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Practice Your Scales, Musical Instruments Improve Brain Function

Did you learn to play an instrument as a child? Several studies show that learning to play improves how your brain works.

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Photo: woodleywonderworks (flickr)

Children should learn to play musical instruments to improve their brain function.

Anyone who took piano or violin lessons as a kid knows that learning an instrument can be difficult. All those scales and complicated fingering positions can seem like drudgery.

But there are good reasons for sticking with music lessons. According to several studies, learning to play an instrument improves how the brain works.

Motor And Listening Skills

For example, one study out of McMaster University in Canada found that even a year or two of musical training is associated with better memory and attention.

Learning to play involves motor and listening skills–especially if you’re learning to play music with other people.  And those skills in turn involve attention, memory and the ability to control your actions.

Verbal And Reasoning Skills

Other studies have backed this up. A Harvard study found a relationship between early‑childhood music lessons and enhanced verbal skills and reasoning.

The study also found that learning an instrument can help dyslexic children overcome their reading difficulties.

Singing And Cognitive Skills

Now, it’s difficult to measure accurately if playing music actually makes kids smarter. After all, thousands of factors determine intelligence. But a study at the University of Toronto found that kids who take music or singing lessons tend to score better on cognitive tests. Even just listening to music helped kids perform better, at least in the short run.

There are probably plenty of dim‑witted musicians in the world. But there’s at least some evidence that making music tends to make us smarter.

Read More: Music Improves Brain Function (LiveScience)

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