Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Added Benefit to Music Practice? Better Brain Chemistry and Wiring

A very informal poll here at Yamaha MusicSoft found that, when we were children, 3% of us liked practicing music.  However, some very interesting scientific research demonstrates that practicing music and professional musicianship has profound effects on the brain.  A study from Finland investigated the size and performance of the connective tissue between the left side and right side of our brain.  The results fascinated us:
Musical training leads to sensory and motor neuroplastic changes in the human brain... The brain symmetry in instrument playing shapes information processing in these areas during music listening. 
What does that mean exactly?  Your brain changes chemistry, wiring, and performance not only when listening to music, but playing it on an instrument.  How much it changes depends on what instrument you play.  It's somewhat intuitive, but an instrument where you use both left and right hand simultaneously - keyboards, drums - show greater change than one-handed dominant instruments, like strings and horns.

Keep in mind that a bounty of scientific work shows music lessons provide a brain workout and that musical training builds skills outside of music in the emotional and cognitive realms.  Music has long term benefits in memory retention for aging.  Musical activity in any phase of life, especially in childhood, improves all sort of general lifestyle activities over the course of our lifetime.

In short... keep practicing!  You are doing your brain and yourself a lot of good!