There are many benefits that come with playing an instrument, specifically the piano. Some are obvious and some you wouldn’t believe, each are just as unique and important in their own way. Here are just a few of the psychological, emotional and physical benefits of learning the piano that may inspire you to learn or to carry on lessons.
Learning the piano is known to boost your cognitive and intellectual abilities which essentially makes you stronger in the parts of your brain which uses reasoning and math. This is because the same area (the parietal lobe) is activated when you integrate all aspects of your practice into one performance. Your eyes are used for reading music, ears for listening to the music, your hands play differentiating rhythms, all 10 fingers play separate notes, you need good spatial awareness to find the keys and motor activity to keep time.
This co ordination of movement will also activate your cerebellum which in turn helps improve your attention span that subsequently makes you more diligent with stronger perseverance skills. This is because playing the piano demands a split concentration as you must coordinate both your left hand, right hand, and feet. Learning how to compartmentalise your brain in this way will actually help you outside of piano lessons with multi-tasking tasks at home and in the work place.
Overall, psychologically speaking; studies show that music stimulates the brain in a way no other activity does. While playing a piece on the piano, you are adding new neural connections, which primes your brain for other forms of communication. So while you think you are just working on a particularly tough piano piece, you are also improving your memory, attention, speech, language, spatial and math skills, and even the ability to vocally convey emotions.
This is a lot of brain function and activity that gets used when playing the piano, it is surprising pianists don’t get headaches!
Building on the ability to convey your emotions, music is a way of expressing your inner thoughts. There is such a variety of styles when it comes to music, sad pieces, jolly pieces, angry pieces, lyrical pieces, and more. No matter your emotions, you can interpret them within your practice and you should feel a sense of relief as you release your stresses into something creative that will have a successful outcome.
As well as this, the piano has shown evidence on improving mental health, specifically being able to significantly reduce anxiety and depression. Now, you may be thinking ‘how is this possible?’ Well, playing an instrument is what is known a ‘mindful’ activity. This is because it takes up so much brain energy that it is difficult to focus on anything else other than the notes that are in front of you. Therefore, by giving your brain a break from the realities and stresses of life, you are giving it a safe distraction which can transport your mind to a different way of thinking. Therefore, reducing your negative thoughts and feelings that clog your brain. Doing this enough will begin to feel like a coping strategy which is a useful way to deal with life’s challenges.
Playing the piano can boost your self esteem. As humans, we love gratification and validation from ourselves and others, so by practicing a piece and getting it correct not only gives us the gratification we long for but it also means we hear positive feedback from our teachers, peers and audience which boosts our self-esteem massively. This is great for your emotional well-being as a sense of pride and achievement releases the serotonin and dopamine in our body that we all enjoy and desire.
Of course there are physical benefits too. As well as the ability to improve your hand eye co-ordination, music has also been shown to reduce heart and respiratory complications in addition to lowering blood pressure. This is due to a mixture of reasons. Firstly, lots of music can be deemed as ‘soothing’ making you feel calmer. We already spoke about the reduction of anxiety and stress when playing the piano, and these mentalities can affect your physical attributes. So, by improving your mental health you can also improve your physical health as well.
Strengthening the muscles in your wrists, hands and fingers is a big bonus when playing the piano. Because you are using these muscles constantly and always working to improve your dexterity and endurance, your muscles will respond to this and therefore be stronger than the average persons. Piano performers, in extreme cases have been shown to change their cortical mapping to increase finger speeds. This not only increases the mobility in your hands, but over time can actually reduce swelling and wrists as well as fight off arthritis.
So there you have it, just a few of the many benefits you get from playing the piano. If you already have lessons, how many of these do you think have benefited you? If you don’t play the piano already, are you now inspired to do so? Remember, this applies to adults as well as children and it’s never too late to lead a happier, stronger, musical life.