Music To One’s Ears…And Brain!

People who play musical instruments benefit mentally and physically.

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Adyan Al-Shamri, Writer-East

That music just tickles the brain!

Instruments: something which , when played, are capable of creating beautiful sounds and entertaining all of those around. Many may have found themselves wishing they could play a certain instrument, or have been impressed with someone who already can. It seems, though, that creating these sounds isn’t the only thing an instrument is useful for. Study shows that being able to play an instrument can have positive effects on the players verbal memory, spatial reasoning, and literacy skills. 

In a recent study, researchers took a brian scan of someone who doesn’t play an instrument and another on someone who does. The results had shown the corpus callosum–a bundle of nerve fibers connecting the left and right cerebral hemispheres–is larger in musicians. It has also shown that areas in the brain, such as movement, hearing, and visuospatial abilities (being able to identify spatial relationships of objects) appear larger in those who play an instrument. All of these facts seem to show proof that those who do play a musical instrument tend to have certain benefits to the brain. But, why is that? Just like someone exercises to keep his or her body healthy, playing an instrument exercises the brain to stay healthy.

Allan Whitehead, band director at Elkhart-East, has taken a notice to this, too. “Playing music engages every part of the central nervous system and develops both the right and left sides of the brain.” Just like solving a math equation, musicians are using their brains to go through all the steps and are thinking ahead. Developing these fast reactions also seems to help these musicians as they age. As people get older, their reaction times start to get slower and slower. But, these musicians have developed a faster reaction time than others, helping them keep their mind young.

Many have even found that their musical practice was a better fit for them than the traditional ways of exercising the mind. Band director at Elkhart-East, David Elliott, is one of those individuals. “It was definitely helpful for me to have something other than just words and numbers coming at me all day to provide balance in my life and get my brain wrapped around different scenarios.” 

Playing an instrument seems to be more than just a fun leisure activity; it is a way someone can keep his or her brain functioning to the best of its ability. Band director Allan Whitehead seems to want others to know this and join in on the fun. “I would recommend anyone of any age to start a musical instrument! It is never too late to start! Do your brain a big favor and learn to play an instrument!”