7 Ways Music Strengthens the Brain

"In terms of brain development, musical performance is every bit as important educationally as reading or writing." ~ Oliver Sacks

By Nicole McCray

November 1 2022

Most people understand that music education has many benefits. When you're young, you may have had a parent encouraging you to pick up and learn an instrument. They may even tell you it's "good for you" without truly understanding why. 

As you age, finding the time to learn a new instrument takes a lot of work. You may be too busy with work or children of your own, or you may feel that learning is a waste of time. Perhaps you took music lessons as a child but grew bored or stopped practising and no longer play.

However, choosing and learning a new instrument has many surprising benefits, not just for your well-being but for your brain. As a musician with many talents, you can find amazing brain power to carry you through other aspects of your life as you grow and learn.

Learning an instrument at any age can be valuable. Here are seven ways picking an instrument can strengthen your brain cells.

1. Concentration and Memory

When you pick up an instrument and learn how to play, you significantly improve your memory, reading skills, and focus.

Our emotions enhance the memory processes in our brains, and music has a way of provoking strong feelings.

In this way, music helps to form and solidify memories so when you play the song again, you remember how it was the first time you played or heard it.

Focus is part of improving your learning skills. For example, when you are learning a new instrument, your brain has to work to concentrate and focus on the task at hand.

The more you engage this part of your brain, the better your ability to concentrate, which carries over into other aspects of your life.

2. Ability to Multi-Task

Many people want the ability to process more than one thing at a time. It can feel overwhelming when you're in a situation where many things are happening.

But, as a musician, you have more of an advantage. Learning an instrument and playing music instils the ability to process multiple senses simultaneously.

Playing an instrument activates both the left and right brain simultaneously. You use touch, sight, and sound senses, simultaneously giving you many sensory experiences.

You must also listen to your instrument and others and play in sync when you play with other bandmates. The experience provides a lot of multi-tasking practice.

3. Brain Cell Plasticity

Music training does some incredible things to our brains.

First, you must learn to concentrate on keeping a rhythm or beat throughout a piece of music. Brain responses become faster because of the way they process sounds. 

The younger you are when you pick an instrument and play it, the more the brain cell plasticity in your brain increases, states the drumming professionals at New York City lessons for drums.

In addition, a study found that brain function was more prominent in musicians than in non-musicians, demonstrating enhanced cognitive abilities in those who play an instrument. 

4. Increased Blood Flow to the Brain

When your blood flow increases, you have more oxygen and strength in areas of your body.

It's a reason why heat and compression are recommended for cold or sore muscles since they both are used to increase blood flow and provide relief from tension.

Likewise, musical training with an instrument increases blood flow to the brain. Doing so helps reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain. 

5. Music Improves Connections

Your brain is aided through connections to others, and playing and learning an instrument helps to strengthen those connections.

For example, if you play in a band, even a marching band, or another school band like an orchestra, you have close communication with all you play with, which can blossom into genuine relationships. 

Strengthening those social bonds increases your contact with others.

Connections, communication, and experiences with others all help us to release oxytocin and dopamine, the chemicals in our brains that enable us to feel good.

6. Learning an Instruments Helps with Reading

Besides your social skills, music training and education provide you with the requirement of reading and comprehension.

With more practice in your instrument, you are also practising and improving upon your reading skills. The brain can process with a greater sensitivity to speech and rhythm and improved reading fluency.

As you continue to improve on your instrument with practice, you become better, not just in how to play but in the areas of reading, understanding, and interpreting music.

Furthermore, music training gives your brain the ability to have greater phonological awareness. 

7. Increases Cognitive Function

When you pick up an instrument and begin to play, you rely on your hand-eye coordination, memory, and concentration to play skillfully.

However, there is also a cognitive function with various critical tasks that go into play because you are processing and retaining information, executing problem-solving, and controlling how you play. 

The functions of your brain are at an advantage with an instrument.

You present increases in awareness of your surroundings with this executive function, which can benefit the demands of daily life as you grow and develop. Productivity for organizational tasks and self-discipline are improved as a result.

Play an Instrument and Benefit Your Brain

Picking up an instrument and learning how to play it can be fun.

On top of that, there are so many benefits to the boost in your cognitive activity. Your brain cells benefit from picking up and learning a new instrument, regardless of age. You're strengthened in ways you may never have realized.

If you've thought about picking an instrument or learning to play, it's not too late.

Multiple music professionals, teachers, and instructors can get you started with your instrument of interest. Music lessons also help provide more structure, may adapt to your learning abilities, and set you on a path to being a genuine independent artist.

Playing helps increase your brain function, which improves your mood, sensory skills, connections, social skills, language, and reading abilities.

The exercise of picking up an instrument provides your brain cells has an endless amount of possibilities. There are likely even some advantages that still need to be determined.

But the evidence is clear; picking up an instrument helps strengthen your brain cells, without a doubt!