We used to believe that the brain was static; that it does not change after we’ve reached a certain age. But that theory has since been proved wrong – we now know that the brain continues to develop throughout life, as long as it is exercised. The brain’s ability to develop is called neuroplasticity. And one way of retaining that plasticity is by playing music.
Every time you learn something new, your brain transforms. When you learn a new song on the guitar or improve your sight reading, the neurons in your brain change and you develop new brain cells and connections between them. This means that your brain is never fully grown. It will develop as you learn new skills and gain new experiences. This is called neuroplasticity. But the plasticity of your brain doesn’t remain the same throughout your whole life. Your brain can develop and absorb new knowledge quickly when you’re a child, but it becomes less ‘elastic’ with age. That is, unless you exercise your brain.
This is where music education comes in: learning music can greatly improve your neuroplasticity! We have gathered some knowledge about how music can train your brain and keep it healthy.
You’ll never be finished learning music
When we’re young, we learn basic skills like tying our shoelaces and learning to write. These are skills that have a finite learning potential. Once you’ve learned them, that’s it. You don’t even have to think about it now when you tie your shoelaces, or when you write your name on a piece of paper. So your brain has formed the neural connections, but you’ve reached the limit of your learning. With music, there are endless skills and techniques to master, which requires constant learning! Even once you’ve mastered a full repertoire, there’s always so much more to learn. Many professional musicians and singers continue to attend lessons for their whole lives! So music allows you to constantly learn new skills, which allows you to constantly improve and upkeep the neuroplasticity of your brain.
Playing music is especially good for the brain
All forms of mental exercise are good for keeping your brain healthy and fresh. But music activates an especially large amount of the brain, so it develops your brain in many areas. We use different parts of our brains for different things. The part of the brain used for reading and interpreting rhythms and melodies is different to the part used to digest and remember everything, which is different again to the part that integrates it all. Learning music helps strengthen the neural connections across the brain, so the neurons are able to send signals to each other quickly. This actually helps you think faster! Studies have shown that musicians are better at performing cognitive tasks such as Sudoku than non-musicians. So it’s clear that music improves your brain function!
Why music becomes more important with age
Studies have shown that musicians can maintain their cognitive abilities even as they get older because they are constantly training their brains. This applies to both short-term and long-term memory. So music education can actually help to prevent various forms of neurological diseases, such as dementia. It also strengthens your body and helps to maintain your co-ordination and motor skills! Playing music also has a positive effect on stress, as you have to isolate your focus.
Unlike other brain exercises, music is a consistently rewarding pursuit. Every time you get better, you’re not only benefiting from the neurological rewards, you get to enjoy your new skills right away.
Source: Scientific American
Have you considered learning music?
It’s never too late to get started! On MusicTutors.co.uk you can find highly-skilled and dedicated tutors who are ready to teach you nearly any instrument at any level. It’s not only about becoming more skilled, it’s also about enjoying music and improving your quality of life.