Once again it has been scientifically proven that STUDYING THE PIANO BENEFITS THE BRAIN!
At the 22nd meeting of the European Neurological Society from June 9-12 2012, doctors presented the results of the latest two studies linking improved brain functioning with piano lessons. You can read the article below:
Studies by the University Hospital San Raffaele (Milan, Italy) demonstrated that test persons with no musical background were not only visibly more dexterous after two weeks of piano lessons, but their brains also changed measurably. It’s not surprising that the participants achieved a dramatic increase in their small motor skills, I’ve seen that in my students hundreds of times. But what did surprise me was that after just 10 days of 35-minute practice in a two week period, participants experienced significant improvements in brain functioning.
Dr. Elise Houdayer from the University Hospital San Raffaele in Milan delalred:’Ten days…can…trigger changes in cortical plasticity similar to results reported for professional musicians.’ The participants experienced not only dramatically more agility in their fingers, but also substantial increases in the volume of GRAY MATTER in their brains.
What is GRAY MATTER?
Gray (or grey) matter is a type of neural tissue which is primarily found in the brain and spinal cord. Neurologists associate gray matter with intelligence, intellect and coordination.
Significant positive correlations have been found between gray matter volume in elderly persons and measures of semantic and short term memory…. These results suggest that individual variability in specific cognitive functions that are relatively well preserved with aging is accounted for by the variability of gray matter volume in elderly subjects. The doctors also hastened to add that the more complicated the task, the denser and better the structure of the gray matter.
So what can we conclude from this other than what we already know, that piano lessons are an incredible brain workout? I hope you’ll feel encouraged when you’re working on a piece you’re afraid you’ll never master, or battling with a finger position that feels complicated. I hope you’ll say to yourself, “This is great! Playing difficult passages is the best way to keep my brain healthy. If it were easy, I wouldn’t be getting the greatest cognitive benefits. I’ll just keep working on it, and as before, it will come eventually.”
I salute your courage and fortitude! And I hope that in spite of the difficulties, you manage to sit back and enjoy the music you are making. I hope you’ll even think, “This is fun!”