We know that learning music is good for the brain. Learning a musical instrument is even better. We’ve covered these points many times in previous articles:
- 18 Reasons Why Your Child Should Learn to Play the Piano
- Why You Should Send Your Child for Music Lessons
- The Benefits of Learning a Musical Instrument
Learning a Musical Instrument Enhances Our Brains
Now scientists are using brain scans to help us to understand the ways that learning a musical instrument benefits our brains:
Key points from the video:
- Listening to music is good, but playing an instrument is better. When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. When you play an instrument, it is like a full-body brain workout.
- Playing a musical instrument, it engages almost every area of the brain simultaneously, especially visual, auditory and motor areas.
- When we play music, it combines linguistic and mathematical precision (left brain) with novel and creative content (right brain).
- Playing a musical instrument increases the volume and activity in the corpus callosum (the bridge between the two halves of the brain) allowing for more rapid communication between the two hemispheres.
- This training of the brain may allow musicians to be more effective and creative in solving problems academically and socially.
- Musicians have higher levels of executive function (important for planning, strategising, and providing attention to detail)
- Playing music enhances memory functions – making them more rapid and efficient.
Different Musical Instruments Offer Unique Brain Benefits
“A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.” – Leopold Stokowski.
According to Mic Com, study an instrument for long enough and it changes your brain in ways that make it unique from everyone elses’. Here it is in a nutshell, but I recommend clicking the links and reading the articles in their entirety…
What Playing the Piano Does to Your Brain
- Playing the piano overcomes “handedness”. Most people are either right-handed or left-handed and it shows up on your brain. The brains of Piano players show a more symmetrical brain anatomy because piano playing strengthens the weaker hand. – Journal of Anatomy, 2006
- Pianists that improvise a lot – like Jazz pianists – have better connections in their brains making them more efficient decision makers and also more capable of spontaneous creativity – The Guardian
- Pianists brains require less energy to concentrate so they can focus on other aspects of their music playing – Neuroscience Letter, 1999
Watch Henri Herbert and get blown away…
What Playing the Guitar Does to Your Brain
- Like pianists, guitarists are able to shift their unconscious creative thinking mode more easily. This reconfirms that creativity can be trained and that it takes a lot of effort and hard work before it can appear effortless. – The Neuroscience of Improvisation
- Guitarists brains are more in synch with each other, especially when they play together (Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2012) – I wonder if this can be translated to show that guitarists are also more intuitive in general?
- Guitarists learn better by watching others play rather than from sheet music (Vanderbilt University) – I wonder how this affects their observation skills?
Check out this awesome guitar duet.
What Playing the Drums Does to Your Brain
- There appears to be a link between intelligence and rhythmic ability – The Telegraph
- Playing the drums can increase pain tolerance – Evolutionary Pscyhology, 2012
- Rhythmic music may also have therapeutic neurological benefits – Standford News
If you’re feeling inspired, here are some easy ways to introduce your child to music:
- Piano Maestro – fun and simple app for introducing children to the piano.
- Easy Singing Lessons – the voice is one of the easiest instruments to introduce to your child.
- BrillKids Little Musician – for introducing young children to a world of music.