These days, there are shortcuts for everything–including how to get smarter, quicker. Usually this involves downloading an app or two on your iPhone so you can play brain-boosting games during your morning skytrain commute. But what about taking the time to really learn something new, like a musical instrument? Investing the time to immerse yourself in this beautiful process has more benefits than you could possibly imagine.
Enhance Memory, Spatial Reasoning and Language Skills Through Musical Training
Learning to play a musical instrument can have a dramatic effect on the actual structure of your brain. Through our emotional connection to the music we play, our brain is stimulated in new ways. The majority of our senses are engaged: vision, hearing and touch. Our fine motor skills are honed. This rather complex experience, over a prolonged period of time, promotes long-lasting changes in the brain.
How learning a musical Instrument Changes Your Brain
It’s been proven that the bundle of nerve fibres that connect the two sides of your brain, otherwise known as the corpus callosum, is larger in musicians. The areas of the brain involved in movement, hearing and visuo-spatial abilities also appear to be larger in professional piano players whereas the brain areas devoted to processing touch in the left hand is increased in violinists.
The Long-Term Benefits of learning a musical Instrument
So not only does playing an instrument increase the connection between the two sides of your brain, it enhances your language memory function, spatial reasoning and literacy skills. As far as brain training goes, learning to play a musical instrument is the foremost way to strengthen memory and language through its very strong cognitive stimulus. Not to mention the added bonus of being part of an amazing tradition in the arts that has shaped our culture over the generations. Long live music.
Photo credit: Gavin Whitner