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How Learning an Instrument Impacts Your Brain

How Learning an Instrument Impacts Your Brain

Life is hectic. We’re all trying to fit more into our days and juggle new rules, working from home, kids being home all the time, zoom meetings, preplanning weekly trips to the store, and trying to maintain social connections. It’s a difficult time, and everyone is feeling the stress and tension. 

Trying to maintain a healthy life balance can be challenging. It's often said that finding a hobby can help us achieve balance and quiet the mind. Well, we've done some research and found that the most effective route is music. 

How Music Affects the Brain and Body

Music has long been known to have powerful effects on people. Just think about how a favorite song makes you smile, or a sad one makes you feel weepy. You only need to look at your own experiences to see the effects of music.

Of course, there is also science to back up what you already know. One study looked at patients with fibromyalgia and how they responded to music. They discovered that the patients experienced reduced pain and an increase in mobility.

Another study found that music therapy can improve health outcomes, specifically in people with depression, Parkinson’s disease, or premature infants. It’s a wide variety of people, to be sure, but the results are impressive across the board.

What about the brain specifically? The documentary “Alive Inside” is a look at Alzheimer’s patients and how music boosts their brain activity and can bring back some memories and feelings. Other studies have found that music boosts working memory and short-term memory.

The Brain and Learning an Instrument

While listening to music is great, your brain can benefit significantly more by actually learning to play an instrument. This doesn’t have to happen when you’re young, it can happen at any age. And you don’t have to aim for perfection, your skill level doesn’t matter. 

In an article published in Frontiers in Psychology, several studies were reviewed, and the findings pointed out how learning to play a musical instrument can prompt changes in the cortical and subcortical regions of the brain, affecting motor, auditory and speech processing. Later in the article, they dive into how musical training can have positive effects on motor, emotional, and cognitive deficits.

Other studies have looked at how music can affect people and discovered that musical training boosts verbal memory, enhances spatial reasoning, and can increase literary skills. 

It’s believed that music can be a stronger learning tool because it stimulates the brain in powerful ways and brings emotional connections into play. Brain games can be fun, but they’re nowhere as rich and complex as playing an instrument is. Not only that, but playing music also involves many of your senses and often includes fine motor skills. All of these elements working together reinforce learning and can result in long-term brain changes.

Learning a musical instrument is very involved and requires a certain amount of multitasking to do it. Many of those areas of your brain are cognitive ones, including combining auditory perception, kinesthetic control, visual perception, pattern recognition, and memory. It’s like a workout for your brain. 

There are actual physical differences between the brains of musicians and people who don’t play instruments. An article entitled, “Art and science: how musical training shapes the brain” points out that neural plasticity is responsible for your brain function. The more pliable or plastic your brain is, the better it is at learning new skills and the healthier it is when you age.

Musicians have anatomical differences in their auditory and motor cortices and the neural connections between these two areas of the brain. They also have more brain matter in the somatosensory, premotor, superior parietal, and inferior temporal regions of the cortex. Yes, that means their brains are larger than non-musicians.

Learning to Play an Instrument as an Adult

While a lifetime of learning and studying music is fantastic, not everyone has that opportunity. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pick an instrument up and start today. In fact, even adults can reap some big rewards from learning instruments, including:

♦ Increases in reaction time

♦ Boost in blood flow

♦ An energy jump start

♦ Greater multitasking talents

♦ Stress relief

♦ Better breath control

♦ Ability to live in the moment

♦ Sense of accomplishment

CurcuWell for Cognitive Growth

Learning an instrument is full of benefits for your brain and health, you can add value to your musical training by supplementing it with LiveWell CurcuWell. With curcuminoid turmeric curcumin extract and Boswellia serrata, you get proven, positive support of brain function.

This powerful, clinically backed combination of ingredients with BioPerine for greater absorption boosts brain function and helps relieve joint distress and improve your immune system. This leads to better overall health that will have you feeling and thinking sharper than ever. It may even help you master that new instrument.

Connecting with LiveWell on Facebook @livewelllabsnutrition and Instagram @livewelllabs will also provide you with some ideas that can help bring a sense of whole-body wellness to your life that will help you on your journey to a life in balance.

Living Well

If you’re interested in improving your cognitive abilities or holding onto them, leave the brain games for playtime and put your energy into learning a musical instrument. 

No matter what age you are, you can benefit from learning an instrument. Several different parts of your brain are involved with learning music, which can basically turn your whole head into a multitasking marvel. This builds grey matter and strengthens connections. Playing music, or just listening, can also prompt emotional and memory responses, which are great for brain health.

Add CurcuWell to your music regimen, and you’re helping create a fertile ground of learning that gets stronger every time you work on your instrument.