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Let’s make music!

Living Well
Learning to play a musical instrument can enhance your mood and brain power.

Are you getting a musical groove on this summer? If so, you could be onto something that will make you smarter, happier and healthier.

Research shows that making music regularly can improve your cognitive power, increase your IQ and even change the shape of your brain, making it stronger and better equipped to store information. It’s especially powerful when musical studies begin in childhood, but anyone can benefit, throughout their lifetime.

According to the study “Behavioral and Neural Correlates of Executive Functioning in Musicians and Non-Musicians” published in the journal Plos One in June 2014, improvements for musicians include being better equipped to make clear choices and decisions, solve problems and adjust to intellectual demands.

Musicians are known to be more alert, sensitive and able to process information efficiently. Memory and motor skills may also be enhanced by the process of learning to play a musical instrument and notes. Playing just one hour of music a week can cause positive changes in the brain in people of all ages, especially seniors and young people. 

A University of Liver-pool study from 2014 showed an increase in blood flow in musicians on the left hemisphere of the brain. Because that area is also responsible for processing language, learning a musical instrument can enhance the ability for speech and grasping new or foreign language skills. 

Listening to or learning classical music in particular – composers such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn – can increase our ability to solve spatial problems more quickly due to the complexity of the classical compositions. But any music you like will have a positive effect.

According Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory studies, music is a resource to enhance the brain’s auditory fitness, helping to strongly shape development of the mind and brain, including listening skills, in keeping with the benefits of physical activities on the body’s fitness. So, we can actually work out our brain, simply by listening to or playing music. 

Encouraging play with music, including singing together as well as making music lessons a priority for children (while helping them practice) can benefit entire families.

Finally, the positive emotional energy that is generated by playing or listening to any music you love can simply boost your mood, leading to better learning, healthier choices and a more positive outlook on life. 

So go ahead and crank up the summertime tunes!