Isn’t that just a loaded question? How can you narrow it down to just this blog post? Playing music everyday combines every subject kids learn in school into one activity. Language, math, history, science, reading, writing, and if you play a cello or another big instrument, physical education. There’s nothing equal to it and I could write a large book on the subject… But for now I will try to keep it short and simple.
I’ve been singing since I can remember… Just in church choirs and in grocery store aisles. For me, music is therapy. It helps me feel better regardless of what I have going on. If I’m working out, it pumps me up; if I feel stressed out, it calms me down; if I feel excited, it makes me feel even awesomer (it’s a word, I just made it up!). The other side is true too. If I play or listen to heartbreaking music, I can feel those past heartaches; if it’s love music, I feel more love for my people; if it’s inspirational, I feel like I can do anything. Music can help us create and store and recover memories more effectively. But beyond the power to affect how we feel and remember, there is a lot more going on in our brain and body. It’s like magic.
Brain scans have shown that when you play music, many different parts of your brain light up. What I mean by “light up”, is that those parts of your brain are active and engaged. So the section of the brain that stores memories, the section used to regulate emotions, the section used for sleep and appetite, the section used for thinking and decision making or the section that allows the left and right brain to communicate, are all working together while you play music. When your entire brain lights up, you learn, retain, and remember more… more easily.
Playing music also engages multiple senses at one time which helps you learn better. When you use your senses, different neural pathways are developed and strengthened in the brain. A neural pathway is a connection of nerves where information travels in the body. BUT when you use multiple senses at the same time, multiple pathways develop which makes stronger connections, making it easier to remember or apply that information later because it is more easily retrieved.
Music can help us socially as well. When you are able to play a musical instrument you feel more confident in yourself. It also helps us to build stronger relationships. When you play music with, or for a group of people, it can build strong emotional ties to those individuals. You also have to learn cooperation and patience when working with others. I play at a local open mic night regularly, and there is a sense of kinship among those who attend or perform. Now that I think about it, I don’t really know the political, religious, or family (although I have met some of their family members) situations of most of these people but I love them to pieces.
There are obviously many, many more benefits of playing your instrument everyday. There is nothing quite the same as having musical skills. If you need more convincing, I’m afraid you’ll need to use some more personal persuasion. Just go home and play your guitar, if not for all these benefits and mountains more, why not for the sheer joy and fulfillment of it.
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