WWe live in an Internet age where people are constantly connected. People—from young children to older adults—are immersed in media at all hours of the day. Our culture is focused on finding the benefits among daily activities. On the news and online, we read new headlines and hear stories about the health benefits of drinking coffee or a glass of red wine everyday, the potential behind a trendy new diet, the mental benefit of daily exercise or yoga, the importance of physical education and sports in our school systems for the benefit of our youth, and so on and so forth.
The current article was written to accompany the sponsored infographic below by . The original infographic can be found
With that information changing all the time, it’s easy to get lost in determining what is true and what is false. However, there is another kind of media that people often get lost in throughout their daily lives: music. It goes without saying that most people feel an intense emotional connection listening to their favorite songs, evoking feelings like desire, joy, love, and heartbreak. Now research studies exist that show the immense benefits that musicians get from their studies, practice, and performance.
Studying music and practicing a musical instrument has a profound effect on the brain. Playing a musical instrument is akin to a full-body workout for the brain. The left and right hemispheres of the brain (often considered the systematic and creative parts of the brain, respectively) are stimulated and engaged at the same time, working in harmony like an orchestra! The activity in these hemispheres and the bridge between them manifest as strengthened problem solving skills and academic and social prowess. Studying music shows proven structural changes within both adult and developing brains, including increased brain plasticity (the brain’s ability to change throughout life) and white and grey matter, the building blocks for learning and cognition in the brain.
Studies on musicians suggest that they have better memory, coordination, learning abilities, and understanding of nonverbal communication, as well as attention to detail, strategizing skills, and understanding of emotional aspects of information. These skills are considered highly desirable especially in students, and studies that suggest this impact are used to advocate the continuation of music and arts education in school systems around the world. In fact, high school music students showed higher GPAs than non-musicians at the same school, music majors had the highest scores in reading, and students in grades 8 through 12 taking music lessons showed improvement in unrelated subjects such as math, social studies, and reading. Social benefits also exist for music students as studies suggest that music students have stronger social ties and better interaction with other students, teachers, and parents, as well as decreased stress, lower incidence of anxiety, overall better emotional health. As any musician might tell you, studying music has added benefits on the side, as they learn patience, time management skills (we need to balance practice and sleep, after all), team building skills when performing with others, and the value of self expression.
The truth is, it’s never too early or too late to pick up an instrument and learn to play! Music lessons had a long term effect on the growth and development of children as young as 3 years old. Additionally, positives effects were seen in children with reading and speech impairments that played an instrument. On the other end of the spectrum, playing music is shown to help people as they age, with improved memory and cognitive function in adults ages 60-85, who took piano lessons for a mere 6 months! Physical benefits of playing music include decreased blood pressure, heart rate, and stress levels, as well as the potential to prevent or slow down dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
With claims of physical and mental health benefits of everything from sunlight to salt water coming at us from all angles, perhaps we could all benefit from a little more music in our lives to block out the noise. Check out these and more benefits of playing music in the infographic below.
The following infographic was shared by musicnotes.com. The original infographic can be found here.
By Jack McCarthy, featured writer for Dotted Music. Jack is a singer and songwriter living in Philadelphia, PA. You can follow him on Twitter @ImJackMcCarthy.