Music’s Unique Affect by Anna Futoran

Looking at the vast array of the benefits of music, I’d like to highlight an amazing TED-ED entitled, “How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain.” (TED-ED is similar to a TED Talk, but with animation!)  Feel free to show this video to your student musician!  It’s fascinating!  It just might make you second-guess your educational priorities.

Music is much more than a pleasant activity for children and adults alike! 

Listening to music engages the brain in a complex analysis of the components of the music – the melody, harmony, and rhythm – and also the cohesive whole. 

Playing an instrument takes it to an entirely new level! 

There is A LOT going on in the brain when playing an instrument!  Here are just a few of things happening when your child plays the piano:

Not only are the visual, auditory, and motor areas of the brain involved in playing, your child’s fine motor skills cause both hemispheres of the brain to fire, allowing the analytical left side to “talk” to the creative right side. This creates stronger connections between the two sides of the brain.

Interestingly, this kind of communication across brain hemispheres does not apply equally to other artistic pursuits – the elevated level of activity and interconnection in the brain is specifically linked to music making

Music has such a powerful impact on the brain – the TED-ED video describes music making as a full-body workout for the brain!

How does this apply to efficient practicing?

Dedicated music practice works the brain. Because of this, sometimes our brains get tired and go into auto-pilot! I’ve seen this tendency in my own practice and also in my students. To better engage in the mindful, concentrated focus that piano practice demands, it can be helpful to take a quick break between repertoire pieces to walk around the room and also take a few deep breaths

A little movement and oxygen break in the middle of a practice session can help any musician more effectively tackle that next section of music!  

All in all, the TED-ED will give you more information on these things. It is less than five minutes long, but jam-packed with fascinating information. I hope you and your child enjoy it as much as I did!

It is so exciting to discover more about how our brains have been made by our Creator to respond to and engage with music and music making.  

Best regards,
Anna

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