The physical and mental benefits of playing music have long been recognized. The piano, in particular, has been an unparalleled outlet for those seeking escape, creative expression, and simply fun and joy. Recent years have only seen more evidence of the benefits of piano come to light, linking music making to a healthy body, a healthy mind, and a healthy life.
There are several benefits of playing piano that go far beyond a greater appreciation for music and the acquisition of a new skill. These benefits are applicable to both adults and children – it’s never too late, nor too early, to explore your musical side!
Even though you’re sitting down, playing the piano is a workout all its own, and offers different physical and physiological advantages to players of all ages. For instance, regular piano playing sharpens fine motor skills and improves hand-eye coordination in the young and developing. Research has shown that piano lessons for older adults have a significant impact on increased levels of Human Growth Hormone, which slows the adverse effects of aging. Bringing music into your life is also proven to reduce anxiety, heart and respiratory rates, cardiac complications, and to lower blood pressure and increase immune response.
Piano practice also boosts cognitive and intellectual abilities, which is to say it makes you smarter and activates similar parts of the brain used in spatial reasoning and math. Studying piano has also been shown to amazingly improve memory — particularly verbal memory — and build good habits like focus and perseverance, diligence and creativity. Playing piano has been shown to increase spatial-temporal ability, which figures heavily in math, science and engineering.
CALMs THE MIND
Studies show that time spent at the keyboard improves mental health: people who make music experience less anxiety, loneliness, and depression. Playing piano has also been shown to be a great source of stress relief, and provides ample opportunities to bolster self-esteem. It is also a widely used form of therapy for Attention Deficit Disorder.
Scientific studies show that music stimulates the brain in a way that no other activity does. Playing a musical instrument like piano adds new neural connections developing some higher tiers in the brain.
The mental demands of piano are so significant that players’ brains are structured differently than other people’s. Brain imaging have shown that playing piano strengthens the bridge between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and makes the connections in the frontal lobe much more efficient. That means pianists may have a serious leg up in terms of “problem solving, language, spontaneity, decision making and social behavior.”
While learning piano at a young age is a great way to develop discipline, self-esteem, and academic skills, it’s never too late to benefit from the power of playing. Adults who learn to play piano experience a decrease in depression, fatigue, and anxiety and an increase in memory, verbal communication, and a feeling of independence. Playing piano can also help alleviate symptoms of dementia, PTSD, and stroke, by improving cognition and dexterity, and reducing stress.
Tickling the ivories may not give you superpowers, but it’s clear that learning to play piano is one of the most powerful ways to exercise your mind, and soothe your soul.