Music is rewarding. The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) claims that about seven out of ten children have had some sort of musical involvement. Learning to play an instrument and creating music for yourself takes that enjoyment to another level.
In many ways, learning how to read musical notation and how to render a song on an instrument is similar to picking up a new language. There are a set of norms that you’re not aware of until you begin immersing yourself in either a foreign language or an instrument, and part of the reward is discovering this new facet of music in general. Apart from the benefits, you’ll gain from broadening your perspective through music, there are also a number of cognitive and coordination benefits for musicians.
If you’ve ever listened or attended a classical concert, you’ll have seen musicians play long pieces that frequently involve twenty or thirty-minute sections of continuous performance. There is no doubt that the memory and recall required of a person needs to grasp all of those notes and subtle tones, not get confused, and perform a piece of music consistently is high. A study published by the American Psychological Association (APA) notes that: “The melody of a song, in some situations, can facilitate learning and recall.” One of the primary benefits of music is its universality, its ubiquity, and the intuitive nature of its practical benefits.
When I say cognition, I mean the process of thinking, relating things and making decisions in comparison to memory which refers more to how you retrieve useful information that you have been previously exposed to. Listening to music alone produces strong cognitive benefits, as a paper in Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair states that: “Music listening conveys beneficial effects on cognitive processes in both normal and pathologic cerebral functioning.” Music helps improve the speed and number of associations you can make during your everyday life.
Nowadays, there are a lot of cheaper alternatives to instruments such as the piano - the cheapest keyboards are $100. The proliferation of the Internet also means that picking up an already intuitive instrument like the piano has become easier than ever. While you may not master the piano in any short amount of time, just getting started and learning the basics has become much easier for the average person.
Faster and More Accurate Coordination
Think of the dexterity and coordination that a competent musician such as a concert pianist or a guitarist needs to play their melodies. Each chord and sequence require a significant amount of time investment to perfect, and that level and type of practice results in enhanced coordination abilities.
The British Journal of Music Education reported that: “...professional musicians demonstrated extensive metacognition in relation to their preparations for performance encompassing technical matters, interpretation, and issues relating to learning itself, e.g. concentration, planning, monitoring, and evaluation.” Staying in rhythm and in sync with a time signature is required for the performance of most musical pieces. There are also a number of small details in musical notation that dictate the tone, key, and volume that you should play at - remembering all of these details and staying true to them requires a great degree of concentration.
Palliative Effect For Certain Disorders
We’ve already seen how music can have a profoundly positive impact on a number of cognitive and memory-related processes and how it can be used as a therapeutic option for degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. But music also has potent palliative effects for those with Alzheimer’s, as studies indicate that musical memories are usually spared from the progressive memory loss associated with the disorder. With your skills as a musician, you will be able to benefit regular people as well as those who are suffering.
The perception of music engages a variety of your brain’s emotional faculties and the more creative and less logical “right brain”. The government-sponsored National Science Foundation (NSF) reveals that a person’s mind enters a unique state when performing music tasks that are creatively demanding such as improvisation: “Brain scans show a distinct difference when professional musicians are playing composed music, versus when they are improvising.” Your experience with music and your effort to become a musician will allow you a greater interpretative and creative breadth as your advance.