With many students and schools jumping on the chance to involve themselves in music programs, it is no secret that playing an instrument has its benefits. But why should full-time, busy students take the chance to learn an instrument? As it turns out, neuroscience research has shown that playing an instrument is beneficial in giving students a competitive advantage in academics.
Students often look for the best ways to remember their material, how to study more efficiently, and even how to unlock their brain's full potential. Neuroscientists have shown that playing an instrument increases your brain's ability to absorb multiple sources of information at the same time. The corpus callosum, the bridge between your brain's two hemispheres, has been shown to increase in volume and brain activity in people who regularly commit to practicing with musical instruments. This then allows musicians to solve problems more effectively and creatively in academic and social settings.Furthermore, neuroscientists saw increased levels of executive brain function, which addresses skills like planning, strategizing, and paying attention to detail. These skills are simultaneously trained while your brain practices the analysis of cognitive and emotional aspects of music.
Taking the time to discipline yourself to practice helps you more than just knowing how to play Clair de Lune on the piano. Discipline is the act of training yourself by enforcing obedience or order, which is especially helpful when you are a student who struggles with procrastination. Even the amount of attempts it takes to get that one measure right, or the time you must wait to make that entrance helps improve patience. Time management is one of the most important things you can be skilled in as a student, and these musical practice sessions can seep into your academic life, making you more likely to discipline yourself to study for longer and make commitments towards bettering your academic career.
This may not come as a surprise, but music can greatly improve one’s creativity by activating the left, more creative hemisphere of your brain. As mentioned before, the use of the left brain allows you to train your emotional analysis capabilities, which is required to understand the emotional content and message of the piece. Some musicians like to get into music production, which caters to the art of creative thinking to produce a piece.
Playing an instrument allows you to unlock a new community of musicians that you can talk to. Making new connections is crucial to understanding the world around you, and being able to find connections to improve your academic ability, as well as finding new study buddies and tutors to help you with your work. More importantly, you can make new friends along the way which can provide support for the mentally jarring tasks of academia.
Other than significantly improving your cognitive functionality, music is known for its ability to reduce stress. This is particularly seen in student musicians who play instruments for recreational reasons, where you can unwind in your playing sessions with your instrument. In addition to this, self-improvement is a key factor in improving your confidence and perception of yourself, which in turn can make you more likely to believe in yourself. As overstated and cliché as it sounds, research studies have shown that being confident in what you do greatly benefits you in the long run, as it allows you the motivation that you need to go through with small and large tasks at hand, whether it be studying or entering a competition.
Many like to compare the effects of playing an instrument on your brain to a full-body workout, which goes to show how beneficial it is in strengthening your cognitive ability and maintaining good brain health. Remember that playing music should be something you are genuinely interested in, and it’s hard to fully reap the benefits when you find it mentally gratifying to do.
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Levitsky, Mike, and Dan Mohr. “16 Benefits of Playing an Instrument.” Piano Power, 13 March 2019, https://pianopower.org/16-benefits-of-playing-an-instrument/. Accessed 10 December 2023.
Nanna, John. “Music Lessons for All – Musical Arts Center of San Antonio Inc.” Musical Arts Center of San Antonio, 26 December 2019, https://www.sanantoniomusicschools.com/music-lessons/. Accessed 10 December 2023.
Sapega, Sally, and Abbey Anderson. “Playing an Instrument: Better for Your Brain than Just Listening.” Penn Medicine, 30 January 2017, https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-blog/2017/january/playing-an-instrument-better-for-your-brain-than-just-listening. Accessed 10 December 2023.