How Playing An Instrument Benefits The Brain

Aloha Everybody!

Here’s a short but very cool TedEd video I’ve come across in recent years that I thought was very interesting.  It discusses the ways in which the human brain reacts to music, specifically when playing an instrument.

I’ve often thought about how the artform of playing an instrument is a very unique artform with regard to its engaging of the different parts of the brain simultaneously.

For instance, when playing an instrument, the performer enters what is commonly referred to as a “flow state”.  When playing music, this flow state requires that the performer simultaneously uses parts of the brain to:

1. focus on physical movements such as:

– fine motor skills to form chords, etc.,

– larger movements such as strumming,

– the independent, yet interdependent movement of both hands performing different tasks at the same time while working together.

– the hand-eye coordination when reading music.

2.  count and play in time to a tempo.

3.  follow along reading and singing lyrics aloud.

4.  sing in key and harmonize with music.

5.  actively listen to other musicians when performing in a group.

6.  comprehend and empathize with the emotional content of lyrics.

7.  access short term memory such as memorized chords and passages.

8.  access long term memories associated with specific songs.

Beyond this, psychological research suggests that the exposure to playing an instrument in childhood helps the developing juvenile mind to develop cognitive and mathematical skills; while the field of Music Therapy has evidence that supports that music can be helpful with memory and in slowing cognitive decline.


~ Mr Greg