The Benefits of Music and Playing an Instrument

Have you ever heard that playing music is the brain's equivalent of a full-body workout?

It's indisputable that the benefits of music are huge and numerous, and research shows that people who take music a step further and learn to play, not just listen, are really tapping into that magic.  As a music teacher, I'm a big fan of this research and the wonder of music.  In my senior year of high school, I wrote a paper and did a semester-long project on the benefits of music on the brain and how it affects our neurology.  It was a super fun class, and the knowledge I gained has fueled and inspired what I do now to even greater passion.  I love my "job," for so many reasons, and I really care about the result our music studio has on all who take part in it.  I want my students to be inspired, to reach into their creativity, to learn, to have fun, to get quality lessons, to love music... and to get all these brain benefits!

The neurological benefits of music on the brain are true for all ages, but my research in high school focused mostly on younger kids -- elementary-school age -- because the younger a person is, the more their brain is rapidly developing, forming, growing, taking on skills, and very receptive to new things.  Imagine giving kids all the perks of music, when they're young and when it can soak into their growing brains and do so much good! 

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The reason playing music is considered a full-body workout for the brain is that it uses every part of the brain while the musician is engaged with it.  Playing an instrument takes physical movement, motor skills, and coordination.  It uses the ears to listen to what's happening and the eyes to watch sheet music, the instrument, and any other musicians playing at the same time.  Music requires the part of the brain that handles math and counting for rhythms, in addition to the hormones- and emotions-related brain matter for the feelings music evokes.  Any music with lyrics works the part of the brain that deals with words and language.  Because music uses the creative and the logical part of the brain, research has shown that kids who are exposed to music education and who practice regularly do better with schoolwork, tests, and learning in general.  And music helps people balance and understand their emotions and others' emotions better; kids who are learning to play an instrument are statistically more well-adjusted internally and socially.

Summer is almost over, and in just a couple weeks, kids will be going back to school.  Since the beginning of the school year is a transition period between seasons, schedules, and activities, I always think about it being a great time to try something new, like starting music lessons!  Everybody is falling back into the rhythms of routine and regularity, with work, school, fewer vacations, and more consistent schedules.  Plus, with all the proven benefits of music education, it's an excellent addition to a kid's activities and will help make the other areas of their lives more enjoyable and successful.  For those reasons, the beginning of the school year seems to be a great time of year to start music lessons, if you haven't yet and you're interested.

Music on any level adds a lot of value and depth to our lives.  Play music in your car and in your house!  Sing and dance with your kids!  Encourage creativity, curiosity, and art, and always promote exposure to good music and new music.  Listening to music is a great inspiration, motivator, and chance to feel understood.

And if you want to go further, consider getting your kids in music lessons!  I'd love to play with them. 

If you're the one interested in music, and you're reading this article for yourself rather than for kids, thanks for sticking it out!  We have all ages at BRI Music, and I'd be stoked to get you playing with us, too!

Please feel free to get in touch with any questions.  I love playing music, and I love sharing it with others!

Happy playing!
BRI