Thinking about you or a loved one learning an instrument? There are many obvious reasons why picking up that guitar or laying down rhythms on the drums can be largely beneficial for people – learning a new skill, producing time management, and developing team work characteristics to name a few!
But what if there were other perks that weren’t so obvious? Is it possible that learning an instrument can actually help with physical fitness, mental illnesses, school grades, stress, brain function and more? We’ll take a quick look at nine different lesser-known benefits of learning a musical instrument.
1. Cognitive/non-cognitive tasks
Yes, really! Sustained attention, logic and reasoning, long-term/short-term memory, auditory and visual processing, etc. Those with musical training have been shown in studies to perform better in cognitive/non-cognitive tasks than their non-musical counterparts – up to twice the task improvement that sports, theater or dance provided.
2. Academic success/mathematical abilities
Dr. James Catterall studied 25,000 students ranging from 8th to 10th grade, and found that “… students who studied music and the arts had higher grades, scored better on standardized tests, had better attendance records and were more active in community affairs than other students.” Musical theory involves many mathematical aspects. Other results show that playing an instrument can help your IQ increase by seven points.
3. Boosts memory
Forgetful? Grab a guitar! Music and memory go hand-in-hand. Using both parts of your brain, music stimulates different patterns of brain development – helping to keep your mind alert and stay active. We’re talking actual physical developments in your noggin!
Learning a new skill can help adults and children who struggle with confidence, and music is no exception! Music teacher/performer Elizabeth Dotson-Westphalen discovered that music helped boost many of her student’s confidence levels. “They find that once they can develop a skill by themselves that they can get better and better.”
The parts of the brain that control motor skills actually grow and become more active when you learn how to play an instrument. Reading music on a page, getting your fingers to go where they need to go, developing muscle memory – your brain must convert musical theory into specific motor patterns, simultaneously dealing with breathing and rhythm patterns. So yes, singing can help your hand-eye coordination!
6. Physical benefits/Mental disease treatment
Thanks to the calming effects on the mind and body, playing music acts as a form of therapy. More specifically, music therapy has been found to fight dementia and depression according to a study by researchers at the University of St. Andrews. Other studies suggest that music therapy will help combat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD,) insomnia, and reduce blood pressure – along with being a great workout! 90 minutes of drumming burns as many as 500 calories!
It’s been shown that playing an instrument helps lower your heart rate and blood pressure, lowering cortisol – a stress hormone. Michael Jolkovski, a psychologist who specializes in musicians, feels that music also helps in bringing down stress by helping people connect with others. "It (music) can satisfy the need to unwind from the worries of life, but unlike the other things people often use for this purpose, such as excessive eating, drinking, or TV or aimless web browsing, it makes people more alive and connected with one another."
8. Brain benefits for 60+
Seventy adults between the ages of 60-83 were studied by Brenna Hanna-Pladdy of Emory University, and some interesting results were found. Those who played an instrument at the highest level got significantly higher scores compared to those that didn’t play music when put to tasks testing the brain’s ability to adapt to new information. As mentioned in point #6, music therapy is often used against Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
9. Lasting effects
In 2012 a study was posted in the Journal of Neuroscience that the benefits from musical training last long past the time directly training. As a child, just learning an instrument has far-reaching advances as they age – including the resistance to cognitive decline in point #1.
Learning an instrument is enjoyable and entertaining, no doubt! Being able to sit behind a piano at church or school, or picking up a guitar around a campfire can be a great joy; but these 9 extra perks can be huge in the course of someone’s life. Verse One Music Lessons LLC is looking forward to helping all that we can as you explore music.
We offer a free trial lesson for you to see if we’re right for each other! Our students are like family. Feel free to send us a message, call or text with any questions you may have, we’re always available and happy to help!
Wishing you the best,
Owner, Verse One Music Lessons LLC