Benefits of Learning to Play an Instrument

Playing an instrument is a great way to learn about  problem solving, abstract reasoning, visualization, and spatial relationships. Scientists have proven that musicians actually have significant growth in the primary motor cortex, the cerebellum and corpus callosum. Pre-schoolers given keyboard instruction showed an almost 50% increase in their spatial temporal reasoning skills. Kids that take music lessons find it easier learn fractions because they understand time signatures. A study shows secondary students who participated in band or orchestra reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (Texas Commision on Drug and Alcohol Abuse).   Students changing schools  frequently,  find music lessons are a source of  stability.

Pitch perception is a communication skill, just like learning a language, your abilities peak out around the age 9 or 10.  Even people with perfect pitch lose it by the age of 10 if they don’t use the letter names of notes(A,B,C or Do, Re, Mi). One study showed only 7% of American music students had perfect pitch, compared to over 30% of Asian music students surveyed.

Playing an instrument also has incredible stress reduction benefits. There is practically no activity in the frontal cortex of a musician playing a piece from memory! It’s almost like meditating. Pieces of music that are slower than the human heartbeat (approx 78 BPM) will actually cause your heart-rate to drop. In short, almost nothing effects as  many parts of the brain, as music.  Einstein said “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I get most joy in life out of music”

Here’s some articles on the subject Music Lessons Improve Kids Brain Developement

12 Benefits of Music Education

Music lessons may open the mind to math and science

Kindermusik

Working.com

http://coalitionformusiced.ca/html/sec5-research/quickfacts.php

and this is from Wikipedia:

Extra-musical benefits

Some studies suggests that music lessons provide children with important developmental benefits beyond simply the knowledge or skill of playing a musical instrument. Research suggests that musical lessons may enhance intelligence and academic achievement, build self-esteem and improve discipline. A recent Rockefeller Foundation Study found that music majors have the highest rate of admittance to medical schools, followed by biochemistry and the humanities. On SAT tests, the national average scores were 427 on the verbal and 476 on math. At the same time, music students averaged 465 on the verbal and 497 on the math – 38 and 21 points higher, respectively. However, the observed correlation between musical and mathematical ability may be inherent rather than acquired.

Skills learned through the discipline of music may transfer to study skills, communication skills, and cognitive skills useful in every part of a child’s studies at school, though. An in-depth Harvard University study found evidence that spatial-temporal reasoning improves when children learn to make music, and this kind of reasoning improves temporarily when adults listen to certain kinds of music, including Mozart (Rauscher, Shaw & Ky, 1993). This finding which has been named “The Mozart effect” suggests that music and spatial reasoning are related psychologically (i.e., they may rely on some of the same underlying skills) and perhaps neurologically as well. However, there has been considerable controversy over this as later researchers have failed to reproduce the original findings of Rauscher (e.g. Steele, Bass & Crook, 1999), questioned both theory and methodology of the original study (Fudis & Lembesis 2004) and suggested that the enhancing effects of music in experiments have been simply due to an increased level of arousal (Thompson, Schellenberg & Husain, 2001).

A relationship between music and the strengthening of math, dance, reading, creative thinking and visual arts skills has also been reported in literature. (Winner, Hetland, Sanni, as reported in The Arts and Academic Achievement – What the Evidence Shows, 2000) However recent findings by Dr. Levitin of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, undermines the suggested connection between musical ability and higher math skills. In a study conducted on patients with Williams Syndrome (a genetic disorder causing low intelligence), he found that even though their intelligence was that of young children they still possessed unusually high level of musical ability.

http://web.sfn.org/index.aspx?pagename=nq_10spring_inside_science

http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/content/full/23/27/9240

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/6447588/Playing-a-musical-instrument-makes-you-brainier.html

Learning Music as an adult- advantages

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-musical-self/201008/is-music-training-only-our-children

Music Benefits the Brain

http://www.ktradionetwork.com/health/music-benefits-the-brain/

http://www.isacs.org/misc_files/Brain%20Article.pdf

http://sciencenetlinks.com/science-news/science-updates/perfect-pitch/

http://www.pnas.org/content/104/37/14795.long

8 comments

  1. This area of study fascinates me. For me, playing an instrument has incredible stress reduction benefits. Working in a piano academy, I have found that , not only do piano students learn to think creatively and to solve problems but performance teaches people to conquer fear and to take risks. A little anxiety is a good thing and something that will occur often in life. The benefits of learning an instrument are endless!

  2. Music is the universal language. Children who learn to play an instrument are typically the most successful kids in school. I was a band director and music teacher for 34 years and never ceased to be amazed at what a difference playing in the band made in the lives of my students. They still thank me when they see me out in public because they went on and used their skills and talents as adults. Teaching music to kids is very rewarding..

  3. It’s especially interesting to hear of the further research and findings of the Mozart Effect. I have been fortunate to have established many, if not most of my longest-standing friendships, through the mutual interests and attraction to music. Playing music has given me the ability to relate to most people in a very unique way. Some people are not so different from a flat or a sharp note! The really balanced people are (IMHO) fortunate to always be “in tune” with what’s going on around them. There’s no question for me, that music appreciation is a huge plus for almost anyone.

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