How music lessons benefit your brain – It’ll blow your mind!

Music on the brain

When you pick up a musical instrument to practise, are you aware of what is really going on? Most people don’t realise, but the act of practising or performing on a musical instrument sets off fireworks in your brain!

Practising a musical instrument is a unique process that activates almost all the areas of the brain at once. Most activities we involve ourselves in, whether it be simply talking, playing sport or even studying math, tend to activate one or two areas of the brain, but music stimulates it all. This is because of several reasons that have to do with the various component activities that are involved in music lessons and music performance.

Firstly, reading music in itself is a complex process, and like reading any language it challenges the brain to process information. Secondly, when you add the physical aspect of using your hands in the very specific movements that are required to play an instrument, that activates yet more parts of the brain. Thirdly, your mind itself, aside from these first two activities, must also deal with the element of time. This is the unique part of music which sets it apart from most other fields of study. The brain has to process all the information required by the first two components, and then execute the movements within a precise time flow, or tempo. It is very different from trying to complete another given task within a set time frame, because the exact speed at which you have to complete that task is not specified – you just have to finish within a given time period. For example, in a maths test, you are working as fast as you can to get through all the equations and finish the test, but you don’t have to worry about working through them at an exact speed. But with music, you have to perform and execute the melodies, chords and other requisite mental processes at a very specific speed, or tempo. As the music becomes more complex, and/or the tempo increases, the difficulty level increases. Watch this video for an amazing TedTalks video on the subject.