Brain fitness is big business. Market research firm Sharp Brains reported that brain training apps and software are set to reach more than $3 billion in sales by 2020. Hundreds of clients pay anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars to register for these “brain gyms” to help their brain and its functions get better.
Researchers from the University of Illinois posit that people who subscribe to these services may be wasting their money. The theory comes after the researchers, made up of seven psychologists who also previously worked on brain-training, reviewed all scientific papers put forward by brain training companies. After reviewing the material, they concluded that people’s minds don’t get stronger; they only get better at playing the games.
If brain games don’t work to keep your brain sharp, what does? The answer lies in learning how to play a musical instrument. Even better, there’s no timeframe for doing so. Learning how to play an instrument can make your brain better at any stage of your life.
Encouraging Brain Development in Children
In 2015, a child psychiatry team from the University of Vermont found that learning how to play musical instruments may help kids control their emotions, diminish their anxiety, and focus their attention. Additionally, the more engaged a child is in learning music, like learning how to play an instrument instead of simply listening to music, the more the neural processes inside the brain are strengthened.
The physical, mental, and emotional engagement that playing an instrument requires helps develop better coordination, reading comprehension, and even math skills in children. These capacities are all results of understanding beat and rhythm. Finally, playing an instrument also nurtures self-expression. Through the pieces they play, children can convey what they normally would not be able to verbalize or express, otherwise. So, the next time your child asks for violin lessons in Lehi, you might want to consider all these factors when making your decision.
Developing Skills in Adulthood
As an adult, you’re likely exposed to dozens of stressors every day. This can be tiresome and can lead to fatigue, burnout, and unproductivity. Studies have found that musical training, even in brief bursts, increases the blood flow in the left hemisphere of the brain. The left hemisphere is responsible for logical, scientific, and mathematical activities. So, learning how to play an instrument can give you bursts of mental energy to do related tasks.
Adults who know how to play an instrument also have the ability to process multiple things at once. This is because playing an instrument requires you to process sound, sight, and touch at the same time.
Enhancing the Life of Older Adults
As a person grows older, the thought of retirement sounds better, and with retirement comes plenty of free time. One good way of keeping an older adult alert and engaged, especially mentally, is by having them learn how to play a musical instrument.
For a lot of seniors, it’s important to keep their cognitive skills sharp. By learning an instrument, they work on their memory, concentration, and coordination.
What’s more, studies have shown that learning how to play an instrument can help protect against dementia. In a 2014 study published in the International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers said that playing a musical instrument can be a noninvasive and nonpharmacological positive health behavior against dementia and cognitive impairment.
Countless studies throughout the years prove how beneficial it is to learn an instrument. And, if the information above is any indication, it shows that you’re never too young or too old to learn how to play.