Quite frankly, very few things stimulate your brain in a way like playing an instrument does. Plenty of research has been done in recent years that shows how being exposed to musical training is beneficial in many different aspects of our lives, spanning from hand-eye coordination all the way to social interactions. However, one of the greatest things about playing an instrument is that it makes an impact on the brain no matter when you start exercising. Most of us connect playing an instrument with young developmental years, but that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. Studies have shown that practicing music later in your life can help you increase your mental stamina, overall coordination, verbal skills and memory, but it can also decrease high levels of depression, anxiety and stress. Having said that, exercising music has become a widely accepted form of therapy, psychological and physical.

Still, not every instrument stimulates the brain in such a vast multitude of ways. Piano is often regarded as one of the most complex instruments to master because it makes you multitask on a completely different level. Just think about this:

            - Eyes are reading the music.

            - Ears are listening to what is being played.

            - Both of your hands are involved.

            - All 10 fingers are busy (which is not often the case).

            ​- Constant synchronization of what you are hearing and doing.  

            - Constant synchronization of what you are hearing and doing. 

In order for our brains to keep up with this many operations, almost all of our cortical regions need to be active (visual, auditory, motor, prefrontal cortex...). One particular process that becomes highly upgraded with practicing an instrument, especially the piano, is the communication between the left and right hemisphere (corpus callosum is the structure that allows hemispheres to communicate). Here lies one of the reasons why musicians are often very good at what is called "Divergent thinking" (capability to produce many different solutions to a particular open-ended problem).

We could really go on about what our brain does and how it prospers when someone is practicing the piano, but that would surpass the needs of this article. So, let's pin point 4 crucial ways in which our brains benefit from exercising the piano.

1. IT'S A FORM OF MEDITATION

Being actively engaged in the process of practicing the piano has proven to be extremely beneficial with stress alleviation. To put it more simply, our brains feed from these kinds of activities because they reduce the level of cortisol (stress hormone). However, as we mentioned earlier, since it's such a pleasurable activity that makes our brains packed with endorphins (hormones that make you feel god), people who are struggling with depression and anxiety experience less symptoms if they are practicing the piano, than the ones who don't.

2. MULTISENSORY PARADISE

Being forced to process information arriving from many senses at once is one of the best exercises for keeping your brain as sharp as can be. Hence, musicians have an extraordinary skill to integrate all of that multisensory input. Just put yourself in a position of a musician who needs to stay in touch with the tune and rhythm of his fellow band members. This kind of brain power comes in handy in many walks of life, primarily because it increases our brain's adaptability and plasticity for many years to come.

3. ADVANCED VERBAL SKILLS

Even though it may not sound logical, but musical and verbal abilities are, as it turns out, very closely related. If you think about it for a second, being able to read music is actually quite similar to knowing a foreign language. However, embarking on a journey of learning music brings you closer to having a good memory. Scientist showed us that children who were exposed to some kind of musical training actually became more proficient in reading. Reading and music instigate the same abilities in our brains!Additionally, since it has also been proven that playing an instrument increases blood flow in our brains, the same technique of blood flow signatures showed that similar brain mechanisms were active during playing as well as reading.

4. COORDINATION MASTERY

piano-1522856_960_720.jpgOne of the skills that gets improved the most and quickest, while learning to play a particular instrument, is our coordination. We have mentioned in the beginning that, whilst playing the piano, both hands are active most of the time, and that often includes  all ten of our fingers. Still, before you can use both of your hands simultaneously, you first need to develop independent hand coordination. This is one of the reasons why musicians have such good communication between the two brain hemispheres, for it's no rare occurrence that their hands do two completely different things at the same time.

If you still haven't tried to learn to play an instrument, we honestly cannot think of a reason why you shouldn't. Some research has even shown that stroke patients who were involved with piano practices as a form of therapy, ended up with a significant increases in their overall motor control. You can heal yourself, express yourself, challenge yourself, develop yourself, and much more through playing the piano. It's up to you to take the next step. 

Published by sandeep Malik