In our current society, many parents would want their children to learn how to play a musical instrument. Among the many instruments, the piano is a very popular option. “They” say learning music is good for your children; it is good for the brain. But do you really know what actually happens to your brain when you learn to play an instrument – particularly the piano?
In this article, I wish to shed some light on the effects of piano playing on your brain and why you should consider playing it too. These findings were possible as a result of modern technology in brain scans such as electroencephalogram ( EEG) and FMRI. These allows us to peep into the inner workings of our brain.
Piano playing activates many brain regions. It is often considered as a total brain workout when you play the piano. But before we look at the “whys” , it is useful to know that our brain are separated into these 5 general regions ( the technical names were left out for the purpose of an easier read ) : Thinking , Listening, Visual, Touch , Feeling.
The brains were also separated into left and right portions where each processes information received from the opposite side of the body – for example, the left brain processes information received on the right side of the body and vice versa.
In the process of playing the piano, you are required to make refined movements to play the notes in order to get the sound you want out of the piano keys. These movements are processed and refined by the Touch And Listening parts of your brain. Furthermore, your Visual and Thinking regions of the brain are activated when you read music scores and process the music notations.
Each piece of the music has a character and an emotion underlying its notations and it is your Feeling region of the brain that processes and produces the corresponding feelings for the piece.
All these processes ,combined with the pianist’s challenge to approach the 88 keys on the piano with both hands ( sometimes playing up to 10 or more notes at once ), helped the pianist develop brain capacity.
In an article titled: Are Piano Player’s Brain Different Than Other People?, it was discovered that musician’s brains had more well-coordinated Thinking region of the brain. This is the part of the brain that handles planning and logic. Furthermore, musician’s were found to be more alert and were able to use brain resources more efficiently.
The extensive music education results in a higher number and size of nerve cells in regions of the brain that handles the Listening and Touch. These proves to have benefits that extend to improvement in music and verbal memory.
The improvement in the Thinking region not only benefits the piano player during music lessons. It was found out that it helps them make more efficient decisions too. Furthermore, they also benefit from better problem solving skills , language skills, and improved social behavior ( just to name a few ).
In another article titled: Science Shows How Piano Players’ Brains Are Actually Different From Everybody Elses’ , it was discovered that all the activity of piano playing resulted in lesser blood pumped into the brain as compared to average people in the regions associated with Touch. A lesser blood flow indicates that lesser energy is needed to concentrate and this frees up the mind to do something else. A result that is truly unique to pianists.
Furthermore, the act of learning a music piece in itself has benefits too. It is linked to improved learning and memory activity. A result which is supported by images from the MRI scans. You can see the findings here.
Well, by now we could probably all agree that one has much to gain from just learning how to play the piano. The above is just a brief discussion of what happens inside your brain and it does not serve as a complete analysis on brain activity. If you wish to learn more about the nitty gritty aspects of brain development, you may need to source for journal articles that are designed for that specific purpose.
Otherwise, maybe you can start to look around you and see if the smartest people in your clique are musicians. If so, maybe now you know why.
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