5 Ways Music Makes You Smarter

Did you know that playing an instrument can help your brain work better? Let’s looks at several studies and learn how music makes you smarter.

It seems that musicians are often brilliant people. So, do smart people gravitate toward music as tall people toward basketball? Or, does playing an instrument really make you smarter?

While playing basketball can’t make you tall, studies show that playing music can make you smarter.

Sounds great. But, more practically, how?

The brain is the control panel for the body. This organ is responsible for storing information, sensory processing, memory, emotion, motor skills, vision, problem-solving, and more.

Just like exercising to increase your body’s strength, playing music can exercise your brain and make it stronger. This gives you a greater capacity to learn and store information.

We’ll show you how music gives your brain a workout in five different ways. (We’ve also tucked in many scientific studies for proof.)

How does music make you smarter?

It’s easy to claim that music makes you smarter, but the proof is in the pudding. Here are five ways music can stimulate the brain and make you smarter.

Listen and learn

Playing music can help children improve their listening and learning skills. When children tap out rhythms and match written music with piano keys, they train their eyes to pay attention and their ears to listen. The skills they learn in music lessons can also transfer to the classroom.

Researchers at Northwestern University put this theory to the test. They set up a program for at-risk, inner-city children to see if a music program could help children learn. Children who spent at least two years taking regular music lessons performed better than their peers in language and reading skills. This study found that music classes impact children’s learning abilities for good. It also showed that music has a biological (and positive) effect on the nervous system. Pretty powerful.

Use and improve sensory-motor skills

Music is a sensory experience involving vision, touch, and hearing. You see the sheet music, touch your instrument, and create sound. Playing music, you develop fine motor skills in your fingers, wrists, and eyes. But also exercise gross motor skills in your torso, legs, and arms. 

In instruments like the piano, the arms often have to cross the body’s midline. This is a skill that children continue to learn until they are eight or nine years old.  As children give their sensory-motor skills a workout, their brain learns new skills. Studies have shown that children who develop strong sensory-motor skills also show a higher level of development in academic learning and behavioral growth.

Beef up your memory

An instrument can help you increase memory skills. Your brain has to keep complex musical phrases and store them for later. Many professional musicians have to perform complex classical pieces from memory.

You start remembering the correct finger placement when you repeat musical phrases as you practice. When you hit a wrong note, your brain tells you something is off. Soon your brain commits these tricky patterns to memory, and you can play your song like a pro.

The memory skills you practice daily at the piano also apply to other areas of your life. Clinical studies on Alzheimer’s indicate that those who play music for most of their lives have better cognitive functioning and a lower risk of dementia. The sooner you play an instrument, the better off you’ll be.

Solve problems easier

Musicians use complex skills to read music and translate what they see to their fingers, hands, and even feet as they play music. Beginning musicians may find that using so many skills is pretty complicated. However, after regular practice, this type of multitasking becomes second nature. These skills then translate to other tasks. 

Scientific research has shown that musicians overall have higher cognitive processing than non-musicians. This also allows musicians to multi-task and solve complex problems with a higher accuracy level.  

Less stress and more mental health

We know that the body needs exercise to stay healthy, but studies show that the brain needs exercise, too! Playing an instrument can reduce stress levels and improve your outlook on life. When your mind is relaxed, you are better able to learn. So, pick up an instrument next time you are looking for some R&R.

What instruments do geniuses play?

We have to believe it with so many scientific experts and studies showing a correlation between increased intelligence and music! 

But enough about theories and studies, let’s look at a few geniuses in history. (You’ve probably heard their names, but did you know they were also musicians?) Let’s see the type of instruments these smart individuals played.

Galileo Galilei

Galileo was a mathematician, philosopher, and astronomer. He was one of the first scientists to use a telescope to study the stars. He changed the way we see the universe and was also a musician. Galileo connected that the longer the instrument string, the deeper the tone is. As he began to lose his eyesight in his later years, playing the lute was his passion and comfort. 

Leonardo Di Vinci

Leonardo was an artist and an inventor. He not only painted the portrait of Mona Lisa, whose eyes uncannily follow you around the room but also had an ear for music. He played the lyre and also invented instruments. Some of Leonardo’s creations include different types of flutes, stringed instruments, drums, hurdy-gurdies, and even a precursor to modern-day keyboards. That’s a lot of talent!

Albert Einstein 

We know Albert Einstein as a theoretical physicist who came up with the theory of relativity and won a Nobel prize. Also, it is a widely accepted that Einstein had an IQ score of 160. In addition to his genius skills, Einstein was also a musician. His instruments of choice were the violin and piano. He also loved listening to classical composers such as Mozart and Bach.

Elon Musk 

Even modern-day geniuses have musical talents. Musk enjoys listening to classics such as Frank Sinatra, pieces from Monty Python, and Electronic Dance Music (EDM). Elon Musk even writes his own music. Not surprisingly, his favorite type of music is electronic. Some of his compositions include Don’t Doubt ur Vibe, Rip Harambe, and Philosophy Tube. 

As you can see from this list of geniuses, which instrument you choose is not as crucial as just choosing one and getting started. So, what instrument will you go down in history with?

Play for fun and stimulate your brain.

We’ve left you with some theories, studies, and testimonies from famous geniuses. That was some food for thought! From the looks of it, the more you play, the smarter you’ll be. 

Learning to play the piano can be a healthy workout for the brain, AND it’s fun. Learning a new skill is never too late, whether you’re a young person or have grandkids in college. 

Need some help finding your way? The Simply Piano app can take your hand as you chart new territory in the piano world. Play in the comfort of your home, on your own time, with instant feedback, and put your brain to work!