Music Mind Brain Body Heart and Soul
16 Powerful Reasons to Learn Guitar Today!
X16 Powerful Reasons Why You Should Play Guitar
How does learning to play the guitar change our well-being in profound ways?
suggests that guitar players’ brains work a bit differently to everyone else. Some see this as a sly nod to the oddball genius of some of the masters. On the other hand, there is some physiological evidence here. The art of learning to play the chords
and read sheet music opens up new neural pathways. Essentially, a guitarist does rewire their brain in a positive way which leads to all kinds of cognitive benefits.
The benefits of playing guitar can be categorized into 5 distinct
- Social Benefits
- Personal Benefits
- Professional Benefits
- Mental Health Benefits
This guide to the advantages of learning to play guitar will look at the key positive points in all five of these categories. Some will be obvious, others could be very surprising.
Let's start with the social
benefits of playing guitar.
1. Social Benefits
The guitar is an instrument that brings
people together as a group and connects them through music. Socially, guitarists can enjoy the following benefits:
Raise the mood by playing the guitar in a room full of people.
Few instruments equal a guitar when it comes to uniting people. Pianos can offer a similar vibe in the right
setting, but guitars have a sense of spontaneity to them.
Bring one out at a party, and you can become the center of attention. It starts with a few absent-minded chords to add some ambiance. From there, you can be bombarded with requests
for songs and end up with a big group sing-along.
There is a catch, though. You do need to be able to play the songs!
The odd fumbled note can be endearing, but you need to be pretty competent to win people over. That
is why it is important to learn to play, not to mess around on the guitar.
Bring new people into your world by unveiling your hidden talent.
The shy, unassuming guy in the corner at a party could be a budding songwriter or a talented drummer. Your spontaneous playing may encourage him to strike up the courage to talk to you. Then there are the members
of the opposite sex. Guys have a thing for girls that can play an instrument and vice-versa.
Likewise, it never escapes the attention of band members that it is often the guitarist that gets the girls. Bass guitar just isn't sexy. Just
the image of a guy with a guitar in his hands can change a woman's first impression. However, it does help if you can back it up with the talent.
2. Personal Benefits
There are more reasons to pick up a guitar than to score with girls. The right lessons and passion can take you to a new level. You
can go from a tentative player strumming out some classics in your bedroom to a true musician creating your own riffs.
However, it’s much more than that. You will become a well-rounded person by learning to play the guitar. Here are
some of the key advantages of playing guitar for personal development.
Improve your concentration and memory by learning to read guitar tabs and creating chord shapes.
A study at the University of Zurich
concluded that the areas of the brain responsible for memory were stimulated while playing the guitar. This relates to both cognitive and muscle memory. Children with ADHD are sometimes advised to pick up an instrument to help them focus
their energy into something creative and positive. Improved drive and discipline will help you focus on this new skill and improve concentration. This hobby also helps players improve their memory.
Handle multiple tasks like a pro by improving
your guitar hand coordination, sight-reading and listening skills.
During practices, guitarists are not just developing their musicianship - they also become good multitaskers. They are be able to:
- Read guitar TABS and scores
- Create the right chord shape with their hands
- Concentrate on playing the notes accurately
- Read ahead for upcoming notes
to the sounds being made
- Keeping time
If you try to add singing into the mix, then you will have a whole another element to contend with! It may sound quite complicated when you are just starting out. But the
human brain will eventually rewire itself for the better in adapting to multi-tasking. Once you get the hang of this valuable skill, you can also apply it outside your guitar practices.
Boost your confidence and achieve a sense of fulfillment by
creating new goals, such as mastering a guitar song.
Mastering chords, perfecting songs and nailing overreaching guitar solos are few of the greatest challenges that any guitarist faces. Yet the sense of achievement gained from doing so is truly gratifying. Achievements like these
teach us that there is more to adult life than financial rewards.
Playing guitar as a hobby can give us a sense of fulfillment that may have been lost, or has not been fully explored. When you accomplish new goals to develop your guitar
skills, you will gain so much confidence in your creative side.
3. Professional Benefits
Personal and social benefits
of playing guitar can have a knock-on effect on our professional lives. This new attitude may lead to a can-do attitude on a challenging project at work. If you mastered a difficult section of a favorite song over a weekend, those spreadsheets
should be a piece of cake. The following advantages can also be gained from guitar lessons.
Improve your time management skills by setting time for guitar practices.
The act of learning to play guitar is
also helpful for teaching people how to settle to a schedule. Just 20 minutes of practice a day can lead to some significant results. If you want to learn with enough passion, then 20 minutes is nothing.
can apply this to other aspects of personal life and work to help with time management and personal discipline. 20 minutes of exercise a day? This is no problem if this is followed by a relaxing guitar session later that
Improve your math and English skills by constantly practicing guitar scales and chords.
The idea of developing math skills by playing the guitar sounds ridiculous at first. But did you know that music theory is in fact built on math with the different scales and chords? Though subtle, you might
just be improving your math while lazily strumming your guitar. As for English skills, children that learn music theory at a young age have been shown to develop a greater reading comprehension than their peers.
it doesn't seem that music theory in adult life will help with vocabulary. That is unless the lyrics sheets are particularly high-brow.
4. Mental Health & Emotional Benefits
There are great cognitive benefits here for improving focus, intelligence, and motor skills. This only scratches
the surface of the advantages that guitar playing can provide. Beyond the cognitive changes, there are the following mental health benefits.
Gain a form of stress relief by shredding and heavy strumming.
The act of guitar playing can be deeply therapeutic. A study from the
Mind-Body Wellness Center and Loma Linda University School of Medicine and Applied Biosystems found that playing an instrument has a big impact on stress levels.
It is a great form of relief for anybody struggling to release
the tension of a long day in the office. Many first time players are 40-something adults needing a release. Some people like to play a few rounds of golf, while others want to learn to unleash their inner rockstar.
Escape from anxiety
by having a guitar solo or jam session with your friends.
The guitar demands your full attention. It insists that you switch off from the outside world completely. It provides an escape for those 20-minute sessions.
means that guitar lessons could be a great option for people struggling with depression and anxiety disorders.
This is made better by the fact that it does give something back. That sense of accomplishment
from achieving those difficult lessons leads to great happiness and self-worth.
Boost your creativity skills by improvising.
More and more of us are being encouraged to bring more creativity and a work-life-balance
into our lives. For many, this means drawing painting or the ongoing craze of adult coloring-in books. Others like to bake. Then there are those that have no place setting foot near a mixing bowl or an easel. Music is a creative outlet that brings just as
much joy through the same amount of passion.
Give yourself a sense of nostalgia by playing your favourite guitar classics
We get a great feeling from putting on a record of a favorite band from our teenage years. Learning to play those Nirvana or Smiths classics just takes that to a new level with even greater rewards.
There is a deep emotional connection with music. Music can make us cry with greater ease than a sad movie. It is easy to stir up memories of lost love and lost youth. At the same time, music can also create a sense of euphoria. Finding
a song that relates to happier times, with uplifting lyrics, can instantly elevate the mood of a room.
Give hope and empowerment to others by bringing your talent to the public.
These positive emotions
are amplified when we play songs to provide those feelings for other people. This has to be the ultimate benefit of learning guitar: to make others feel something wonderful. That goal drives everyone from the busker on the street
corner to the global star trying to entertain an arena of thousands.
5. Physical Health Benefits
Playing guitar can be good for physical health, although those initial calluses and sore fingers might suggest otherwise.
Strengthen your hands and wrists by constantly practicing
chords and strumming.
With time, your hands and wrists
will become stronger and more flexible. This comes from all those chord positions and strumming. It is a constant process that builds up the muscles and stretches the tendons. This can also carry through into arm muscles and shoulders.
weight by standing and performing onstage.
There are also those that point out the benefits of learning to play guitar for calorie burning. It does help to be up performing on a stage in a hot, sweaty venue. You won't lose much by learning a song on your couch.
Lower your blood pressure by playing guitar power ballads.
Harvard Health ran a study on the effects of music on blood pressure and anxiety on patients undergoing cardiac surgery. Listening to and
playing relaxing music, like power ballads and love songs, can really help. Playing guitar in these times of anxiety can take you out of the moment to a better place & time in life.
Relieve pain by songwriting and creating your own
Research from the University of Utah’s Pain Research Center shows that the act of playing music can be so absorbing that people actually use it as a painkiller. This means that it can be
a great tool for people dealing with chronic stress and pain.
There is one final benefit to end on because it relates to all the other topics mentioned above.
As long as you play guitar, you can entertain friends and family members with songs until your fingers no longer allow you play. When that moment comes, you can simply teach everything you know to your grandchildren.
rewired guitarist’s brain will set you up for a long life of cognitive health. You just have to remember to keep up with your playing. The same goes for the effects on stress-relief and relaxation.
Guitar playing is so much more than
a hobby for those with the passion to learn and better themselves. It becomes a part of who you are and a vital link in some of the best relationships you will have.
You’ve just read our top benefits of learning guitar. Now it’s
time to hear from you.
10 Health Reasons to Start Drum Lessons Today!
10 Health Reasons to Start Drumming
The Health Benefits of Beating Your Own Drum
Not long ago I watched a video on social media showing a room full of women in a guided drumming class drumming and moving to their beats. My first thought
was “How fun! I want to do that!” I mean, who doesn’t want to feel like a rock star?
Cardio drumming classes, such as Drums Alive and Pound, have been around for a few years. But, the benefits you receive when you take this type of
class are so much greater than those of your average aerobics class. For one thing, everyone is smiling and having a ball! It doesn’t surprise me that this trend has come around now and is especially popular with women because drums
put us in synch with Mother Earth. In fact, in ancient cultures sacred drumming was performed by women.
Drums have been used in every culture for many purposes from religious rituals and other ceremonies, to sporting events, and as a way to communicate
or signal. Shamans used drumming as a means of reaching an altered or trance-like state so that they can connect with the spirit dimension. Drumming has also been used therapeutically since ancient times.
Today, in addition to being a cardio workout,
modern research shows that drumming has many positive effects on your health. The “medicine” drum is still used in many Native American ceremonies today for good reason: drumming can promote physical and emotional healing, boost your immune system,
produce feelings of well-being, and – all drummer jokes aside – it can even make you smarter!
Your Brain on Drums
Drumming is a great workout for your brain and actually can make you smarter because when you drum you
access your entire brain. Research shows that the physical transmission of rhythmic energy to the brain actually synchronizes the left and right hemispheres. So, when the logical left hemisphere and the intuitive right hemisphere of your brain begin to pulsate
together, your inner guidance system – or intuition – becomes stronger.
And listening to drum sounds regularly can have the same effect as drumming itself.
The sound of drumming generates new neuronal connections in all
parts of the brain. The more connections that can be made within the brain, the more integrated our experiences become. This leads to a deeper sense of self-awareness.
Drumming also appears to synchronize the lower areas
of the brain (non-verbal) with the frontal cortex (language and reasoning). This integration produces feelings of insight and certainty.
For these reasons therapeutic drumming may be a powerful tool in helping retrain the
brains of people who have some level of damage or impairment, such as with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), after a stroke, or where there is neurological disease such as Parkinson’s.
drumming can induce a natural “high” by increasing Alpha brain waves. When the brain changes from Beta waves (concentration) to Alpha waves, you feel calm and relaxed.
As such, Alpha waves can also produce feelings of well-being and
even euphoria, which may help people who suffer from mental illness, such as depression and anxiety.
This same Alpha activity is associated with
meditation and other integrative modes of consciousness.
10 Health Reasons to Start Drumming
Drumming can have positive effects on your health and may help with many conditions from stress,
fatigue, and anxiety, to hypertension, asthma, chronic
pain, arthritis, mental illness, addiction, and even cancer.
Here’s why drumming
is good for you:
- Makes you happy. Participate in a drum circle or take a cardio drumming class and you will see how happy it makes you. Drumming releases endorphins, enkephalins and Alpha waves in the brain, which are associated
with general feelings of well-being and euphoria.
- Induces deep relaxation. In one study, blood samples from participants who participated in an hour-long drumming session revealed a reversal
in stress hormones.
- Helps control chronic pain. Drumming can certainly serve as a distraction from pain. And, it promotes the production of endorphins and endogenous opiates, which are the body’s own
- Boosts your immune system. Studies show that drumming circles boost the immune system. Barry Bittman, MD, neurologist and President of the Yamaha
Music & Wellness Institute, has shown that group drumming actually increases natural T-cells, which help the body combat cancer as well as other viruses, including AIDS.
- Creates a sense of connectedness. Drumming
circles and group drumming classes provide an opportunity for “synchronicity” in that you connect with your own spirit at a deeper level while also connecting with other like-minded people.
- Aligns your body
and mind with the natural world. The Greek origin of the word “rhythm” is “to flow.” Drumming allows you to flow with the rhythms of life by simply feeling the beat.
- Provides a way to access
a higher power. Shamans often use drumming as a means to integrate mind, body and spirit. They focus on the whole body and then integrate the healing at both the physical and spiritual level by drumming, which connects spiritual forces.
- Releases negative feelings. The act of drumming can serve as a form of self-expression. You can literally drum out your feelings. When held, negative emotions can form energy blockages. The physical stimulation
of hitting the drums can help remove those blockages. Drumming has even been used therapeutically to help addicts deal with their emotions.
- Puts you in the present moment. While drumming you are moving your
awareness toward the flow of life. When you are flowing with the rhythm of life you cannot be caught up in your past or worrying about your future.
- Allows for personal transformation. Drumming stimulates
creative expression. When you drum in a group, you not only get to self-express, but you get feedback from the other drummers. It’s the equivalent of talk therapy! Drum circles provide a means of exploring your inner self, and expanding your consciousness
while being part of a community.
10 Reasons Making Music is Good For Our Brain
10 reasons making music is good for your brain
It doesn't matter if you've always played or you're just getting started.
Among its many benefits, music can sharpen concentration, improve hand-eye coordination and increase empathy. (Photo:
Turns out Mom and Dad were right: those piano lessons and the endless hours in school
band practice were good for you. From making you smarter, to diminishing the effects of brain aging, to improving emotional stability, it seems that playing an instrument has a hand in reconfiguring your brain and enhancing it — permanently. And to be
clear: Just listening to music doesn't cut it. It's the active work of bringing sounds to life that delivers the biggest benefit.
Researchers are still discovering all the ways that making music enriches your brain, but the impact is undeniable. So
dust off that old guitar from college. Unpack your grade-school clarinet. Join a neighborhood jam or kick back at home, just you and your favorite instrument. And by all means encourage your kids to learn to play music, too, as it will be bring all the benefits
below plus critical thinking skills.
Here are several reasons why you'll all be glad you did.
1. Enriches connections between the left and right brain
Studies show that music makers have more white matter in their corpus callosum, the bundle of neural wires connecting the brain's
two hemispheres. This means greater communication between the brain's creative right side and its analytic left side, which in turn may translate into numerous cerebral benefits, including faster communication within the brain and greater creative problem-solving
abilities. However, not all instrumentalists reap these cognitive advantages equally. Both age and amount of play time matter. Research shows that kids who practice
more seem to build a greater bridge between the two sides of the brain. Plus, those who start earlier— around age 7 is ideal — benefit more than
2. Boosts executive brain function
More white matter may be why people with musical training are also better at making decisions, processing and retaining information, and adjusting course based on changing mental demands.
That's good news for musicians because these executive brain functions likely contribute more to academic success than IQ. Some researchers even speculate that playing
an instrument could prove beneficial in helping kids with neurological problems that involve executive functioning, including ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Researchers believe music and speech share some of the same characteristics. (Photo: Eugenie Photography/Shutterstock)
3. Strengthens speech processing
It's no surprise that making music helps your brain process musical sounds. But tickling the ivories or strumming guitar strings also aids in processing consonant and vowel sounds in speech. A study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) shows that kindergartners who play piano can distinguish between different pitches and therefore are better at telling the difference between spoken words. Children in the study
who played piano were significantly better at discriminating between words that differed by only one consonant.
"There are positive benefits to piano education in young kids, and it looks like for recognizing differences between sounds including speech
sounds, it’s better than extra reading," said senior study author Robert Desimone.
A study from Northwestern University also
supports the theory that music can help young children process words. Researchers measured brain performance in low-income kids who attended the Harmony Project, an after-school music program in Los Angeles. Kids who had two years of music instruction were
able to process many more speech sounds — and with greater precision — than those who only had one year of instruction. Researchers speculate that music and speech share common characteristics — pitch, timing and timbre — and that the
brain relies on the same neural pathways to process both. Sharper language skills, including reading, may in turn help kids learn better in all subjects, from math to social studies. A case in point is Harmony Project itself: More than 90 percent of its graduates
have gone on to college since 2008, while the drop-out rate in the neighborhoods the children come from is 50 percent or higher.
4. Magnifies memory
Related to speech processing, those with musical training are also better at remembering spoken
words (verbal memory). A study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience found that second-graders in Germany who spent 45
minutes a week learning a musical instrument recalled more words recited to them than kids who received no musical training or those who spent the same amount of time in science class. Music-making also seems to boost working memory — the ability to
temporarily store and use information that helps you reason, learn or complete a complex task.
5. Promotes empathy
Musical training doesn't just upgrade your brain's sound-processing centers; it also lifts its capacity to detect emotions in
sound. That is, musicians may be better at reading subtle emotional cues in conversation. In turn, this could equip them for smoother, more emotionally rich relationships. If true, musical training also bodes well for helping kids with emotional-perception
problems, such as autism.
Playing music slows aging in your brain. (Photo: Stokkete/Shutterstock)
6. Slows brain aging
Brain gains made from playing an instrument apparently don't wane as you age either. Studies show that speech-processing and memory
benefits extend well into your golden years — even if your musical training stopped after childhood. A Canadian study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found
that older people who had musical training when they were young could identify speech 20 percent faster than those with no training. In another study published in Neuropsychology,
people aged 60 to 83 who had studied music for at least 10 years remembered more sensory information, including auditory, visual and tactile data, than those who studied for nine years or less. Both groups scored higher than people who had never learned an
7. Fosters math and science ability
Musical notes, chords, octaves, rhythm, and meter can all be understood mathematically. So playing music should raise your math game, right? The research is mixed, but there seems to be an underlying
correlation between music-making and better math skills. For instance, a study published in the Journal of Neurology Research found that preschoolers who got
keyboard lessons performed better on a test of spatial-temporal reasoning (the ability to mentally envision spatial patterns and understand how they fit together) than kids who got computer instruction or those who didn't participate in either activity. Researchers
believe that elevated spatial-temporal reasoning leads to better math and science performance.
As researchers continue digging into these connections, the link is becoming more clear. A study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology added yet another area of benefit. In a study of about 110,000 students in British Columbia, those who took at least one instrumental music course fared better on exams for not
only math and science, but also English — and it wasn't just a little bit better. Students who were highly engaged in music were, on average, academically over one year ahead of the peers not engaged in school music.
Playing music helps develop hand-eye coordination. (Photo: Monkey Business Images)
8. Improves motor skills
know that playing an instrument requires good hand-eye-ear coordination (getting hands and fingers to translate musical notes on a page into sound). And for music-makers who start young enough, those heightened musical motor skills seem to translate into other
areas of life as well. Researchers at Concordia University in Montreal found that adult musicians who started playing before age 7 had better timing on a
non-music motor-skill task than those who started music lessons later. What's more, their superior motor abilities showed up in their brains. Scans revealed stronger neural connections in motor regions that help with imagining and carrying out physical movements.
9. Elevates mental health
Studies show that fiddlers, saxophonists, keyboardists and other instrumentalists are more focused and less prone to aggression, depression and anger than non-musicians. In fact, creating music seems to prime their brains
for heightened emotional control and concentration. In one study, researchers examined brain scans of kids aged 6 to 18. Those who played an instrument had a thicker brain cortex in regions that regulate emotions, anxiety levels, and the capacity to pay attention
(meaning they had superior abilities in these areas). Other studies show that making music also relieves stress. In other words, musicians may suffer from fewer stress-related psychological and physical symptoms, including burnout, headaches, high blood pressure
and lower immune function.
10. Sharpens self-esteem
Not surprisingly, mental-health gains from musical mastery (and maybe the camaraderie of playing with others) transfers into greater feelings of self-worth. In a study published in the Psychology of Music, kids who received three years of weekly piano lessons scored higher on a measure of self-esteem than kids who received no musical instruction. Another study of Florida secondary schools suggested that at-risk kids who participated in a music-performance group at school felt less alienated and more successful.
As the research on the benefit of playing music keeps on rolling
in, perhaps we should all sit down at the piano or dig that old instrument out of the closet. Of course, if you never learned how to play, the best news is that it's never too late to start.
Editor's note: This article has been updated since it
was originally published in April 2015.
The 8 Benefits of Music for Children
The 8 Benefits of Music for Children
The 8 Benefits of Music for Children – Everyone must have listened to music, including people who do not like music though. But I’m sure the majority of people love music. Are you one of those people
who listens to music? or are you a group of people who do not like music?
Beyond whether you like or dislike music, music has many benefits for you and your family, especially for your child’s intelligence. So if you and your family are not music
lovers, then there’s nothing wrong if you start listening to music from now on.
Based on research conducted by experts from around the world, they agree that music is beneficial to children’s intelligence. If you want to improve your child’s
intelligence, listening to music is one solution you can do. But not all types of music you can use to improve your child’s intelligence. Types of music such as rock, metal or underground music are not the kind of music that is suitable for you to use
in this regard. You can use both classical and soft music to help maximize brain function and boost your child’s intelligence.
Here are Some Benefits of Music for Children
1. Increase the brain power of children
of music for children is to increase the child’s brain power. Listening to music has been shown to stimulate parts of the brain associated with reading, math and emotional development of children.
Read also : Benefits
of Music for Child Development
2. Improve memory
Listening to music helps children remember and learn more. While the participation of children in music from an early age, can improve children’s learning ability and
improve their memory.
3. Good for children’s social development
Listening to music has been shown to stimulate left-brain growth associated with language development. By listening to music the language skills of children will increase
and affect the social development of children.
4. Build confidence
Next benefits of music for children is build confidence. Listening to music was also able to increase self-confidence in children. By listening to music, the child will appear
5. Improve spatial intelligence
Listening to music is also beneficial to improve the spatial intelligence of children. Spatial intelligence is useful for problem solving such as mathematics, architecture, art, engineering.
6. Increase the child’s IQ
A study conducted by E. Glenn Schellenberg at the University of Toronto published in Psychological Science, found an increase in IQ that occurs
in children aged 6 years who take music and piano lessons.
7. Increase brain activity
Music proven to increase brain activity. Based on a study led by Ellen Winner, a professor of psychology at Boston Collage and professor of neurology at Beth
Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School found a change in brain images of children who have musical habits since the age of 15 months. In his study he explained that children who have music habits have improved fine motor skills, brain imaging
and changes in brain tissue that affect their ability development. In addition, from several neuroscience studies showing that children involved in music have a greater growth of neural activity than in people who do not learn music.
also : How To Setup Karaoke System Easily
8. Improve academic achievement
A study published by Christopher Johnson,
a professor of music education and music therapy at the University of Kansas, revealed that children who studied music since elementary school showed a 22% increase in English and 20% in mathematics.
Read also : Piano History and Its Role Today
That’s 8 benefits of music for children. Hope you do not hesitate to give music lessons
to your child.
LISTENING TO MUSIC LIGHTS UP THE WHOLE BRAIN
Aug. 18, 2013
Listening to Music Lights Up the Whole Brain
Finnish researchers have developed a groundbreaking new method that allows to study how the brain processes different aspects of music, such as rhythm, tonality and timbre (sound color) in a realistic listening situation. The study is pioneering in that it for the first time reveals how wide networks in the brain, including areas responsible for motor actions, emotions, and creativity, are activated during music listening. The new method helps us understand better the complex dynamics of brain networks and the way music affects us.
The study was published in the journal NeuroImage.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the research team, led by Dr. Vinoo Alluri from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, recorded the brain responses of individuals who were listening to a piece of modern Argentinian tango. Subsequently, using sophisticated computer algorithms, they analyzed the musical content of the tango, showing how its rhythmic, tonal and timbral components evolve over time. This was the first time such a study has been carried out using real music instead of artificially constructed music-like sound stimuli. Comparison of the brain responses and the musical features revealed many interesting things.
The researchers found that music listening recruits not only the auditory areas of the brain, but also employs large-scale neural networks. For instance, they discovered that the processing of musical pulse recruits motor areas in the brain, supporting the idea that music and movement are closely intertwined. Limbic areas of the brain, known to be associated with emotions, were found to be involved in rhythm and tonality processing. Processing of timbre was associated with activations in the so-called default mode network, which is assumed to be associated with mind-wandering and creativity.
"Our results show for the first time how different musical features activate emotional, motor and creative areas of the brain," says Prof. Petri Toiviainen from the University of Jyväskylä. "We believe that our method provides more reliable knowledge about music processing in the brain than the more conventional methods."
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The above story is based on materials provided by Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland), via AlphaGalileo
Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland) (2011, December 6). Listening to music lights up the whole brain.
Mind & Brain
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Kids' Music Lessons Have Lasting Brain Benefits
Learning how to play an instrument as a child can boost cognition later in life, even if you don't continue playing as an adult.
Even if you stopped going to piano lessons after middle school and no longer remember how to play Für Elise, your brain might be reaping the benefits of that early instruction. New research suggests just a few years of musical training in childhood could improve how the brain processes sound in adulthood, leading to better listening and learning skills.
The Northwestern University study, published today (Aug. 22) in the journal Neuroscience, focused on what happens after a person puts down an instrument following just a few years of training, a common childhood experience. The study was small but builds on previous research that found older adults with musical experience perform better on some cognitive tests than those who had never studied music.
Forty-five young adults participated in the experiment and were separated into three groups: no musical instruction, one to 5 years of instruction and six to 11 years of training. (Both musically trained groups started learning an instrument at about age 9.) The researchers measured the subjects' electrical signals from the auditory brainstem as they listened to different sounds. Both musically trained groups had enhanced neural responses to complex sounds compared with their peers with no musical training as kids, according to a statement from Northwestern.
"Based on what we already know about the ways that music helps shape the brain, the study suggests that short-term music lessons may enhance lifelong listening and learning," study researcher Nina Kraus, director of Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, said in the statement.
Previous research on musicians showed that enhanced brain responses to sound are associated with sharpened auditory perception and auditory communication skills.
"From this earlier research, we infer that a few years of music lessons also confer advantages in how one perceives and attends to sounds in everyday communication situations, such as noisy restaurants or rides on the 'L,'" Kraus said, referring to Chicago's public transit system.
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PIANO FOR BODY, MIND AND SOUL
Aug. 18, 2013
Piano for Body, Mind and Soul
There has always been a recognized trinity between the mind, the body, and the therapeutic qualities of music. And the piano, specifically, has been a long-recognized source of remedy for those seeking escape and creative expression. But recent years have also offered a wealth of scientific studies that demonstrate our instincts have always been correct: playing the piano offers proven benefits—from physical and intellectual to social and emotional—to people of all ages.
Let’s Get Physical
Playing piano can have very tangible physical benefits.Who knew? Those piano lessons we took when we were young offered specific physical benefits to our developing bodies. And piano lessons and practice can also, it turns out, improve the physical health of adults and the elderly. Dr. Arthur Harvey, retired professor at University of Hawaii at Manoa, published a study through the American Music Conference that details the vast physiologic benefits generated by regular musical practice. One obvious boon of regular piano playing, Harvey found, is the sharpening of fine motor skills in children. But playing music, according to Harvey’s research, also “activates the cerebellum and therefore may aid stroke victims in regaining language capabilities.” Additional research revealed that group keyboard lessons given to older Americans had a significant effect on increasing levels of human growth hormone (HGH), which is implicated in slowing such aging phenomena as osteoporosis, energy levels, wrinkling, sexual function, muscle mass, and aches and pains.
The physical benefits of piano playing are even more far reaching. Mitchell Gaynor M.D., in his book Sounds of Healing, demonstrates that music has therapeutic physical effects including reduced anxiety, heart and respiratory rates; reduced cardiac complications; lowered blood pressure; and increased immune responses.
Keys to Better Thinking
In addition to the proven body benefits of regular play, piano practice can also boost cognitive and intellectual abilities. Playing piano, in other words, makes us smarter. Research through the years has demonstrated that musical training taps into similar areas of brain function as those used in spatial intelligence and even math. In fact, kids who continue their playing through their teenage years average about 100 points higher on the SAT. In 1994, research revealed, undergraduates who majored in music had the highest acceptance rate into medical school, at 66%.
In a study conducted by E. Glenn Schellenberg of the University of Toronto at Mississauga in 2011, researchers split 132 first-graders into four separate groups for after-school activities. One group was given singing lessons, one was given drama lessons, another piano lessons, and the last was offered no after-school instruction. All of the students’ IQ’s were evaluated at the end of the year. Those who participated in the piano lessons saw an IQ increase of 7 points, while the other groups saw an increase of 4.25 at most. The researchers concluded that the fact that piano education requires one to be focused for long periods of times contributes to the greater IQ gains in the piano-playing group.
Striking a Contented Chord
As if the physical and cognitive benefits of regular piano playing were not enough, studies also show that time at the keyboard offers emotional advantages, as well. In fact, research reveals that those who are involved in creating music on a regular basis experience less anxiety, loneliness and depression.
Barry Bittman, MD, of the Body-Mind Wellness Center in Meadville, Pennsylvania, created a study to gauge stress levels among 32 volunteers. The volunteers were put through a stress-inducing activity—attempting to assemble a difficult puzzle while incentivized by a monetary prize—and then were told to “relax” afterward using a variety of different methods, including reading magazines and playing keyboards. The volunteers also gave blood during the study, and the blood was tested for the activity of 45 stress-related genes. In the group that played keyboard to relax, the results showed a significantly higher reversal in the markers for stress-related genes than in the other groups.
“With ongoing research,” Bittman concludes, “recreational music-making could potentially serve as a rational stress-reduction activity, along with other lifestyle strategies that include healthy nutrition and exercise.”
Add to this data the other benefits that come from piano playing—increases in work ethic, diligence, creativity, self-reliance and perseverance—and the result is a veritable symphony of good news for your body and your soul. Ready to tickle the ivories?
PLAYING A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MAKES YOU SMARTER
Aug. 18, 2013
Playing a musical instrument makes you brainier
Playing a musical instrument makes you smarter, it has been claimed.
New research suggests that regularly playing an instrument changes the shape and power of the brain and may be used in therapy to improve cognitive skills.
It can even increase IQ by seven points in both children and adults, according to researchers.
Experts said there is growing evidence that musicians have structurally and functionally different brains compared with non-musicians - in particular, the areas of the brain used in processing and playing music.
These parts of the brain that control motor skills, hearing, storing audio information and memory become larger and more active when a person learns how to play an instrument and can apparently improve day to day actions such as being alert, planning and emotional perception.
Lutz Jäncke, a psychologist at the University of Zurich, said: "Learning to play a musical instrument has definite benefits and can increase IQ by seven points, in both children and adults.
"We found that even in people over the age of 65 after four or five months of playing a instrument for an hour a week there were strong changes in the brain.
"The parts of the brain that control hearing, memory, and the part that controls the hands among others, all become more active. Essentially the architecture of the brain changes.
"For children especially we found that learning to play the piano for instance teaches them to be more self-disciplined, more attentive and better at planning. All of these things are very important for academic performance, so can therefore make a child brighter.
"Of course music isn't the only answer, but I do believe that it should be used in addition to other things."
Mr Jäncke also said that music can also make it easier to learn foreign languages and become more perceptive in interpreting the emotions of others.
He added: "When you play a musical instrument you have to learn about tone and about scores and your ability to store audio information becomes better.
"So not only does this make it easier to pick up other languages and have a better verbal memory in your own language, we have also seen that musicians are able to pick out exactly what others are feeling just on the tone of their voices. Empathy, disappointment, that kind of thing.
"If music has such a strong influence on brain plasticity this raises the question of whether this effect can be used to enhance cognitive performance.
"Several studies indeed show that musical practice increases memory and language skills, and I suggest expanding this field.
"Hopefully, the current trend in the use of musicians as a model for brain plasticity will continue ... and extend to the field of neuropsychological rehabilitation."
MUSIC LESSONS BOOST BRAIN DEVELOPMENT
Aug. 18, 2013
Music Lessons Boost Brain Development
Montreal researchers find that music lessons before age seven create stronger connections in the brain.
If you started piano lessons in grade one, or played the recorder in kindergarten, thank your parents and teachers. Those lessons you dreaded, or loved, helped develop your brain. The younger you started music lessons, the stronger the connections in your brain.
A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that musical training before the age of seven has a significant effect on the development of the brain, showing that those who began early had stronger connections between motor regions, the parts of the brain that help you plan and carry out movements.
This research was carried out by students in the laboratory of Concordia University psychology professor Virginia Penhune, and in collaboration with Robert J. Zatorre, a researcher at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital at McGill University.
The image shows 11 year old pianist, Danny Barenboim playing at a concert in 1956.
Study suggests early musical training has a significant impact on brain development. Image credited to Eldan David.
The study provides strong evidence that the years between ages six and eight are a “sensitive period” when musical training interacts with normal brain development to produce long-lasting changes in motor abilities and brain structure. “Learning to play an instrument requires coordination between hands and with visual or auditory stimuli,” says Penhune. “Practicing an instrument before age seven likely boosts the normal maturation of connections between motor and sensory regions of the brain, creating a framework upon which ongoing training can build.”
With the help of study co-authors, PhD candidates Christopher J. Steele and Jennifer A. Bailey, Penhune and Zatorre tested 36 adult musicians on a movement task, and scanned their brains. Half of these musicians began musical training before age seven, while the other half began at a later age, but the two groups had the same number of years of musical training and experience. These two groups were also compared with individuals who had received little or no formal musical training.
When comparing a motor skill between the two groups, musicians who began before age seven showed more accurate timing, even after two days of practice. When comparing brain structure, musicians who started early showed enhanced white matter in the corpus callosum, a bundle of nerve fibres that connects the left and right motor regions of the brain. Importantly, the researchers found that the younger a musician started, the greater the connectivity.
Interestingly, the brain scans showed no difference between the non-musicians and the musicians who began their training later in life; this suggests that the brain developments under consideration happen early or not at all. Because the study tested musicians on a non-musical motor skill task, it also suggests that the benefits of early music training extend beyond the ability to play an instrument.
“This study is significant in showing that training is more effective at early ages because certain aspects of brain anatomy are more sensitive to changes at those time points,” says co-author, Dr. Zatorre, who is also the co-director of the International Laboratory for Brain Music and Sound Research.
But, says Penhune, who is also a member of the Centre for Research in Human Development, “it’s important to remember that what we are showing is that early starters have some specific skills and differences in the brain that go along with that. But, these things don’t necessarily make them better musicians. Musical performance is about skill, but it is also about communication, enthusiasm, style, and many other things that we don’t measure.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF LISTENING TO PIANO MUSIC
Aug. 18, 2013
Health Benefits of listening to Instrumental Piano Music
It’s obvious that music is used for promoting relaxation and relieving anxiety and stress. But did you know that there is new clinical research posted now that instrumental piano music is beneficial in treating patients with depression, Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. Peaceful instrumental music also improves the physical and mental functioning. Music Therapists are using music as part of their treatments for the mentally and physically sick. Peaceful piano music nowcrosses the boundaries of hospitals and research facilities.
Here are just a few of the benefits of listening to peaceful instrumental piano music:
It helps patients suffering from disabilities such as:
- mental health needs
- developmental disabilities
- learning disabilities
- Alzheimer’s disease
- aging related conditions
- substance abuse
- physical disabilities
- Acute and chronic pain
It relieves job-related stress, strain and fatigue at your work place.
It helps relieve anxiety.
It helps women to remain calm during their pregnancy and prevent the passing of stress to their babies.
It reduces the chances of getting Hypertension.
It helps to enhance learning, improve social skills.
It helps improve emotional well-being in children and adults.
It also helps in recovering from brain injury.