Wednesday, June 5, 2013

5 Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Musical Life

Without consulting a single study about the benefits of playing a musical instrument, it’s easy to point to several reasons to pick up a musical habit. Self discipline and self confidence are clear benefits. Happiness and a sense of accomplishment also top the list. Then, of course, there’s the cool factor. So what are some less obvious benefits of music? We waded through a bunch of studies for you and here are our favorites:

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Believe it or not, playing music can help you age gracefully. Playing music increases human growth hormone (HgH) production among active older Americans. For those needing a HgH refresher, HgH is a peptide hormone that stimulates growth, cell reproduction and regeneration in humans. The findings of a University of Miami study revealed that the test group who took group keyboard lessons showed significantly higher levels of HgH than the control group people who did not make music. Musical activity throughout life has many conginitive benefits. According to researcher Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, PhD "since studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older."

Ever felt like you wanted to smash your guitar...until you started playing it? Come to find out, playing music was found to lower the heart rates and regulate the blood pressure of patients who had undergone surgery (Bryan Memorial Hospital in Lincoln, Neb., and St. Mary's Hospital in Mequon, Wis.). In fact, there’s an entire therapeutic method that employs music to identify and treat the triggers of anger. Anger  Management Music therapy helps people channel their anger in a positive and productive manner. Good to know...

Killed off a few brain cells in your day? Take up playing a musical instrument and earn a few of those IQ points back! According to Lutz J√§ncke, a psychologist at the University of Zurich: "Learning to play a musical instrument has definite benefits and can increase IQ by seven points, in both children and adults...We found that even in people over the age of 65 after four or five months of playing a instrument for an hour a week there were strong changes in the brain...The parts of the brain that control hearing, memory, and the part that controls the hands among others, all become more active.” Live hard? Play (music) hard.

Making music can help stave off job burnout and improve your mood. In a study of nursing students at Allegany College of Maryland, there was a 28.1% improvement in total mood disturbance among those involved in recreational music-making. According to a study published in Advances in Mind-Body Medicine, there was a 62% improvement  in mood 6 weeks after the completion of the music-making program consisting of one hour per week! So, if your job is bringing you down, look to music for help.

Technical skills are often associated with high earnings....and so are musical training and mastery of the arts! It should come as no surprise that, according to a CA study, 75% of Silicon Valley CEO's are trained musicians. The very best engineers and technical designers in the Silicon Valley industry are, nearly without exception, practicing musicians, reported Grant Venerable in "The Paradox of the Silicon Savior". How could this be? Musicians left and right brains communicate differently than those who have not been musically trained. Creative thinkers are a valuable commodity.

The moral of this story? If you’re a practicing musician, stick with it! If you’ve always wanted to play an instrument, find a teacher and get crackin’. Regardless of which study you consult, the verdict is nearly always the same: playing a musical instrument will improve your quality of life. Period.


  1. Nice article. Interesting information on hormones produced by playing music.

  2. Hi Thasin - thanks for the kind words! We're glad you enjoyed the article! Our musicians regularly publish posts on this blog - you can sign up for regular updates by providing your email in the box marked 'Subscribe by Email' on the upper right.

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