“Music is the shorthand of emotion”
No matter who you are, it’s likely that music has been a part of your life in some capacity. Whether your class was forced to play the recorder in 1st grade, you sang in your middle school choir for a semester, or you just like to listen to Drake on a loop, you probably know how powerful music can be in shaping your experience and your memories.
But music is still more potent than that. So powerful, in fact, that playing an instrument can change the structure and mental capacity of your brain, increase your cognitive ability, and boost your memory skills. Studies have shown that regularly playing a musical instrument can even increase your IQ by 7 points.
Becoming musically trained helps develop your capacity to store audio information, allowing your verbal memory to improve. This leads ultimately to a mastery of language (both your native language and any foreign languages you may be learning). Essentially, music helps develop brain plasticity, which is the increased flexibility and malleability of your brain (an important trait for avoiding neurological and psychological disorders later in life).
To put it in simple terms, music makes it easier for you to be smarter. Who wouldn’t want that?
I’ve been playing the piano for almost ten years, and I can confidently say that music has been an invaluable part of my daily life. Developing my musical ear and sight reading skills has made me better at writing, speaking, and even math. I feel like I hear things more intricately than I would have had I not stuck with my instrument.
But more than simply reaping the mental and physical benefits, I’ve had some more emotional ones as well. Whenever I play piano, I’m able to forget momentarily about all the other stuff I have to do and focus on my music. Just doing that for twenty to thirty minutes a day is a great way to destress and get my creative juices flowing in preparation for an assignment or project.
Now, what if you don’t already play an instrument? No problem. The studies that investigated the benefits of musical literacy determined that, for the most part, they can be achieved at any age. So pick an instrument. From piano to singing to the mouth harp, the musical world is at your fingertips. Take lessons or just play around with it. As long as you’re making music, your brain will thank you.