It has long been taught that music is important for “brain power”. Surely you’ve heard about how playing classical music for your child will make them smarter. For years many believed things like this to be simply “myth” or “wives tales”. However, in recent years, science has proven that music is very beneficial to the brain. While music may not, necessarily, make you “smarter”, there is a direct correlation to music and more proficient brain function.
A recent study done at Emory University suggests “older individuals who spend a significant amount of time playing musical instruments have brains that don’t succumb as readily to vagaries of aging.” More notably a recent study, conducted by Nina Kraus, Ph.D., a professor of neurobiology at Northwestern University in Chicago, reveals that a musician’s brain is stronger than a non-musician’s in 3 distinct areas:
- Ability to hear speech in noise
- Working memory function
- Temporal acuity. (how quickly you identify a target tone)
In the study, conducted with 18 lifelong musicians and 19 non-musicians, the musicians performed better in EVERY case. Says Dr. Kraus, “Based on what we know about the nervous system, I would expect that musical training, even at a later time, might become a very effective form of therapy.”
Music in school is also known to improve scores in math and science. The most basic explanation of why is simple. The root, and key, of music and science is math. For instance, as a student band is playing a piece of music they are dividing and sub-dividing fractions. Whether students realize it or not, they are doing complex math. As such, that strengthens those synapses in the brain that are triggered when faced with a math problem. As stated earlier, a strong mathematical base will make science easier to understand, and thus, the cycle begins.
If you would like an audio demonstration of the importance of music, please click here.
As you can see, and hear, music is clearly beneficial to healthy brain activity. I encourage you to either pick up a musical instrument (it’s NEVER to late to learn), or encourage your children to pursue a musical interest. Unlike sports, which are fun in their place, music is something you can do when you’re 80!!