The Benefits of Music

The Benefits of Music

Music has been around for thousands of years, playing a crucial part in different events, and religious and social gatherings. Music is used for celebrations, mourning, bringing people together, working ourselves up, helping us relax and destress, and keeping us pretty sane. Whether you are a full-blown muso or someone who just likes to listen to music on an odd occasion, we are exposed to some form of music daily. It could be singing in the shower, listening to the radio on your drive to work or school, humming that song you get stuck in your head now and then, or even tapping your fingers on the desk while you work. Whatever the case is, music is a part of us. As a Chinese philosopher Confucius, once said, "Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without." Music can benefit us in many ways. Let us find out how!

Increases the Capacity of your Memory.

Research suggests that listening to music stimulates the brain enough to increase memory. A study conducted, examined twenty-two children from the age of 3 to 4 ½ years old that were given either singing lessons or keyboard lessons. There was a control group of 15 children who received no music lessons at all. Both groups participated in the same preschool activities. The results of this study showed that pre-schoolers who had weekly music lessons improved their spatial-temporal skills 34% more than the other children who received no music lessons. In addition, these effects lasted long-term. According to an article in the Telegram Magazine, playing an instrument can change the shape and power of the brain, which could lead to improved cognitive skills. Therefore, it is often said that musicians have a slightly different brain structure than non-musicians and use more and various parts of the brain than others.

Equips you with Better Time Management and Organizational Skills.

As a musician, it is important to make time each day to practice your instrument. Therefore, careful planning of one's day is important to ensure you get this time for practice. Practice does make perfect!

Boosts your Team Skills.

When playing music, especially in a band or orchestra, it is important to learn how to work together with other musicians. If you do not, well then, the pieces or songs that you play will not sound genuinely nice. Playing with others teaches you the skills to listen to what others are playing and match or harmonise with them.

Teaches you Perseverance.

Learning an instrument can take quite a while to learn and the songs or pieces can get progressively more complex. This will teach one perseverance and patience because there is nothing more satisfying than finally playing a piece of music you never thought you would get right. So, when the going gets tough, remember that things take time and practice and before you know it, you would have mastered that difficult piece.

Enhances your Coordination.

Playing an instrument requires a lot of hand and eye coordination. When starting with playing, musicians often feel overwhelmed because reading sheet music, having your brain subconsciously convert the dots and squiggles into notes, and knowing where and how to play those notes along with rhythm patterns and dynamics and so on, can be quite a challenge! Once mastered, it can be a straightforward process and it will become second nature.

Betters your Mathematical Ability.

Looking back on the previous point about coordination, along with the few things that musicians need to think of while playing, math comes into the equation. Counting out the crotchets, quavers, semi-breves, and semi-quavers all while keeping the correct timing of the piece.

Improves your Reading and Comprehension Skills.

According to a study published in the journal Psychology of Music, it stated, children who were exposed to a multi-year program of music that involves the teaching of complex rhythmic, tonal, and practical skills, displayed superior cognitive performance in reading skills in comparison to their peers who were not musically trained. This is mostly because musicians are constantly reading sheet music or chords. In addition, when one sees black notes on a page, one has to be able to recognize what the note name is and translate it to a finger position, all while reading the dynamics, rhythm, timing etc of a piece of music. Therefore, reading and comprehension is crucial.

Increases your Responsibility.

Musicians have certain responsibilities that come attached to owning a musical instrument. This includes ensuring that your instrument is always clean, maintained, and serviced when needed, as well as remembering different rehearsal and concert dates.

Exposes you to Cultural History.

Nowadays most music composed from a specific era or period in time. Music in itself is a whole history lesson as over the years music has evolved enormously. Therefore, playing a particular piece may expose one to different historical stories then, which can make one much more appreciative of the music. Today, a musician is exposed to different genres of music such as classical traditions, folk, medieval music, and so on.

Sharpens your Concentration.

When it comes to playing a musical instrument there are so many aspects to consider when playing which, require quite a bit of concentration. Players need to consider the following, pitch, rhythm, intonation, timing, and make sure the piece sounds good! Playing with others helps improve your concentration because one needs to listen to what the other musicians are playing and ensure they are playing the correct notes at the right time.

Improves your Self-Expression and Relieves Stress.

At times, life, in general, is deemed to get pretty overwhelming especially if you had a difficult day at work, school, or other aspects of everyday life. Turning to one's instrument can be a great stress reliever as well as a way to get out all of that pent-up emotion and pour it into your music. This is seen as a fantastic way of self-expression. Music is like art; you play what you feel with emotion and that in itself paints a picture of what the person is feeling. For some, music is just like therapy. A way to relax and calm the mind when you feel stressed out. Music therapy is a therapeutic technique that psychologists can use in practice. Not many know much about music therapy, but it has been useful in treating children and teenagers with autism, depression, and other disorders.

Creates a Sense of Achievement.

Upon deciding to learn a new instrument in the beginning phases it can seem difficult to play or learn certain techniques. However, after a few hours, days or even weeks of practising all that doubt fades away because hopefully, one would have mastered the techniques which they felt were challenging. This can be an amazing feeling! Finally getting breathing techniques correct, holding the bow right, playing a chord and it sounds really good, or playing a song without any mistakes. These are the things that create a sense of achievement for musicians. As someone advances in playing, they will encounter new and more complex challenges which in time one will overcome. Then something amazing happens. One day you will look back at the songs, pieces of music, or chords and think to yourself, wow I cannot believe I struggled to play this, it is so easy now. That just goes to show how a little practice can help you achieve remarkable things!

Promotes your Social Skills.

Playing a musical instrument can be quite entertaining for yourself but it can always be fun to broaden your horizons and play with other people. Some people turn to join bands and orchestras and as a result, one gets a feel for playing with other musicians and even getting the chance to make some new friends!

Boosts your Listening Skills.

As mentioned briefly in previous sections, listening is vital when playing an instrument as there are a few things to be aware of when playing and playing in tune is just the beginning. Listening comes in handy when tuning your instrument because let us be honest, there is nothing worse than playing an out-of-tune instrument. One needs to listen to others when playing to ensure they are playing in harmony with them, playing the correct pitch, tempo, and dynamics of a piece. There are lots of points to consider when playing however, it is certain to improve your listening skills.

Teaches you Discipline.

As mentioned throughout this article, learning an instrument can be tedious and challenging. To overcome this, one needs to practice every day to successfully master the difficult sections of learning an instrument. This kind of mindset teaches one discipline. The best musicians in the world have outstanding discipline, hence why they are experts in their instruments.

Elevates your Performance Skills and Reduces Stage Fright.

The idea of practising daily should build confidence in a person so that they can stand up in front of people and play the pieces they have learnt and can hopefully play well. The more one plays in front of people the more their stage presence and confidence improves. If you do suffer from stage fright, playing in a band or orchestra with others will be a great steppingstone to developing confidence in playing.

Enhances your Respiratory System.

When playing a brass or woodwind instrument, often teachers will give their students breathing exercises to practice so that when it comes to playing, they can expel enough air to play the right notes and not run out of breath too easily. Therefore, one is training and controlling their breathing strategically, which in effect, improves one's respiratory system.

Promotes Happiness in Your Life and Those Around You.

Playing an instrument can be challenging work and practice. However, it can also be enjoyable, not only for the musician but for those who are listening to you play. It can be quite fulfilling when you play in front of an audience, and they all applaud and cheer for you at the end of a song. You can make people happy with the lovely music you can play, and that in itself is an extraordinary feeling.

Enhanced Brains.

Music can have an amazing effect on the brain, it can improve the plasticity of the brain. In addition, when playing an instrument, one is using various parts of the brain than what we normally use, the parietal lobe areas, are responsible for mathematics and linguistics. It has also been state that the auditory, visual, and motor cortices are active when playing music. Scientists have discovered that playing an instrument is equivalent to a full workout for the brain and both hemispheres of the brain are at work. Music leads to increased volume and activity in the corpus callosum meaning, the brain can process information at a much faster rate. Studies have shown, people that play an instrument have improved problem-solving in social and academic fields. In addition, they also discovered that adults who play instruments have more grey matter in comparison to those who do not play an instrument. The even cooler part is that playing an instrument can change the structure of a child's brain after 15 months of musical training! In other studies, they found people who have exposure to musical training have better memory, attention to detail, better understanding of non-verbal communication, understanding of cognitive and emotional parts of information, planning and strategizing, learning abilities, coordination, and dexterity (performing tasks with one’s hands). It was suggested that musical training had a positive influence on children with dyslexia and speech and reading impairments.

Lowers Anxiety and Depression Levels.

Music can serve as a bit of a pick-me-up when feeling low and down in the dumps. Music is like exercise; it makes one feel good.

Reduces Stress.

Studies have found that when a person listens to music, it is capable of relieving stress by triggering biochemical stress reducers, therefore, reducing stress and relaxing us a bit more.

Music Keeps us Sharp Even in Old Age.

Music has vast abilities and, it keeps us sharp! A study was conducted in 2011, and it stated that people between the ages of 60-83 years, who have been playing an instrument for 10 years or longer were said to have higher scores in non-verbal and visuospatial memory, naming objects, taking in, and processing the latest information. In other studies, it discovered that taking piano lessons for 6 months showed increased memory, verbal fluency, and other important cognitive functions in adults between the ages of 60 and 85 years. In addition, this group also displayed improved planning and could process information faster. Therefore, music has a positive impact on people regardless of age! Music can lower blood pressure levels, heart rate, stress, anxiety, and depression which is something that is becoming more common nowadays.

Slowing Down Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Research has shown that music can prevent or slow down the development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. This can be seen through music therapy and how it has helped patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s improve their memory even if it is only by seconds or minutes!

Good for the Heart

Music is good for the heart! Studies have shown that when music is played, blood flows more easily around the body. It also can reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure, decrease cortisol (stress hormone) levels and increase serotonin and endorphin levels in the blood.

Improves One’s Mood.

Music is capable of boosting the brain’s production of the hormone dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that participates in particularly essential functions of the body such as movement, memory and pleasurable reward and motivation. As a result, it helps relieve any feelings of anxiety and depression. Music is processed directly by the part of the brain called the amygdala, which is the part of the brain involved in mood and emotions. Therefore, music can definitely be mood altering.

Stimulates Memories

Regarding Alzheimer’s and dementia, music therapy has been proven to relieve some of the symptoms of these neurological disorders. In addition, music therapy can relax anxious or irritable patients, improve their mood, and allow an opening for communication in patients.

Music therapy can be Used to Help with Pain Management

Music has amazing abilities it can reduce stress levels and provide a strong competing stimulus to the pain signals that enter the brain; therefore, music therapy can soothe people experiencing pain and assist with pain management. Music therapy could be especially beneficial to those in intensive care or palliative care.

Music has numerous wonderful benefits to humans and our physical well-being. It can also affect us all differently depending on our preference of musical genres. As we have seen with the few examples highlighted above, music can alter our mood and one can experience a range of emotions, it can also keep us healthy. In conclusion, we have learnt that playing an instrument and just music in general is good for us and can definitely be beneficial to many lives and hopefully will continue to be well into the future.

1 comment

  • Very interesting article!

    Katt

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