9 Ways Learning a Musical Instrument Strengthens Your Brain

Sometime around my tenth birthday, my parents told me that I had to learn a musical instrument. For reasons that still totally baffle me, I chose–chose of my own free will–the accordion. And I stuck with it through eight grades of music instruction.

I became quite proficient on my 120-bass Titano, although when I started hitting the age when rock music reached my soul, I realized that I had botched my choice. Why didn’t I go with the guitar? Still, it wasn’t a total loss because I learned plenty about music theory, composition and performance. Learning the accordion helped also helped me with math, physical coordination and, strangely, spatial reasoning. As anyone who has learned an instrument will attest, learning how to play music will literally change your brain for the better.

Despite the uncoolness of my music instruction (I switched to drums later, in case you’re wondering), I’m a major, major supporter for any kind of music instruction. If you’re a parent, one of the greatest favours you can do for your kid is get him/her some music lessons. John Hawthorne has this article on the nine ways learning an instrument changes your brain.

Growing up, your mom told you to practice the piano. When you asked why, she would either say, “Because it’s good for you!” or, “Because I said so!” Perhaps this led to you feeling frustrated and eventually giving up the instrument. It’s a common occurrence.

Now that you’re older, you know that playing an instrument might be fun, but you can’t come up with a compelling reason why it should take away time from other important things. Or maybe you want to get started but your significant other thinks it might be a waste of time.

Mom knew it was good, but she probably wasn’t aware of the details. Fortunately, today’s scientific research on the brain reveals many amazing and surprising benefits to learning music at any age.

Here are nine very good reasons to start playing an instrument, all related to your brain. Once you’ve read them, you’ll have to come up with reasons not to play an instrument.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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