We’ve long known that playing a musical instrument has a multitude of benefits for the human brain. Studies have shown playing an instrument has a correlation with positive effects like stress relief and higher test scores, just to name a few.
But a recent study hammers home the dramatic impact playing an instrument can have on a child, both during childhood and later in life.
Researchers with the Vermont College of Medicine studied the brains of 232 children between six and 18 years old. Some of the kids played an instrument, others did not, and those that did played for various lengths of time. Their findings were striking.
The researchers observed that the longer a child had trained on a particular instrument, the stronger their cortical organization in the areas of attention, anxiety management and emotional control—all critical areas for performing well in academics and in life. The cortical thickness of the brain in these areas physically increased faster, the same way our muscles increase in size if we lift dumbbells or perform squats. Like a workout for the brain!
One of the study’s authors, James Hudziak, told the Washington Post the study could have positive implications for kids struggling with disabilities like ADHD. Learning an instrument won’t cure the disorder, of course, but it could very well help the child focus and be better equipped to deal with the distractions of the surrounding environment.
The study’s results made such an impact on Hudziak that he decided to take up the viola, hoping to reap some of the benefits of music training himself.
In a time of ever-shrinking education budgets the axe continues to fall on extracurricular programs, specifically music education. This despite a growing body of evidence that shows the importance of music education, including a correlation with higher graduation rates (McGill University, 2007) and lower rates of drug and alcohol use (H. Con. Res. 266, United States Senate, 2000).
Let these findings be a loud and clear reminder to our education officials that Common Core and standardized test scores aren’t the only aspects of a child’s education that matter; music education has a tangible effect on our kids, helping them become well-rounded individuals with the cognitive tools they need for success.
Thinking of buying or renting a piano for your home? Our anniversary sale going on now makes it the perfect time to shop.