Encouraging young ones to take instrumental or vocal lessons not only will help them foster a love and appreciation of music, studies prove the benefits gained through music education will last throughout an individual’s lifetime. If you’re a musician yourself, you likely can vouch for how music has helped shaped your life, and the measured benefits of playing music that you’ve enjoyed when performing and when pursuing other interests.
That’s because learning to play music may actually re-wire your brain, bringing about a wide array of beneficial traits that extend beyond the music room. The varied skill sets we develop while learning to read, play and perform have helped bring about some of history’s greatest artists and thinkers. Did you know Thomas Edison played piano? Albert Einstein also was a pianist, as well as a violinist. Benjamin Franklin played a variety of instruments, including guitar and violin. Take a look at some benefits of playing music that have been scientifically documented, and share your thoughts and observations in the comments below!
Music helps our memory.
There have been numerous studies suggesting that musicians are more capable of remembering words when compared to non-musicians. Researchers have hypothesized that the act of rehearsing music can help students with preparing for other tasks, such as memorizing information for a test. Additionally, when learning to read music, you activate both the visual and memory areas of the brain simultaneously, training the two to work in conjunction with one another.
Musicians are ready for math.
Without math, music wouldn’t exist. Every musician learns basic theory including time, rhythm, meter and notation, which translates to an understanding of fractions, decimals and percentages. Plus, the fixed intervals and repeating structures in music help prep a developing brain to understand complex mathematical theories later on!
We have great hand-eye coordination.
Observing a child hold his or her instrument or play piano with both hands for the first time always reminds us of how quickly coordination develops, especially in kids. Hand, finger and wrist control improve after just a few lessons, and when a student progresses to sight reading those skills become essential.
Musicians can hear better.
Studies have found that musicians actually may hear better than non-musicians, even though there is no difference in ear sensitivity. Researchers think this could be an effect of listening to the sound of your own instrument amongst others when playing in groups.
We’re staying sharp!
Along the sames lines as memory, learning to play music can keep your brain healthy longer. “Lifelong musical training appears to confer advantages in at least two important functions known to decline with age—memory and the ability to hear speech in noise,” said auditory neuroscience researcher Nina Kraus in a journal article.
We’re better at focusing and relaxing.
Anyone’s who’s played through the complete “Goldberg Variations” can vouch for the harrowing concentration of a musician. No matter the piece, music requires us to focus on rhythm, pitch, tone, key… all at the same time. The ability to use multiple areas of the brain at once helps us focus on any task-at-hand, be it studying for a test, finishing a complicated work project or painting a masterpiece. Plus, after finishing an especially difficult arrangement, we feel a great sense of accomplishment which provides a well-deserved boost in self-esteem!
Likewise, researchers have observed that playing music recreationally can switch off the receptors in our brain that cause us to feel stress.
Band, orchestra and choir are like automatic friend-makers. Participating in musical groups builds confidence, provides a sense of belonging, and teaches us team work, cooperation and mutual support.
Now it’s your turn! Do you have a specific example of how your musical background has helped outside of the music room? Are there any benefits of playing music that you’d add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.