Some music enthusiasts love the challenge of sitting down at the piano or picking up their violin to learn a song. That’s because they understand learning to play music brings a wide array of beneficial traits that extend beyond the music room! When a musician learns to read, play and perform music, they gain mental, cognitive and emotional health benefits that will last throughout their lifetime.
Einstein once said: “Life without playing music is inconceivable to me. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I get the most joy in life out of music”. And as it turns out, Einstein was onto something: many studies show a correlation between musical training and academic success, in both children and adults. Learning to play an instrument stimulates the brain, improving functions like memory and abstract reasoning skills, which are essential for maths and science.
Brain scans have been able to identify the difference in brain structure between musicians and non-musicians. Most notably, the corpus callosum, a massive bundle of nerve fibers connecting the two sides of the brain, is larger in musicians. Also, the areas involving movement, hearing, and visuospatial abilities appear to be larger in professional keyboard players.
Initially, these studies couldn’t determine if these differences were caused by musical training or if anatomical differences predispose some to become musicians. Ultimately, longitudinal studies showed that children who do 14 months of musical training displayed more powerful structural and functional brain changes.
These studies prove that learning a musical instrument increases gray matter volume in various brain regions, It also strengthens the long-range connections between them. Additional research shows that musical training can enhance verbal memory, spatial reasoning, and literacy skills.