Adult Learners

The Real Benefits of Playing an Instrument

By Claire Robertson
The Real Benefits of Playing an Instrument

Learn all about the mental, emotional, and social benefits of playing an instrument

The real benefits of learning to play an instrument last a lifetime. Playing an instrument or singing in a choir stimulates your brain, coordinates multiple senses, and boosts your emotional well-being. Making music offers cognitive benefits far beyond tapping into your creative side! In this article, we’ve got answers to your questions about the benefits of playing a musical instrument at any age, plus links to articles and scientific reviews. 

At any age, making music strengthens your cognitive skills and memory as well as creative mental muscles. It’s never too late to begin to enjoy the cognitive benefits of playing music or singing in an ensemble. Read on and find out how playing an instrument can make you smarter as you get older, and how playing piano improves children’s performance in school. 

Ready to boost your brain with piano playing? Try Hoffman Academy Premium today! Our multi-sensory method helps students of all ages learn to play the piano with ease.

How does playing an instrument affect your brain?

The benefits of learning an instrument begin in childhood. Young pianists enrolled in music classes outperform their peers in school – more on that below! The act of learning to play a musical instrument offers other emotional skills that last a lifetime, like perseverance and attention. Musicians learn to collaborate and work together. You can read more about the social benefits of lifelong music making in our article What Learning Music Taught Me.

Learning an instrument has benefits for adults too. In this popular article summarizing recent research, making music improves brain health and performance even at advanced ages – no matter when you start learning! In the same study, playing a musical instrument showed a protective effect on the brain and strengthened memory for older adults. Learning to play an instrument is good for the brain because it’s a complex skill that involves coordinating movement and feedback from the senses of hearing, sight, and touch. Sight reading music calls upon students to learn a new language (musical notation) and communicate using these new ideas. Add in playing or singing in an ensemble, and making music offers a full brain workout! 

Learning to play the piano (and continuing to practice!) offers multi-sensory and motor training too! Controlling each hand and finger separately drills spatial awareness and coordination, while reading sheet music works your language skills. Learning to complete these complex tasks builds new neural pathways in your brain. You can check out this blog post for more on the benefits of playing the piano for kids and adults.

Does playing an instrument make you smarter?

At any age, learning to play an instrument benefits your brain. Young students experience this as an increase in attention and performance in schools. In this article, scientists observed that 3rd graders learning music showed better performance in spelling and language skills. Older instrumentalists in their golden years similarly outperformed their peers in this study.

Music offers clear cognitive benefits because it involves physical tasks alongside cognitive tasks. Mr. Hoffman created the Hoffman Method focusing on early childhood development and learning theory so that children can get the full cognitive benefits of learning piano. The Hoffman Method’s multi-sensory approach can strengthen anyone’s neural connections as they learn piano. 

Benefits of playing an instrument as a child

It’s scientifically proven that playing the piano helps develop mental skills and strengthen concentration. In 2006, the journal Brain published an article about these findings titled  “First Evidence That Musical Training Affects Brain Development In Young Children.” Those scientists found that musical training improved children’s memory. Over the course of a year, the scientists measured overall academic performance and found that the students enrolled in music lessons outperformed students who were not taking music classes. 

Learning to play the piano seems to help children develop memory, attention, and self control. At Hoffman Academy, we believe that’s also because music lessons offer a fun way to exercise the brain. Piano lessons provide a creative outlet where students learn to keep track of many different processes and create new pathways in their brains. Music gets many areas of the brain working together as it touches on math, language, the science of hearing, and more.  

Learning to play piano also offers emotional benefits. Through the creative process, making music positively affects our moods and how we feel. Learning to play an instrument and listen to one another in an ensemble also improves student’s interpersonal connections. The scientists writing the article hypothesized that auditory, or listening-based learning, helps young musicians perform better in other areas. We see the same benefits from the Hoffman Method, which uses ear-before-eye musical training, so our young pianists learn listening and empathy through music. 

Benefits of playing an instrument as an adult

Learning to play an instrument offers significant benefits for adults. As the authors of this article in the journal Frontiers of Psychology put it, “playing piano and learning to read music can be a useful intervention in older adults to promote cognitive reserve (CR) and improve subjective well-being.” In simple terms, the act of learning to play music can make adults’ mental skills sharper and increase their happiness. For older adults, additional studies show that playing the piano and other instruments can improve attention, fine motor control, visual scanning, and executive function. 

What are good instruments to start with?

The best instrument to start learning is the one that motivates you! Dementia researcher Anne Corbett’s research has found that “keyboard instruments showed the strongest effect on both memory and executive function.” Woodwind and brass instruments also had positive effects on strengthening the mind in the same study, and singing in a choir helped aging adults perform better on complex mental tasks. 

So, pick the instrument that makes your heart sing! At Hoffman Academy, we have an extensive library of 300+ video lessons and popular songs to get you started playing piano! All you need is a computer or tablet (and a keyboard) to bring the benefits of learning an instrument into your home. Our entire library of video lessons is free to help people all over the world learn piano. Plus, we offer an extensive list of free musical resources on our blog to integrate music into your household in our post about Homeschool Music Lessons

Additionally, we offer Premium tools that enhance student learning and complement the video lessons. These tools include educational games, custom practice sessions, unit books, and more. You can check out the following article to learn more about the Advantages of Learning Piano Online. This article shares 5 ways students benefit from learning piano online, plus extra tips about how to use a method like the Hoffman Method to learn piano.

Ready to enjoy the cognitive boost that playing piano provides? In just 15 minutes a day, you can bring the benefits of playing a musical instrument into your home, on your schedule. With Hoffman Academy’s step-by-step approach, you’ll gain a complete music education with all the mental and emotional advantages music making can provide. Sign up for Hoffman Academy Premium today, and see for yourself how playing an instrument benefits your brain.

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