Monday, March 28, 2016

Is learning to play certain instruments more beneficial to your brain than others?

 This was the question my 9 year old daughter posed to me this morning as she was gathering information to compose a persuasive essay on her chosen subject:   "Playing piano is good for your brain."  So after taking notes on this TED-ED video, we explored a little further.

Google led us to this
especially intriguing article by Jordan Taylor on Music.Mic. It's a little exhaustive for a 4th graders mind to digest, but it effectively motivated her to want to run off and improv at the piano. After watching the Oscar Petersen video clip she declared, "I need to go practice piano.  I need to get smart."

"Science Shows How Piano Players' Brains Are Actually Different From Everybody Elses'"

As both a violinist and pianist I've always considered violin the more difficult instrument.  I'm sure that in part this is because I have less training and passion for violin, but violin also requires more precise finger placement and auditory skills to play "in tune."  And yet the description of differences between guitar and piano playing shed some interesting light on how piano playing uniquely strengthens the brain in contrast to some other instruments.

Piano Improv Develops More Efficient Decision Making and Multi-Tasking in the Brain.  Although my formal training didn't include a lot of improv work, I really enjoy using Pattern Play by Forest Kinney with my students because it stretches a different set of skills then just reading and interpreting standard written piano music.  It pushes my students and I to exercise our creativity and stretches me outside of my left brained organized comfort zone.

Piano Playing Strengthens Your Non-Dominant Side of the brain. The relatively new addition of "Berens Training of the Left Hand" on Piano Maestro is a great tool to strengthen the typically weaker left hand coordination bringing it up to par with the right.

In response to my daughter's question, I can't convincing say with Piano Pride that piano is better than all the rest, but rather it develops unique brain skills But I am convinced that choosing to play a musical instrument is definitely going to benefit your brain in important ways that will carry over in positive ways in other aspects of life.

Other Articles of Interest:
Piano Playing Has Biggest Benefits When Starting Young

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