There is new scientific evidence that shows (once again) that playing a musical instrument is great for your brain. There have been so many studies showing that music lessons benefit the brain that we’ve got to believe it!
This latest study was conducted at The University of St. Andrews in Scotland:
The team said their results indicated musical activity could be used to slow, stop or even reverse age and illness-related decline in mental functioning.
The study compared non-professional musicians with a control group of non-musicians, and found that the musicians were better to recognize and correct errors, and their brains functioned better overall. You can read the BBC report here:
Psychologist Dr Ines Jentzsch, who led the research, said: ‘Our study shows that even moderate levels of musical activity can benefit brain functioning.’
Of course we are not surprised, as we have heard similar reports from many studies all touting the benefits of music study on cognitive function, but every time another study validates it, I want to dance a little jig!
So congratulations! You are doing something that is not only fun and relaxing, but also a great workout for your brain. Now all you have to do is balance it with some physical exercise, and you will be in great shape.
Some of you will be leaving town during our PLEDGE TO PLAY: 10 MInutes A Day. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t do your 10 minutes each day! Researchers at Harvard demonstrated that even just imagining playing the piano activates the same part of the brain as when you actually play!
One group of volunteers played a 5-finger exercise over the course of a week, while the other group merely imagined moving their fingers to play the same exercise. Though the group that actually played the piano had a greater brain benefit, by the end of the week, the same part of the brain in both groups had been significantly impacted.
Remember Professor Harold Hill taught music by “the think system” in the musical, The Music Man? Maybe he was onto something!
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!”