Brain Fitness

Brain fitness which creates and maintains new pathways in the brain can be accomplished while learning to play the piano. Our brain likes repetition and patterns which are inherent in the study of a musical instrument, especially the piano.

Oliver Sacks, internationally known physician, professor and neuroscientist, was a proponent of keeping our brain fit. He  believed music had a strong effect on the entire brain. He said that playing a musical instrument, whether you learned as a child or adult, has added benefits. Language is strengthened, enhanced, and the diminishing function associated with aging can be slowed.  

“The inexpressible depth of music, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain...Music expresses only the quintessence of life and of its events, never these themselves.”
― Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

I highly recommend reading his book Musicophilia which cites many case studies on the effects music has played on people's lives.

In the book, Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, Daniel Levitan, neuroscientist and musician, said that the entire brain is used when listening to or performing music. He did many studies on people by using PET scanners to discover this information. Contrary to past belief, new pathways are being created to replace those that do not work.

The piano/keyboard is one of the best musical instruments to begin studying to aid in brain fitness and to keep your mind active.

Pattens are easy to see. Half and whole steps, essential music building blocks, are obvious on the piano keys.

Steven Aldrich in his Posit Science article on August 18, 2010 said, "Music is a fundamental and universal means of expression. The ability to recognize rhythm and melody is a core function in all of our brains that can be traced back before speech. From an evolutionary standpoint, music precedes language. Our brains are wired to respond to music and we respond at multiple levels, from basic recognition of tones and timing to deeper recognition of melody and finally emotional responses based on the music itself or memories connected to the music...and how jazz improvisation changes your brain."

It was interesting to read of studies from the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences Journal and Nature Review Neuroscience that told about clear positive changes in the brain of musicians especially in our auditory system when music is actively studied and played on a regular basis.

Quoting Dr. Sacks, “Music is much more than a beautiful luxury. It is a fundamental way of expressing our humanity – and it is often our best medicine.”

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