How Playing a Musical Instrument Alters the Brain

“A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.” – Leopold Stokowski.

Well, we know that playing a musical instrument is beneficial, but did you know that different instruments impart their own unique benefits to the brain?

According to Mic Com, if you study an instrument for long enough, it changes your brain in ways that make it unique from everyone elses’. Here it is in a nutshell, but I recommend clicking the links and reading the articles in their entirety…

What Playing the Piano Does to Your Brain

  • It overcomes “handedness” – most people are either right-handed or left-handed and it shows on your brain. The brains of Piano players show a more symmetrical brain anatomy because piano playing strengthens the weaker hand. – Journal of Anatomy, 2006
  • Pianists that improvise a lot – like Jazz pianists – have better connections in their brains making them more efficient decision makers and also more capable of spontaneous creativity – The Guardian
  • Pianists brains require less energy to concentrate so they can focus on other aspects of their music playing – Neuroscience Letter, 1999

Watch Henri Herbert and get blown away…

What Playing the Guitar Does to Your Brain

  • Like pianists, guitarists are able to shift their unconscious creative thinking mode more easily. This reconfirms that creativity can be trained and that it takes a lot of effort and hard work before it can appear effortless. – The Neuroscience of Improvisation
  • Guitarists brains are more in synch with each other, especially when they play together (Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2012) – I wonder if this can be translated to show that guitarists are also more intuitive in general?
  • Guitarists learn better by watching others play rather than from sheet music (Vanderbilt University) – I wonder how this affects their observation skills?

Check out this awesome guitar duet.

What Playing the Drums Does to Your Brain