Playing an Instrument Has Brain Benefits

Shandra Martinez

| 2 min read

Playing an instrument involves almost every part of your brain, which may lead to enhanced cognitive function and decreased loss of memory. Evidence suggests picking up an instrument later in life can also boost your brain health — it’s never too late.
New studies from the Brain and Creative Institute at the University of Southern California show that playing an instrument can change the structure of both the brain’s white matter, which carries signals through the brain, and gray matter, which contains most of the brain’s neurons that are active in processing information.
Additional research shows that playing an instrument can enhance verbal memory, spatial reasoning and literacy skills. Here are a few more reasons why you might want to pick up an instrument and start playing:
  • Improved mental performance — Playing an instrument is like doing a workout for every part of your brain, including regions that process vision, sound and movement. It may help improve your mental performance and memory.
  • Improved coordination — Depending on the instrument you choose to play, you may be using your fingers, hands and feet in a rhythmic manner for a sustained amount of time. This can be a challenge for even the most coordinated people. Over time, playing music refines your hand-eye coordination and other motor skills.
  • Improved concentration — Focus is a necessary part of learning an instrument. Improving your musical skills forces you to use all the parts of your brain involved in concentration, helping you better able to concentrate in other life situations as well.
Here are some tips on learning to play a new instrument:
  • Choose an instrument that appeals to you and that you’ll enjoy learning.
  • Set aside time to practice a few days a week.
  • Start with songs suited for beginners or songs that bring you joy.
  • Take lessons or look online for beginner tutorials.
  • Have fun while you’re learning to play your instrument.
  • Remember this new skill will enhance your overall well-being and strengthen your brain.
Learn more about the benefits of playing an instrument in this Blue Cross Virtual Well-Being℠ webinar, Playing an Instrument is a Full Brain Workout. You can also sign up for future employer-or individual-focused webinars and guided meditations here.
Photo credit: Getty Images

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