Although we’re sure every musician finds enough pleasure in playing as a means in itself, there are some recently scientifically verifiable benefits that playing music has on the brain. The joy of playing is unique, in that it can bring as much pleasure to the player as it does the listener – here are some ways in which music can affect the brain of player and listener alike which will hopefully give you a heightened appreciation of how music profoundly affects both our lives and the lives of those around us.
Increases Memory Capacity
Both listening to and playing music can stimulate areas of the brain associated with memory – think about every time you hear a piece of music you haven’t heard in a while and how feelings and memories of a specific moment in time flood back to you. A study was done in which 22 children from 3 – 4 years old were given either singing or keyboard lessons – a control group of 15 were given no music lessons at all. Both groups participated in preschool sessions and activities – the results came through and showed that those who received music lessons had improved spatial-temporal skills by up to 34% when compared to those who didn’t. The results were also shown to be long-term
Boosts Awareness of Others
Playing an instrument often means you end up playing in groups with other musicians – this gives the brain a greater appreciation of working closely with others. Being in time, in pitch and working as a team is important to yielding the right sound. It also means listening closely to others which boosts a sense of empathy.
Improves Motor Skills
Playing any instrument requires a harmony between reading notes, hearing them being played to ascertain whether they’re sounding correct and moving the fingers to the correct position in quick succession. This takes a great deal of concentration, but once mastered this process begins to feel natural. This is the state which musicians can reach, where playing, reading and hearing – reacting to the music in real time – can achieve. And it does wonders for the mind.
Helps Achieve A Sense of Inner Peace
When your brain connects the senses together and you feel truly in the moment, this Zen-like moment is almost meditative in nature and you feel totally at peace. Worries and anxieties about things outside of the present moment drift away as the relaxed form of focus takes hold.
Teaches You Patience & Discipline
Learning an instrument is not an easy task to undertake – and we all know music theory is hardly a walk in the park either. Both take a lot of time and patience. Training the brain to understand this at an early age specifically is a great thing to understand – immediate gratification isn’t always the best route to take!
Heightens Sense Of Self-Expression
Music is all about expressing the inexpressible – “Where words fail, music speaks” is somewhat of a hackneyed expression, but it still holds some value. The great thing about musicianship is that more accomplished you become, the easier it becomes to express yourself through your instrument – you can play what you want and eventually you develop your own style of playing which is hugely liberating. This is a great way of relieving stress also, getting the anxiety out in ways you’d struggle to if you just sat talking to someone about it.
Helps With Self-Worth
Achievement is something which is increasingly a vacuous pursuit in an age of social media ‘Likes’ and shares – it becomes difficult in an age of self-congratulation to have a tangible sense of real achievement. Music enables this through rigorous practice and hard work, you can hit your targets – and it’s all down to you! True self-worth affirmation.
It Teaches Discipline
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. No one is a super talent at playing music straight away, it takes a decent amount of toil for everyone to achieve anything close to brilliance. In that sense music is also a great leveller – everyone is pretty much equal when they start out – it’s only those that persevere that succeed!
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