- Itaatherine Loveday of the University of Westminster. “It stimulates the brain in a very powerful way.” Playing an instrument is a rich and complex experience. This is because it’s brings together information from the senses of vision, hearing, and touch, along with fine motor movements. Brain scans have been able to identify the difference in brain structure between musicians and non-musicians. “Music reaches parts of the brain that other things can’t,” says Loveday. “It’s a strong cognitive stimulus that grows the brain in a way that nothing else does, and the evidence that musical training enhances things like working memory and language is very robust.”
- Strengthens memory and reading skills. The Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University states this is because music and reading are related via common neural and cognitive mechanisms.
- Playing music makes you happy. McMaster University discovered that babies who took interactive music classes displayed better early communication skills. They also smiled more and grew better at working with others.
- Music increases blood flow in your brain. Studies have found that short bursts of musical training increase the blood flow to the left hemisphere of the brain. Increased blood flow increases memory, cognitive ability and information accessibility. That can be helpful when you need a burst of energy or right before you study for, or even take, a test! Skip the energy drink and practice for 30 minutes.
- Musical training strengthens the brain’s executive function in every age group. Executive function covers critical tasks like processing and retaining information, controlling behavior, making decisions, and problem solving.
Bonus benefit: Music reduces stress and depression. A study of patients found that listening to and playing music reduced anxiety. Another study revealed that music therapy lowered levels of depression and anxiety. We all know how this works!