Why Playing Piano Is a Brain Booster
Piano playing is a natural and reliable means of sharpening your mind. Learn how this brain booster works in this short article.
In many ways, music is just like a drug. Instead of inhaling or ingesting it, our brains absorb the sound waves. These vibrations can take us on an emotional journey, making us rise to our feet and express vitality or wash over us with sadness, bringing tears to our eyes.
Whatever style of music that you listen to or play, it has authentic, measurable effects on your brain. So let’s see what brain-boosting qualities playing piano has to offer.
Your brain on piano.
Neurologists now have the tools to see what the brain does while listening to music. What they found is quite interesting.
Using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET), we can see that our brains light up like fireworks when we listen to music.
If we want to take it to the next level, taking part in creating music lights our brains up like really expensive fireworks. In the TED Talk above, “playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout.” Brain scans show that it engages practically every area of the brain simultaneously.
Playing piano is a super-dynamic activity. You have several actions to focus on simultaneously, such as reading music, forming chords, using pedals, keeping time, following pitch, and maintaining good posture while playing with two hands on a lengthy keyboard.
You’re exercising your logical, creative, visual, auditory, emotional, and motor functions every time you play piano. Like any muscle you repeatedly put under tension, your brain adapts to the stress.
And the results are nothing short of fascinating.
Playing piano increases the connectivity between the right and left brain hemispheres–combining mathematical order with chaotic creativity.
Some of the brain-boosting effects include:
- Increased motor control
- Better language skills
- Improved memory
- Superior ability to plan
- Higher levels of alertness
- Greater attention span
Research also implies that musicians tend to have higher IQs than non-musicians. They’re more proficient in divergent thinking, which is the ability to tackle multifaceted problems effectively. In other words, a convergent thinker will be more narrow in their approach to finding solutions, whereas a divergent thinker is more likely to think outside the box.
And playing the piano doesn’t just exercise and boost your mental capacities. It makes you feel good.
How is playing piano a brain booster?
Playing musical instruments–particularly the piano–significantly boosts your mental health.
If you’re playing piano, you’re likely to notice improvements in a variety of ways, including:
Relief of anxiety & depression
Depression is a mental health issue that plagues countless people in modern society. While treating it is a complex task for trained professionals, many experts agree that playing piano makes people feel better. Although the details as to why this is the case are unclear, a ton of anecdotal evidence suggests a link between relieving symptoms of depression and playing music.
Tickling the ivories temporarily relieves the daily accumulation of stress and lowers cortisol levels, reducing feelings of anxiety.
Taking the time to play music helps you engage with your creative side. It gives you something to look forward to and ultimately lightens the weight that you carry on your shoulders.
A sense of accomplishment is a great way to feel better, and playing piano is a catalyst for setting and executing objectives.
Like anything that requires discipline, it feels good when you start to see progress. For example, there is a sense of empowerment by setting and completing goals–like playing a particular song by the end of the month.
Another fun aspect of playing an instrument is that it can be a reason to spend time with other people. Not only do group sessions provide an opportunity to make new friends, but jamming out together can be an exceptionally fulfilling experience.
Accomplishing goals and spending time doing the things you love with people you like greatly impacts how you feel, improving your self-esteem.
You’ll also enjoy finer motor control with a nimble mind and balanced emotions. Because playing piano also:
Playing piano can also deepen your mind-body connection and fine-tune your hand-eye and foot coordination.
As we mentioned, a lot is going on when playing the piano. Your brain has a lot to deal with between reading sheet music, listening to subtle tones, and playing the instrument.
You must divide your attention into multiple tasks, requiring precise hand placement, movements, and careful timing.
An instrument that requires two hands to play different notes simultaneously can be tricky for the brain to process–especially when you’re just starting.
Everyone has a dominant hand that we depend on to do daily activities like brushing our teeth. Therefore, the connection between your brain and the dominant hand is more intricate than your off-hand.
With the piano, you’re not just learning how to use your off-hand. You’re learning how to use it while executing other motor controls simultaneously. While playing songs, your left-hand moves at a different pace and plays different notes than your right hand.
Your brain and body find these coordination movements incredibly difficult to perform.
Yet, it is through this struggle that you earn these brain-boosting benefits. Putting your brain and body through these exercises dramatically increases your neural connectivity.
Playing piano yields a host of brain booster benefits.
What’s exciting is that most of the studies between the piano and the brain are relatively new–which means there is still so much to discover!
You’ll be feeling good, sharpening your mind, and playing the songs you love in no time.