxTelford

However, when scientists turned from observing the brains of you the music listener to that of you the musician

The little backyard display of fireworks firing off in your brain becomes a massive jubilee. It turns out that while listening to music engages the brain in some pretty interesting activities

Playing music is the brains equivalent to a full body workout.

But what is it about making music that sets the brain alight?

Playing a musical instrument engages practically every area of the brain at once, especially the visual, auditory and motor cortices.

Much like any type of workout

A regime of disciplined, structured practice in playing music strengthens those brain functions allowing us to apply that strength to other activities.

The most obvious difference between listening to music and playing it, is that the latter requires fine motor skills which are controlled in both hemispheres of the brain.

Playing a musical instrument also combines the linguistic and mathematical precision in which the left hemisphere is more involved with the novel and creative content that the right excels in.

These are the reasons why playing music has been found to increase the volume and activity in the brains corpus callosum

Which is the bridge between the two hemispheres of your brain allowing messages to travel across your brain faster, using more diverse routes. ;

Because making music also involves crafting and understanding its emotional content and message, musicians

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Your Social Life Will Improve

Playing an instrument isnt only good for your brain, its also great for expanding your social circle . Joining a musical group at any age encourages you to develop relationships with new kinds of people. It also builds skills in leadership and team-building, as well as showing you the rewards of working with others.

How Learning An Instrument Improves Your Brain Function

words Al Woods

In recent studies, it has shown that musicaltraining can change the structure and improve the function of your brain. Thechanges can help with reducing anxiety, stimulate mental growth, and improvedlong term memory for older individuals and can enhance brain development at anearly age.

As individuals get older, reaction times can getslower, and music can increase reaction time and help older individuals. Learningan instrument helps with integrating a variety of senses due to heightenedauditory and audio-tactile, which scientists believe that music does help improvebrain functions because learning an instrument is a more productive and sophisticatedexperience, instead of playing brain games. When learning an instrument, apersons vision, hearing, and touch are all used, which helps with mastering subtlemovements.

Having the stimulation of multiple senses will helpenhance brain functions and can result in longer-lasting improvements for apersons brain functions and health. Brains are one of the essential organs ina persons body, as it controls everything.

One thing most people fear as they get older is cognitive decline, and this is why music and learning how to play an instrument can help with improving cognitive health.

Playing Music and the Brain

Learning to play an instrument expands the functionaland structural aspects of a persons brain in other ways as well.

Strengthen Bonds with Others

Enhance Memory and Reading Skills

Makes You Happy

Boost in Energy

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Playing An Instrument To Hit Flow State

Flow doesnt happen when you struggle. It doesnt happen when you trip over your own fingers or have to concentrate so hard you start sweating and stressing.; Flow happens when you know the material and the instrument so well that you fuse with it and become one. When you lose yourself in the music and all sense of time. If youre learning an instrument, you probably wont reach flow very reliably. To trigger a flow state, you should play something youre good at. Something that you can lose yourself in, whether thats a Chopin prelude or a simple hand drum beat. It all depends on your skill level.

But hitting that flow state is one of the major brain benefits of playing an instrument. Its instant mindfulness, where you turn off the churning brain for once and simply exist in the present moments as they unfold. If youve wanted to meditate but havent had any luck with typical sitting meditation, get to a place where you can groove or jam or play on an instrument for an extended period of time.

Brain Benefits Of Playing Instruments

How Playing An Instrument Benefits Your Brain

One of my biggest inspirations was my late father, Laurence Sisson. He supported our family as a painter, primarily water color paintings of New England nature scenes. His work ethic was insane as was his creative genius. But my most salient memories of him are not those spent in the art studio watching beautiful representations of natures glory appear before my eyes. No, what I remember most are the evenings spent around the piano.

He was also a great jazz pianist, and often took paying work as a musician when the times demanded it. During holidays, hed play the classics. On quiet afternoons, hed noodle on the keys. Piano music was the backdrop of the house. And, Im convinced, playing that piano kept his brain nimble to the very end.

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It Increases Discipline And Time Management Skills

Unless youre an out-of-this-world child prodigy, learning to play an instrument isnt a skill you can master overnight. Learning music takes time and effort, and helps children understand that if they want to be good at something, theyll need to put in the hours and organise their time effectively.

Tap Into The Benefits Of Music

Now that you know the massive benefits of learning a musical instrument, youre probably flooding your brain with questions like What instrument should I play? Or maybe you just want to play the easiest instrument to learn, or if youre feeling extremely ambitious, the hardest. Explore the wonderful world of music slowly, and try your hand at one or more instruments you enjoy.

With all the music apps and tutorials available today, you can master an instrument faster than ever.;Let us know in the comments what benefits you receive from learning an instrument!

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Benefits Of Playing An Instrument

Reading Time: 7minutes

Today we have a guest post from Mike Levitsky of, a site that offers guitar and drum lessons, gear reviews, and other helpful music info. Written with the help of one of his high school students, the article serves as a great reminder of the myriad benefits of playing an instrument. Important to remember when you just dont feel like practicing! We hope you enjoy it.

Choosing to play an instrument is the beginning of a journey. One that is exciting, but often filled with struggle and hard work. It will require you to take in new information and master new skills.

Listed below are some of the many benefits of playing an instrument. When you feel yourself getting discouraged, I hope that remembering these benefits will encourage you to keep practicing. I promise, playing a musical instrument is worthwhile!

In no particular order, learning to play an instrument:

Benefits Spelling And Iq In Children

How playing an instrument benefits your brain

The National Center for Biotechnology Information directed a study involving a group of German elementary students to study the effects of musical training. They compared three groups: those who played an instrument, those who didnt play an instrument, and those who didnt play an instrument but had a member of the family did. They found that the non-verbal IQ of those who played an instrument was the highest. In addition, those who played an instrument had the fewest spelling mistakes. Perhaps playing an instrument is the perfect solution for a child who is struggling in school!

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The Social Benefits Of Music

Music is also proven to help tremendously in social situations, including work environments, friendships, and even more involved relationships. The training that the mind and body go through to develop musical comprehension is the same as the training required to develop speech and verbal skills, essential components in any relationship.

Additionally, music training develops the same muscles that will assist you in cooperation, time-management, organization, and concentration/listening skills. These are all skills that any relationship management expert will tell you are necessary for navigating healthy relationships.

Music training also strengthens a persons self-expression and helps you to break out of your inhibiting barriers . So develop your musical talents, and you will be a team leader no matter where you go!

Keep Your Brain Young With Music

If you want to firm up your body, head to the gym. If you want to exercise your brain, listen to music.

There are few things that stimulate the brain the way music does, says one Johns Hopkins otolaryngologist.;If you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool. It provides a total brain workout.

Research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory.

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Playing An Instrument For Happiness

No, that isnt sexy. Its not going to sell any online e-courses. You wont get clout and happy cant be quantified, even if you start citing neurochemicals. But happiness is . When you boil things down, most people will name be happy as a major long-term goal. Its not everything, you need meaning and drive and a mission as well, but moment-to-moment happiness really does matter for brain health.

Learning An Instrument Increases Resilience To Any Age

Transcript of "How playing an instrument benefits your ...

Brain training is big business. Companies like BrainHQ, Lumosity, and Cogmed are part of a multimillion-dollar business that is expected to surpass $3 billion by 2020. But;does what they offer actually benefit your brain?

Researchers don’t believe so. In fact, the University of Illinois determined that there’s little or no evidence that these games improve anything more than the specific tasks being trained. Lumosity’s maker was even fined $2 million for false claims.

So, if these brain games don’t work, then what will keep your brain sharp? The answer? Learning to play a musical instrument.

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How Do We Know This

Well, in the last few decades neuroscientists have made enormous breakthroughs in understanding how our brains work by monitoring them in real time with instruments.

When people are hooked up to monitoring machines, researchers have the participants listen to music, where they witnessed that the brain of each participant produced mental fireworks.

In essence, multiple areas of their brains were lighting up at once.

In actual fact, the brain was processing the sound, and taking it apart in order to understand elements like melody and rhythm, and then

Putting it all back together into a unified musical experience.

The fascinating part?

Our brains do all this work in a split second between when we first hear the music and when our foot starts to tap along.

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