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  • Jeffrey Zhang

How Playing Music Benefits the Brain

Just like equations in mathematics, music is a universal language. Through music, we can communicate a complexity of feelings that reach deep into our souls, whether it's through the strings of a cello, the mouthpiece of a trombone, or the tender touch of fingers on a piano. These feelings often transcend cultural and linguistic barriers, forming a truly universal dialect that the world can tune into.

Musicians of all calibers are at a unique advantage. Along with being able to communicate universally, their brains are stimulated through music in a unique way that improves their overall brain health. Here are just a few examples of the irreplicable neurological benefits being a musician can bring.


1. Increased neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change, grow, and reorganize. Billions of neutrons exist in the brain, forming its fundamental structure. The more you engage in any activity, the more consistently the neurons that are being used will fire. This results in strengthened connections within the brain. The uniqueness of music training is that neuroplastic changes are induced in all areas of the brain. From pitches, rhythms, and fine motor skills to sounds and memorization of sensory information, the brain lights up like a firework. In short, it gives your brain a top to bottom workout.

2. Improved cognitive abilities

Various studies have shown that both short-term and long-term music training improves cognitive abilities and performance in areas such as memory, attention, and inhibition. Since playing an instrument engages and trains every part of your brain, a variety of neuronal connections are strengthened. This increases signal efficiency all over the brain (the speed at which neurons can communicate with each other), which explains why musicians perform better in cognitive tasks.

3. Healthy brain aging

Research has shown that musicians have an edge when it comes to maintaining cognitive abilities as they age. The memory, focus, and multi-tasking skills enhanced through music carry on more efficiently through age. When compared to seniors with no music training, older musicians can hear better in loud environments, have better memory, possess better cognitive controls, and can filter out irrelevant external stimuli more efficiently. Best of all, these benefits come from both short and long term training!

4. Psychological health

Recent studies have revealed that playing music is a potential way to maintain psychological health. For example, playing music has been associated with a lowered risk of dementia and reduced stress. It also increases the volume and capacity of the corpus callosum - the bridge between the brain hemispheres - which allows musicians to think outside the box. Although more research is needed, it is clear that music training is vastly beneficial to psychological health.

5. Music training is rewarding

From finally polishing off that piece to perfecting your technique, playing music is something that people ultimately enjoy. Music activates various brain structures involved in reward processing and pleasure, releasing pleasure hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. This creates a wave of additional psychological benefits, ranging from decreased stress, decreased heart pressure, decreased risk of depression, and many more.


All in all, music is a vastly beneficial and a completely unique way to give your brain a complete workout. It is a completely unparalleled way to keep your brain healthy and your mental state sharp. Although starting at an early age provides superior benefits, it is never too late to pick up an instrument! Your brain will appreciate it, and so will you.

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