Learning a musical instrument is good for brain development

Learning a musical instrument helps people develop their brain functions and starting early is a good thing. It’s like learning a new language or a code so you have to abandon what you think you already know and open your mind to new possibilities. A line and a dot in a different place represent different notes and yet there is a commonality amongst instruments that allow them to be played together.

When music is played or sung well, it can stir strong emotions in people. But just the act of playing an instrument has many health benefits.

  1. Memory – to learn what music notes represent or where to put your fingers in a guitar chord structure. But more than that, it’s remembering each week so accessing longer term memories and building up those neurological pathways.
  2. Determination – playing any instrument will require practice and won’t come easy, sometimes it will seem impossible! But that’s when you need to persevere and consider what your goal is and work out a plan of how you can overcome the difficulty. Regular practice will make it seem a bit easier every week.
  3. Hand-eye co-ordination – whether it be fingers on a piano key or on a guitar fretboard, getting your fingers to move where you want them to takes practice and dexterity. You have to be able to look at a page or sheet music and interpret what is written to translate to your fingers.
    But more than that, you have to keep following the music and be prepared for the upcoming chord changes.
  4. Boosts listening skills and personal judgement – you have to ensure your instrument is tuned and determine if the pitch is correct, especially with stringed instruments. You have to listen to yourself as you play a piece and hear if it is played accurately and adjust so that you perform it correctly next time you practice.
  5. Discipline – to follow the rules of the music, particularly keeping time. Even in jazz or improvised works, you still need to know the key of the song to stay within the boundaries of the key.
  6. Teamwork – to play with friends or schoolmates you must agree on a starting point, a tempo and a key and listen to each other to ensure you’re together. If someone is playing the tune then you need to modify your volume to support them rather than overpower the melody.
  7. Sence of achievement and increased confidence – when you play a piece from start to finish with the correct notes for the first time, you can be euphoric, particularly if it’s been a challenge to get to that point.
  8. Reduces stress – to play music successfully, you can’t be thinking about the rotten day you’ve had. You have to switch off from other things and commit wholeheartedly to your instrument – it’s complicated enough without carrying that baggage with you as well! As you switch your mind off, you give your brain the chance to release endorphins which will make you feel great. There is nothing better for me than singing along to a guitar accompanying yourself to your favourite song.

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